Six emerging travel industry marketing trends

From p2p business to ‘experimentalism’, the 2014 Abta Travel Convention surfaced a number of trends that have wide implications for all marketers.

Airbnb logo
P2P business was one of the key marketing trends emerging from the annual Abta travel convention this year.

Peer to peer businesses

The growth of peer to peer businesses such as Airbnb and dining club Eatwithme will have a huge disruptive impact on brands unless they can find a way of partnering or working with these initiatives. The growth of social media and the need to feel some part of community is driving this trend, according to JWT’s planning foresight director Marie Stafford. Businesses recognising the trend and being inspired by P2P include easyGroup, which has launched easyCar Club, while W Hotels is working with desksnearme.

Ageing demographic

The percentage of the population regarded as elderly is increasing and this will have a big impact on services, products, marketing plans and staff, as older people want to deal with staff of the same age. The upside is that the older generation is likely to have more disposable income and be healthier than their predecessors but as professor of gerontology Sarah Harper pointed out, several countries are looking at making a retirement age of 70 before the state pension is available and this wipes out a whole group of 60 plus retired travellers.

Collaboration

Earn reward points when you shop at Heathrow airport
Some consumers are now considering an airport and its facilities ahead of choosing an airline, according to the Institute of Customer Service’s Jo Caulson.

Brands need to collaborate to deliver an excellent end to end customer experience and the associated trust. Chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service Jo Causon pointed out that when flying she now considers the airport and its facilities ahead of choosing an airline. The airport experience pre and post flight is formed by contact with many brands and the customer expects a seamless and positive relationship with all of them.

Make doing business with your brand easy

Causon explained Institute of Customer Service research showed customer satisfaction scores have fallen in the past 18 months as the consumer becomes more knowledgeable and organisations take their eye off the ball. She urged brands to make it easy for customers to interact with them as consumers lead busy lives and cited John Lewis and Amazon as the top ranked companies for customer satisfaction.

Experientialism

People are now valuing personal experiences over accruing more material objects, according to author of the book Stuffocation James Wallman. He believes that that people are now “sick of stuff” and that the new badges of status are experiences. He says that the trend is not necessarily anti-capitalist or anti-consumerist, just that people now have too much stuff and some are adjusting their attitudes. The brands that can benefit are those “that deliver authentic experiences that give people status through stories”.

Personalisation

Customers value being treated as individuals and technology allows products, services and messages to be customised and crafted for individuals. Travel businesses deal in selling experiences and personalisation is increasingly important in this sector but providing the element of surprise and discovery is still vital and over-personalisation can lead to predictability for the customer. Tamara Hebert-Percy, co-founder of online hotel booking company Mr & Smith, said brands should be prepared to make mistakes with their first forays into personalised emails.

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