Navigating a post-COVID-19 landscape and implementing a digital strategy for the modern traveller is a challenging task. The pandemic significantly reshaped the travel landscape, as well as the expectations of travellers, propelling the industry towards a digital-centric approach. As many industries grapple with new norms and changed customer behaviours, travel companies will certainly be required to reimagine their digital strategies in order to stay competitive and relevant.
Embracing Digital Transformation
In the wake of travel restrictions and safety concerns, consumers increasingly turned to digital platforms for information, planning, and booking their travels. This trend has not disappeared since the pandemic slowed down. Modern travellers expect a complete digital experience from their first click to their final destination. They are looking for intuitive platforms that allow them to research, plan, and book their trips seamlessly. They also respond well to travel companies that offer immersive virtual tours, online reviews, and other options that give them confidence in their travel choices.
Leveraging Data and Analytics
Data-driven decision-making has never been more crucial. The availability of real-time data and advanced analytics allows travel companies to understand changing consumer behaviours and trends. This information should be used to guide the development of personalised marketing strategies and tailor-made experiences, further enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. While there is a lot of talk about the use of data and analytics, consumers do appreciate a company that more intuitively understands their preferences, and tailors their services accordingly.
Investing in Mobile Technology
The meteoric rise of smartphones has made mobile technology a crucial part of any digital strategy for the travel industry. Travel companies should prioritise the implementation and optimisation of their mobile presence, focusing on features like mobile check-ins, e-tickets, real-time notifications, and contactless payments. Put simply, modern travellers are looking for a hassle-free experience. An app that provides an all-in-one solution – from destination research and booking to in-trip navigation and post-trip feedback – can greatly enhance the experience of your users and encourage repeat visits.
Engaging Through Social Media
Social media platforms provide an excellent opportunity for businesses to connect with modern travellers. Regular updates, engaging content, quick response to queries, and monitoring customer feedback can significantly improve brand visibility and customer engagement. Additionally, leveraging user-generated content, such as travel experiences and reviews, can provide valuable social proof.
Adopting an Agile Business Model
In the constantly evolving and dynamic post-pandemic era, the need for agility in the travel industry has become more apparent than ever. Travel companies must be able to respond swiftly to changes in customer preferences, market trends, and any other elements that could affect their success. Adopting digital tools and technologies that support flexible operations and real-time decision-making is crucial.
In this process, forming a relationship with a reliable and trusted technology partner can be a game-changer. Realm offers an extensive pool of expertise and resources and can help you to identify the most suitable technological solutions to address your unique needs.
Identifying travel markets
Gone are the days of categorising or understanding travellers based on shared interests, social status, or cultural background. These methods are no longer effective, as modern travellers have diverse and individualistic preferences that may not align with their socio-cultural groups. In order to remain competitive, businesses must adapt their travel marketing strategies to account for these changing trends and the more personal tastes of travellers.
When approaching the modern traveller, it can be useful to concentrate on understanding the characteristics of different generations, particularly in the context of business and B2B travel. This knowledge will enable you to effectively tailor your online services to meet the specific needs of the corporate traveller in the dynamic digital environment.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are still playing a pivotal role in shaping the contemporary leisure economy. They command a significant portion of disposable income and, with travel plans most likely already in place in the coming year, they represent promising opportunities for travel businesses.
Motivated primarily by the desire for meaningful experiences, Baby Boomers show an insatiable appetite for learning when they travel. Whether it’s business travel or leisure, they seek to broaden their horizons and indulge in new adventures – and they are financially equipped to do so. Interestingly, a substantial number of Baby Boomers report feeling younger than their chronological age, which is reflected in their adventurous spirit.
Baby Boomers’ top motivation for travel revolves around quality time with family and friends, putting them at the forefront of the multigenerational travel trend. This trend sees entire families – including extended relatives – vacationing together at various destinations or enjoying group cruises. These larger groups can be a good opportunity for travel agencies, considering everyone is generally going to the same places and partaking in the same activities. By delivering experiences that fulfil their desire for learning, adventure, and quality family time, businesses can tap into this lucrative demographic.
Often considered the “middle child”, Generation X finds itself sandwiched between the larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Born between 1965 and 1980, this group is renowned for their passion for travel, although they are also noted for their financial consciousness. Their priorities are often centred around saving for life’s major events, such as their children’s college education or their own retirement. This fiscal prudence is mirrored in their approach to travel; holidays and business trips are typically planned around family schedules and the pursuit of value, demonstrating the importance they place on financial responsibility and familial commitments.
As travellers, Gen X seeks a balance of exploration and work, being strongly drawn to cultural and artistic attractions. Their tendency to prioritise family-inclusive vacations further highlights the importance of family in their lives, with school holiday periods often dictating their travel schedules. Their heightened sensitivity to price fluctuations, more so than other generational segments, is indicative of their fiscally conservative stance on travel budgets. It’s clear that destinations rich in cultural and artistic offerings are especially appealing to this generation, tying into their deep-rooted interest in arts and culture.
For businesses seeking to engage Generation X effectively, it is essential to consider these unique tendencies and preferences. A successful digital strategy might entail offering competitively priced travel options that align with family schedules and emphasising local cultural and artistic attractions. Catering to these needs could prove key in resonating with this financially conscious, culturally driven demographic, thus attracting and retaining this significant market segment.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, represent our most substantial generational segment. They are largely well-educated with the financial means to explore the world through travel. They are the first to have been raised in the age of digital and mobile technology, making online platforms a particularly effective method of engagement. This generation places high value on recreational pursuits and life experiences, which is clearly evident in their substantial role in the leisure travel booking market.
