2018 saw the further diversification of social media, the buzz around voice search, and the evolvement of personalisation. With 2019 well under way, there are sure to be more developments across the travel industry. More than 60% of UK ad spend is digital, and it's predicted to increase by 9.9% in 2019, which will present both opportunities and challenges as marketers decide where to focus their budgets. With new technology constantly being introduced, keeping up with the latest trends is vital to getting ahead.
The world of travel is one that lets people dream and aspire. Storytelling is vital to allow audiences to imagine themselves in a new and exciting destination. People are always looking for the next great deal; the key is to show them why they should choose you.
If you're a travel brand ready to test new digital marketing strategies, take a look at our predictions for the top digital-marketing trends for 2019.
The power of social platforms should never be underestimated. The number of social media users worldwide by the end of 2018 was 3.196 billion – a figure currently rising by more than 10% each year.
Previously, we saw brands looking to celebrities, athletes and other famous faces in order to guide audiences to their next purchase. Although this strategy is still beneficial, for those brands without a big budget, the lower-cost answer is here: the social-media influencer.
Audiences now look to their favourite travel bloggers, Instagram accounts and vloggers for guidance. A well-planned collaboration (in exchange for some form of renumeration) with a top influencer can lead to that all-important boost in sales and web traffic. Think about your audience when choosing a collaboration – who would be relevant to them? In a world where likes and followers can be bought easily, it is vital to check that an influencer's following is authentic. Remember that consumers are savvy to the world of influencers, so you must curate a campaign that not only resonates with them but also doesn't come across as traditional advertising.
The modern-day take on word of mouth, gone are the days where you would only get a recommendation from a friend or relative. Instead, audiences simply search their destination and delve into a world of opinions and experiences.
With 94% of people saying an online review has convinced them to avoid a business, it is now more important than ever to monitor this. Brands aim to have 100% satisfaction but there are always a few who aren't happy with the product or service. A top tip is to remain engaged and helpful. When you have negative reviews on your public profile, always reply to the sender, offering to resolve the situation. By sending a tailored and individual response, it shows that you care about the feedback and are making the necessary improvements. A travel brand who benefits from this strategy is Skyscanner. A top travel brand for online customer service, its response to customers increases brand awareness and also gains coverage.
'Virtual reality will continue to drive greater levels of spending in the next 12-18 months, as both consumer and commercial use cases gain traction,' explained Tom Mainelli, Program Vice President for Devices and AR/VR at the International Data Corporation.
The end of 2018 saw the rise of video and virtual reality. This is predicted to become a more prominent feature used by travel brands. Audiences are no longer looking for a few images and clever words; they want to be catapulted into their holiday dreams. Travel brands should now look towards 360˚ videos and virtual tours to stay ahead of the market.
Ahead of both Booking.com and Expedia on the 50 best travel websites, Google is a go-to destination for travel deals. With updates to the search engine involving the addition of flight costs, times, package deals and much more, audiences are now using simple searches to determine their next purchase. This is a threat to travel brands as Google is guiding users through its own aggregator, rather than recommending sites.
Currently, users have access to Flight Search, Maps and the Google Trip App. With more changes bound to come through in 2019, adhering to Google algorithms is now more important than ever to improve search rankings and increase web traffic. Some of the most valuable activities you can do to improve your rankings include keeping an up-to-date website, uploading relevant travel content and obtaining backlinks from trusted sources. In addition, you should invest in social media to help increase brand engagement and drive traffic to your website.
In 2018, TripAdvisor announced it was going social. It will release its new design of Travel Feed in 2019, allowing users to create their own profile and post content. With the ability to follow their favourite bloggers and influencers, users will able to get all of the travel guidance they need in one place.
The new travel social-media platform, brands will also be able to promote new products and services directly to audiences. Currently in beta testing, TripAdvisor brings a game changer to travel social media. 500 brands have chosen to partner the new platform in order to start building on their followers.
With so many trends introduced, the travel industry is set to become even more competitive. The key to successful results is through maintaining a clear and concise digital marketing strategy. With this, brands can benefit from an increase in brand awareness, web traffic and sales. Making plans around these digital marketing trends can be the difference between staying ahead and falling behind.