2019 has been a turbulent year in travel, with highs, lows, opportunities, and complexities. But we’re not here to unpack everything that happened with Brexit, Thomas Cook, and other major events that have caused fluctuations throughout the market. We’re looking ahead.
This year, Britons have holidayed more, after a downturn in 2018. An average of 3.9 holidays per person were taken, including 1.9 abroad, both numbers up from last year.1 But as we are well aware, no brand can rest on their laurels, and in 2020 travel brands will need to continue to prove that they are worthy of as many of those 3.9 holidays as possible.
We spoke to a mix of travel clients, brands, and thought leaders on some things they thought would help travel brands stand out from the pack in 2020.
Views from the top
Our latest Success meetup at The Shard was a special edition for our travel clients, who were keen to learn and discuss Infinity use cases, but also took some time out to speak to us about what they think will help differentiate travel brands in 2020.
Keen on green
As massive protests about environmental issues gain traction all over the globe, many people will be considering their travel choices. Brands not making clear, ongoing strides in this area risk being disrupted or discarded later.
“The uncomfortable truth is that the travel industry is largely not ‘good’ for the environment, but in 2020 and beyond brands will have to own that and show how they are working towards making holidays more sustainable. Whether it’s demonstrating the green credentials of accommodation, banning single-use plastic, offering options to carbon offset, giving travellers the chance to travel by rail instead of by plane, or making sure that a holiday includes an experience which gives back to the environment or local community, travel brands must show that they care.”
The traditional image of the tourist stepping off a giant bus holding a huge camera, with the tag still on their sunglasses is changing. A growing number of people want to see the real world up close, through the eyes of a local, and a growing number of travel agents are stepping up to meet those demands for authenticity and sustainability.
“Repeated requests from our valued agent partners made us initially look at developing a groups programme to Latin America. We spent over 18 months researching, designing and testing every detail to ensure we are offering a strong proposition to agents and their clients. From days where clients can choose to tailor their days individuallyl to the accompaniment of an experienced tour leader throughout the holiday, we are confident our group holidays will exceed expectations and show off Latin America to a whole new market of Latin Routes clients.”
Minds are ready to be opened, do you have the key?
Some people enjoy having the exact same cocktail at the exact same spot on the exact same beach every year, which is fine, but many see travel as a chance to see new places. In fact, 75% of Pinterest users use the platform to get ideas about fresh destinations to try out.2 But with so much choice out there, how can you get people to try out some places that are off the beaten path, new to them, or simply haven’t been renowned for their holiday potential in the past?
AirBnb’s ‘First Night On Us’ campaign encouraged travellers to ‘rediscover your country’ and try out new destinations across the UK by giving away a limited number of £150 vouchers to spend on less-travelled coastal or countryside spots that they felt had something to offer, such as Appleby, Callander, and Pontefract.
Of course, the UK isn’t the only destination where educating your audience on new locations could reap rewards. New routes all over the world and investments in tourism have opened many markets to curious adventurers, but competition is stiff. Taking the time to understand what’s holding people back, what they want, and what will connect with them is vital, then think about your messaging based on this insight.
“It is key to address preconceptions about a destination to make promotions resonate. In September 2019, Balkan Holidays posted six blog articles, called 'Skiing Made Easy', in an attempt to address all the reasons would-be skiers and boarders give to avoid a first-time trip. Content included getting fit; the right kit; what happens on day 1; how to pack and so much more. Organic web traffic rose 7% during the campaign and bookings for beginners rose 3% year on year (those booking ‘learn to ski’ packs).”
Getting people to trust you for their travel once is an honour, getting them to do it again and again is vital. A market that is more open to new places needs to be rethought if you’d like to get them back to the same accommodation, chain, or location. Likewise, tour operators will need to look at ways to build long term trust so that travellers who tried them out once will become regulars.
“Flash Pack brings solo travellers in their 30s and 40s together on epic adventures around the world, combining the experience of backpacking with the comfort and luxury of boutique and unique accommodation. As we look towards 2020, these unique experiences will drive how our audience travels, but it’s likely to be the real-world connections they make with other likeminded adventurers that keeps them coming back.”
Travel brands do not exist in a silo from the rest of society. Consumer expectations on user experience and what a path to purchase looks like have been permanently changed by the likes of Amazon, Uber, Apple, and other leading brands they interact with regularly. Anything that is deemed unnecessary or unhelpful will be a big negative.
“Digital investment will continue to be crucial in 2020 for travel companies who need to balance technical innovation with ease of use for their customers. The recent growing trend in experiential travel is a trend that we predict will continue throughout 2020. Customers are looking to travel brands to provide inspirational ideas and show them a seamless way of taking the holiday dream and making it a reality through simple to use booking tools or knowledgeable agents.”
The Travel Corporation have focused on arranging truly unique activities for their customers, with their Trafalgar brand offering a meal and guided tour of Muhammad Ali’s childhood home with his younger brother being one example.
“Travellers are increasingly looking for ‘money can’t buy’ experiences on holiday. Trafalgar’s Be My Guest experiences are a fantastic example of how we’re innovating our holidays to ensure our guests experience a place beyond the landmarks and many of our brands offer encounters that you simply couldn’t access on your own.”
It is not just the destination, it is the (customer) journey
Travel brands waste untold amounts of money by spending their marketing budget on guesswork. This affects the quality and value you’re able to offer guests. A lack of understanding about the journey that leads to a call or enquiry means you can’t improve it going forward, or replicate successes in the future. Ensuring there are no gaps in your vision of the customer journey will help both you and your customers in the long run.
Look at our infographic here to see how Blue Bay Travel filled this gap and the astounding bottom-line difference they achieved as a result, which helps them to offer a high quality of service at a reasonable price.
If knowing more about these journeys is important to you, start a conversation with Infinity to have a no-commitment chat about how call tracking can help travel brands such as yourself. Call us, drop us a message here, or use the chat box on the right.