Selling holidays and life-changing experiences. To the man on the street, it’s a job that sounds easy. How hard can it be, right? Everyone loves going on holiday!

Regardless of that fact, every industry has its trends, innovations and changes, and if you’re going to position your tourism brand for best results, you need to keep up with the pack. Times change almost constantly in the digital revolution, as does what’s ‘cool’ and what’s  not. Keeping an eye on these shifting trends will help you help your brand position itself to your best advantage, each and every time. Here’s what the Zebra 360 Online Marketing team recommend for those marketing in the tourism industry.

1.  ‘Travel’ isn’t just families anymore

Cookie-cutter travel experiences simply don’t exist. As an operator in the industry, you know that. The needs of the family of 4 heading to a curated resort are quite different from the needs of the solo traveller aiming for the bush. Yet for the travel industry, set ‘types’ of travellers have definitely been the norm for decades- usually couples or families. As we expand into a more diverse decade, we’re seeing a rise in certain other types of travellers- and it does pay to pay attention to their needs, too.

  • Solo travel: Enjoying a trip by yourself is no longer seen as a can’t-do. This growing demographic isn’t a homogenous whole- some are singles cruising for fun, while others serious travellers who crave authentic experience. No matter what they want from the trip, however, they’re a growing demographic it pays to pay attention to.
  • Business and Leisure: Millenials are frugal, and that doesn’t look to be changing for the generations chasing them, either. This leaves the tourism sector facing an increasing base of customers who may come to the location for business, but want to squeeze in a little leisure on the side. Or they may be ‘digital nomads’ roaming the globe while working from a laptop. How are you catering for them today

While each of these individual categories matter, there’s an overarching theme to pay attention to here… and that’s personalisation. Today’s consumers are diverse, and want experiences that are tailored to what interests them. The more you can tailor your advertising to the needs and wants of the specific eye beholding it, the better your tourism marketing results will be.

2.  Ethical travel trends aren’t going away

People care about the planet more than ever before. It’s not enough just to soak in a fun experience and leave a trail of damage in their wake. The modern traveller wants to know they can have their fun in a safe, ethical way that does as little harm as possible. From the conservation of wildlife to the upliftment of local communities, from carbon credits to electric vehicles, expect to see this sector grow and grow.

This same care and concern spills over into what the modern traveller eats too. ‘Ethical’ and ‘organic’ foods have both risen to customer prominence. A holiday is no longer an excuse to indulge in unhealthy treats, but an opportunity to experience native cuisines and maintain health and fitness. Travellers with special diets- be it an ethical or dietary choice, medical needs or religious abstinence- are featuring in the travel market space, and aren’t content to receive second-class service or be treated as an oddity anymore.

3.  Automation and the digital revolution

We’ve already seen the demise of the vacation planned entirely by a walk-in travel agent, and the trend to automating procedures isn’t going anywhere but up. Online booking, online check-in, chatbots and interactive AI are only the crest of this wave. Increasingly, this surfing is being done from a mobile device and specialist apps, not a PC or a web browser. This all means staying on top of digital trends, SEO and search terms is key for tourism marketing.

Talking about AI, as Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things both reach widespread usage we’re seeing a rise of ‘smart’ technology. From fine-tuning a service to fit a guest’s needs to amping up security, AI is a trend to watch. The IoT allows guests to access services through ‘smartbots’ and in-room hubs. Keep an eye, too, on the increasing use of biometric data for safety and security purposes. Facial recognition and smart IDs are revolutionising how guests change countries and board air travel, and voice recognition is playing a rising role in security.

On the fun side, there’s Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to play with. VR is no longer the plaything of a few tech-heads, and is seeing increasing market saturation. Augmented Reality overlays virtual elements on the real world (think Pokemon Go). This has many applications for the tourism industry, from virtual tours to allow safe ‘interaction’ with museum artefacts and a glimpse into history with your very own eyes.

4.  Experiential Marketing and the Social Media Share

Don’t tell, show. At its heart, this tourism marketing trend is as simple as it gets, but deploying it effectively takes guts and creativity. The modern customer is shopping for experiences and feelings, and marketing that can build this desire into its core has an effective voice. A related part of this trend is the rise of aspirational Instagram as a marketing device. That doesn’t mean it’s time to rush out and snag yourself broadly unfocused influencers just based on their account subscription numbers, however!

The smart modern tourism marketer will focus on ‘micro-influencers’, instead… accounts with small numbers yet meaningful influence and expert advice to offer their followers. Making smart use of ‘guest content’- the social media shares of their experience that your guests were going to do anyway- through asking for contributions, hashtag management, and much more, can also be a great way forward.

Whatever you choose to use in your social media marketing for your tourism niche, be sure video is a part of the strategy. Video content is seeing exponential growth in popularity- and given the niche you’re in, could it be simpler to create compelling video moments that capture the imagination?

The digital marketing world is a dynamic place, with changing trends to watch. That goes double for the tourism industry, where a global revolution in how people travel has seen great changes across the industry. Keen to position your travel business through smart, focused marketing? The Zebra 360 Online Marketing team is always here to help.