The New World Of Travel

Originally published by Mediapost, June 6, 2016
By Verena Thompson

We’re seeing unprecedented changes in the world of travel and tourism, from the emergence of the “sharing economy” to the rise of the millennial traveler. But how can marketers capitalize on these trends to obtain a real edge in a fast-changing market?

To answer that question, we discussed the latest developments in the travel industry with vacationers, business travelers, industry experts, and working professionals throughout the United States and Latin America. Those conversations led to six key insights that, when thoughtfully applied, should help you create and maintain a lasting impression among travelers of all ages—and prepare for the trends yet to come.

1. We’re Living in the Age of the Road Warrior. Today’s travelers are open, spontaneous, and fearless—stretching their money, planning as they go, and getting the most out of every moment. For these road warriors, technology plays an essential role in solving problems and amplifying experiences. So how can you get them in your camp? By embracing flexibility and celebrating consumer choice. 

2. It’s Not a Vacation. It’s Personal Development Time.Vacations aren’t just vacations anymore. They’re opportunities for enrichment. Today’s travelers want fresh educational experiences to prepare them for life in an increasingly interconnected society. Here’s one way to approach it: think of social media as the new souvenir. What can travelers share on their social networks to help drive more business for your brand? 

3. Live Like a Local. “Tourist” is a four-letter word. Today’s travelers don’t want a fabricated experience pre-packaged for non-natives. They’re looking for a true sense of day-to-day life in a distant land. Your job, then, is to help them do less sightseeing and more connecting. Focus on forging one-on-one interactions between travelers and locals. 

4. Share and Share Alike. The peer-to-peer marketplace isn’t your enemy. In fact, services like Airbnb can be wellsprings of inspiration—and opportunities for innovation. The simple fact is that the “sharing economy” is here to stay, so don’t fight it. Instead, find ways to accommodate and capitalize on this new era of co-ownership and exchange. 

5. Experience Is King. The days of one-upmanship are gone. Today’s voyagers want to create unique travel experiences that can’t be duplicated. They discover and express their individuality at every point along their journey. When selling to these travelers, think of it this way: it’s not about products. It’s about purpose. What kind of experience does your brand offer? Can you feel it, tell a story about it, or capture it in a picture?

6. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize. From Nest to Netflix, we’re accustomed to hyper-personalized digital experiences at home, at work, and even on vacation. Today’s big data tools make it easier than ever for your brand to offer the kinds of tailor-made experiences that consumers have come to expect. It goes without saying, of course, that big data won’t do you any good if you’re not using it. So how can you make the most of the information you already have?