Destination marketers seeking to capitalize on the surge of global travel take note: travelers are still looking for the best deal, but also want a personalized customer experience, writes Sally Ann Lopez, Senior Program Manager, Marketing & Operations, CMO Council. 

Travel and tourism generated $1.6 trillion in bookings in 2017 and now accounts for over 10%  of global GDP. Technology and service innovations are making it easier and cheaper to discover, reach and enjoy travel destinations. Destination marketers seeking to capitalize on the surge of global travel take note: travelers are still looking for the best deal, but also want a personalized experience.

When planning their next journey, it’s still all about “me” as travelers are less likely to be influenced by the social crowd and more moved by their own special interests, safety and security, according to new research, entitled, “What’s Changing the Way You Travel Today,” conducted by the CMO Council in Q3 of 2018.

Beliefs, values and interests are influencing where, how and why people travel. While deals, specials and promotions are driving desire and action, visually enriched and personalized digital content channels are making travel experiences more alluring and exciting. Engaging with travelers by offering them specialized deals and promotions to the areas that best align with their interests will get them to book.

Given the significance of personalized engagement, this report uncovers travel ‘personas’, including the smart, well-informed planner (31 %), relaxed nomad – easygoing and flexible (25 %), and deal seeker on a budget (22 %). These personas each have their own influencers, deterrents, and innovations they are most likely to leverage when booking. Speaking the language of the traveler will aid destination marketers on their quest to bring travelers to their unique destination.

Enabled by technology innovations, today’s diverse travelers are smarter, more informed and better prepared than ever before. Nearly half of the 2,000 leisure travelers polled say Internet and device connectivity makes their travel experience better overall, and 42 % believe technology innovations and advancements across all modes of travel have improved the experience. An additional 38 % say these tech advancements have helped them find deals, discounts and destinations more easily.

More than 51 percent of travelers surveyed say great deals and discounts are what prompts them to make a travel booking. Easier, do-it-yourself travel planning is also a major factor for 32 percent of travelers. Other influences are referrals from family and friends (29 %), exciting images or video (21 %), and interesting stories or articles (21 %).

Factors most influencing travel choices tended to be more about passions, self-interests and destination appeal, rather than travel issues or concerns:

  • Special interests, hobbies, and diversions (43 %)
  • Security, stability, and friendliness of destination (36 %)
  • Adventure, recreation or sports pursuits (30 %)
  • Culture and history of the local people (29 %)
  • Destination geography and diversity (29 %)

     

Surprisingly, only 15% relied on their social media networks to help shape their travel choices, and just eight percent pointed to political ethics, human rights practices or prejudices in travel locales as a consideration when choosing travel destinations.

Yes, travelers love deals. But when thinking about how to truly influence them, destination marketers must think about the individual persona. What makes each individual traveler tick? Marketers must leverage the right technologies through the right channels to reach them, but also keep those travel personas top of mind. Consider what will get them to book when you hit them with content, images, and promotions.



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