Seems like just yesterday we were taking our desktop monitors home and trying out bread baking strategies we found on an app called TikTok. We swore we were just going to download it for an hour just to see what the hype was about, but alas it’s now taken over our lives and we can’t stop referencing specific audio bytes in everyday conversation. Can you believe it’s been over two years?
We’ve finally reached the point where vacations are back on the table, and America is taking full advantage. It’s a critical time for businesses in the travel and tourism industry to embrace agility and adapt to evolving customer needs and expectations.
Here are six disruptive tourism marketing trends that have already prompted response from the most nimble travel-based businesses.
1. Consumers splurging on travel
Pandemic-related shutdowns and canceled events caused people to miss out on two years of their lives. Younger travelers see 2020 and 2021 as prime years stolen away while older travelers worry they missed a key window for squeezing in last-minute trips before it becomes physically difficult to move about.
Additionally, the pandemic disproportionately affected household finances. Some families struggled to pay rent while others had two years to stash away savings that would usually be spent on restaurants, entertainment, gas and travel.
Combine this extra savings with the pent-up energy and frustration of losing out on two years of vacations, and it’s no wonder why Expedia is calling 2022
the year of the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Trips). Travelers are ready to book the dream vacations they cooked up while stuck at home, and they’re willing to spend the extra cash to make it happen.
According to HomeToGo’s November 2021 travel trends report
, the biggest vacation destinations people are searching for include the Maldives, Bora Bora, the Bahamas, the Southern France coast and Tuscany, Italy. Luxury travel is absolutely the move right now.
How to Respond:
Luxury destinations, it’s your time to shine. But even the more localized vacation spots can join in the fun by offering premium pricing on small touches to enhance the trip. A bottle of wine and flowers waiting in the hotel room, upscale dining packages and organized partnerships with nearby activities can go a long way.
2. Long-term travel
Around 16% of companies worldwide are fully remote
. Post-pandemic (AKA The American WFH Experiment) 62% of Americans say they’re able to work remotely at least part time. Travel and lodging companies are noticing this “work-from-anywhere” mentality and taking full advantage.
For example, Airbnb reported
that in Q3 of 2021, one out of every five bookings was for 28 days or longer, and nearly half of all bookings were for a week or longer. In response, the company launched a nationwide search for 12 people who would be willing to help product test by living exclusively in Airbnbs for a year. They received over 300,000 interested applicants.
If you can work from anywhere, why work from the same old spot? With long-term remote work finally a reality for many Americans, the demand for long-term, affordable accommodations is rapidly increasing.
How to Respond:
Offer affordable long-term accommodations comparable to the cost of a month’s rent or less in your area. If you can’t swing affordable long-term housing, partner with local businesses or Airbnb owners who can.
3. Mobile booking takes center stage
Have you ever booked a hotel or flight on your iPhone? If so, you’re a part of 48% of Americans who report they’re fully on board with researching and making trip reservations using only their smartphone, according to a Google report.
Some travel and tourism businesses offer their own apps to make purchase even easier from a smartphone. One study found that
the average U.S. vacationer uses 7-8 apps during the process of booking and taking their trip. Most use maps, weather and airline apps. About half of the travelers surveyed also valued the ability to chat with a customer service representative directly within branded apps.
Basically, we’re so dedicated to booking travel, we’ve even started booking it while we’re already on the go traveling.
How to Respond:
Make sure the mobile version of your site is on par with your desktop version, if not better. Mobile test every page, especially key pages to purchase. Offer an app if it makes sense for your business, but triple check you’ve worked through all the bugs and created a great user experience.
4. TikTok for trip planning and ideas
Tourist destinations can post their panoramic views, dancing sea lions and coolest attractions to entice tourists to plan a visit. Potential visitors can add the clip to their liked videos or share it with potential travel buddies with a click of a button. It’s a great platform for attracting new audiences.
Oh, and if you think Tik Tok is just for Gen Z kids who haven’t yet entered the workforce to pay for travel, think again. The fastest growing segment of app users are actually 25-39 years old with vacation time to burn.
How to Respond:
If you haven’t already, it’s time to set up your business’s TikTok account! Post your coolest views, best activities and FOMO-inducing content that make users think “Wow, I wish I were there.” Oh, and don’t forget to use trending sounds.
If you need a little help getting TikTok off the ground, check out our 2022 Social Media Playbook for inspiration!
5. No-contact service
People got pretty used to no-contact service during the pandemic. We’ve evolved beyond self checkouts at grocery stores and into mobile order pickup, grocery delivery and even no-contact car repair. It’s become the norm to pick your burrito delivery up off the concrete stoop of your porch rather than interact with the delivery driver.
While it started out as a health and safety precaution, no-contact has become a preference for many tourists. In the travel and tourism industry, visitors are enjoying features like mobile hotel and restaurant check-ins. But one of the most underrated and underutilized no-contact service options is self-guided audio tours.
Whether you operate a museum or run a tourism bureau for a mid-sized city, free or low-cost audio tours can be a great way to encourage tourists to interact with your destination on a deeper level without tipping a tour guide. It’s a great option to offer for travelers who have started to prefer no-contact service (whether they realize it or not).
How to Respond: This one is simple. If your location is worth touring and you don’t already offer a self-guided option, now is the time. Record some audio and offer it (for free or for a price) on your website or provide audio listening devices to visitors.
6. Virtual reality travel
In some ways, the metaverse is already here in the form of virtual reality experiences. These experiences cater to those who cannot travel while offering a taste of what you have to offer for guests interested in visiting in person.
The best virtual reality experiences are short and sweet with a storytelling component. They should always be recorded in high quality. All the better to lure in guests who want to see the real thing.
How to Respond: If you don’t have the budget to produce a full virtual experience, go smaller with a 360° hotel room tour. You can also capitalize on the live streaming trend by offering a 360° live feed video of your destination. The Monterey Bay Aquarium live streams their jellyfish 24/7 now - could you imagine being virtually surrounded by colorful sea blobs?
Send in the tourists
Trust us, the instability and evolving consumer behavior in the tourism industry means now is the best time to play around with your marketing strategy and experiment with new offerings. It’s time to make sure your destination ends up on everyone’s 2022 bucket list.
Travelers are ready to get back out there and explore the world. Are you ready to meet their expectations?
Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve been helping long-term travel and tourism clients navigate the effects of the pandemic for over two years now. See some of our best work in destination and hospitality marketing here.