As corporate travellers, many Millennials, who now outnumber Generation X in the workplace, often endeavour to blend enjoyment with their business travel commitments (AKA “blesiure”). Catering to this desire not only meets their needs but can also spark a positive chain reaction for travel specialists since this generation typically engages with peer reviews and relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations when planning their travels.
An excellent digital strategy that resonates with them can extend your reach and influence in this critical market segment. Catering to their inclination for combining work with leisure can spark a positive ripple effect, as this generation frequently engages with peer reviews and relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations when planning travels.
Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, are the latest entrants to the travel industry. Despite their youth, they are making a significant impact on travel and tourism, exhibiting distinct travel tendencies and preferences that businesses need to recognise. They have grown up in an interconnected digital world, which has nurtured them into independent and confident travellers. Leveraging digital tools and social media platforms, they research and plan their trips, and rely heavily on user-generated content and peer reviews when making travel decisions.
This generation has a unique blend of characteristics inherited from their predecessors. Like the Millennials, they value experiences over material possessions and save for travel, and appreciate the fusion of work and leisure, potentially making them the true pioneers of “bleisure” travel. Furthermore, akin to Baby Boomers, they place a high value on quality time spent with family and friends.. Social responsibility plays a central role for Gen Z, with preferences for brands that adopt sustainable practices and support social causes, and travel choices that lean towards eco-friendly and socially responsible destinations, experiences, and services.
Even at this early stage in their careers, Gen Z is making their mark as corporate travellers. They seek work environments that encourage learning and personal growth, a mindset that carries over to their travel preferences, with a tendency towards destinations that offer enrichment and experiential learning. Businesses aiming to capture the loyalty of this influential generation should focus on authenticity, social consciousness, and leveraging user-generated content in their digital strategies. A successful approach would involve harnessing these elements into an engaging, mobile-first experience.
MICE, which represents a specialised segment within the tourism sector, is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. This specific form of group tourism aims to provide the necessary facilities and services for hosting various types of corporate events, ranging from business meetings and conferences to seminars and large expos.
Destinations renowned for their MICE capabilities often compete for the chance to host substantial gatherings of corporate travellers, with the economic benefits of these events being manifold. They boost local revenue through increased bookings for accommodations, dining, and other services which, in turn, enables these destinations to offer enticing subsidies and packages to attract such events.
In crafting a digital strategy for the modern traveller, the MICE sector provides an appealing opportunity. By effectively marketing a location’s MICE capabilities online, destinations can attract corporate travellers, stimulate local economies, and further strengthen their position in the competitive MICE market. This strategy should highlight the location’s facilities, services, and unique selling points that make it an ideal choice for corporate events. By doing so, destinations can effectively target this niche market and harness the economic potential it presents.
Meetings are defined as a small gathering of individuals, either occasionally or on a recurring basis, in a designated place and for a specific purpose or activity. They can last anything from a few minutes to a few hours.
Incentive travel, arranged by companies and corporations, serves as a unique reward mechanism. Typically, these trips don’t involve business or educational components but instead, act as leisure vacations designed to motivate and acknowledge outstanding performance. These travel rewards may extend to an employee’s family, or they might serve as collective rewards for a team or a group of colleagues.
Conferences include a larger group of people than meetings and offer a more structured exchange of information. They tend to last longer than a meeting, anything from a full day to several days in length, and are usually more formal, with keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and smaller meetings taking place at specific times.
Exhibitions (or expos) are events that present a dedicated platform for showcasing products or services within a specific industry or field on interest. These gatherings bring together industry leaders representing their respective organisations or companies, creating a vibrant hub of professionals with common interests and roles. Such events offer businesses the chance to acquire new customers and introduce new products or services to the market.
Digital nomads leverage technology to work remotely and live a roaming lifestyle. This growing demographic is composed primarily of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and employees that are not tied to a specific geographic location for work, allowing them to travel and live in different places around the world while maintaining their careers. The digital nomad lifestyle represents a shift in traditional work and lifestyle norms, offering opportunities for constant travel, cultural immersion, and a work-life balance that aligns with personal interests and aspirations.
Travel agencies can accommodate and sell to digital nomads by understanding and addressing their unique needs. Digital nomads often require accommodation with reliable WiFi and a quiet space to work, making properties with dedicated workspaces highly attractive. Additionally, they tend to stay in one location for longer periods compared to traditional tourists, meaning they may appreciate discounted rates for long-term stays. Access to local experiences, such as cultural events, outdoor activities, and networking opportunities, may also be of interest. In terms of travel arrangements, flexible booking options that allow for last-minute changes or cancellations without penalty are a must, given the unpredictable nature of nomadic living.
One important factor for digital nomads is the visa requirements in their destination of choice. Countries are increasingly recognising the potential economic benefits of attracting digital nomads and are creating special visas to facilitate their stay. Travel agencies can cater to digital nomads by staying abreast of these visa opportunities and providing up-to-date information and assistance in securing such visas. They can also offer services such as travel insurance that covers extended stays and partnerships with local businesses that offer coworking spaces. By focusing on the unique needs and preferences of digital nomads, travel agencies can tap into this growing market segment and create a loyal customer base.
At Realm, we understand the crucial role of strategic insight in unlocking your target market’s potential. Recognising unique needs and preferences is a key part of creating a strategy that effectively communicates your value proposition, and allows you to hold your own in a market full of competition.
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