13 Marketing Trends For 2013

November 5, 2012

Crystal ballIt’s already that time of year when strategic planning and budgeting are in their final stages for 2013. But what are some of the major shifts that can be expected next year, and how should marketers align accordingly? While I don’t own a magic crystal ball, here’s my personal take on what I foresee as trends set to either continue or explode in coming months, in particular as it pertains to the tourism & hospitality industry.


It’s no coïncidence that Apple recently launched its iPad Mini while Samsung keeps coming up with variations of its popular Galaxy models in this device category. Google competes with its Nexus 7 while even Microsoft decided to join the party with its highly anticipated Surface. Tablets are chipping away market share from desktops and laptops, with an estimated 90 million consumers in the US to own one by 2014. Customer behaviors related to these devices have everything to appeal to travel marketers: more time spent on web pages, higher conversion rates… what’s there not to like?

2. CLOUD COMPUTINGCloud computing

Have you noticed how much work now gets done through cloud services? I use Hootsuite as my social media dashboard, get all my accounting done with a service like Freshbooks, or will share documents with friends and colleagues via Dropbox, Google Drive or project management services like BaseCamp. Companies are also seeking to diminish email clutter through internal collaboration services like Yammer, which tends to confirm there is growing confidence in using cloud computing while maintaining privacy and security concerns under control.


This one was in many Marketing trends for 2012 articles about a year ago, and guess what: it will most likely be a trend for 2014 too, since this is no easy cupcake! In essence, with the multiplication of customer touch points comes the increasing challenge of gaining a “single view of the client”. That is, a quality understanding of customer preferences, transactional background, social media and mobile interactions, etc. Making sense of the subsequent data becomes an analytical feat, akin to drinking water from the firehose. For more on this, read EyeforTravel’s post


Many people were disappointed when the new iPhone 5 was unveiled without any mobile payment feature, in particular since the rumor had it incorporating NFC technology. Nevertheless, Apple did include its Passbook application on its iOS 6 platform, while Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey is pushing forward with Square, a mobile credit card reader that is now being introduced across Canada, or while companies go their own way, like CIBC and Rogers recently launching their mobile payment initiative. It’s a bit of a Wild West out there, with retailers doing their own thing, Google Wallet, PayPal or even Groupon rumored to offer its own mobile payment solution. Who will come out as the leader? And what will it mean in terms of data capture, privacy matters and marketing opportunities? Interesting article on this topic, here


Smartphones represent more than 50% of new mobile devices being purchased, and the growth of connected devices will soar throughout 2013. In fact, Ericsson estimates there will be over 50 billion connected devices in circulation by 2020, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. In North America, 2013 shall mark the first time that online access is greater from mobile devices than desktop or laptop. In fact, according to a recent study by UK telecom provider O2, it seems we hardly ever use our smartphones for calling anymore!

Smartphones hardly used for calls

What is the impact of this paradigm shift? Among other things: the need to optimize newsletters for mobile reading, to optimize brand web sites through responsive design or mobile-first approaches, building mobile AdWords campaigns, etc. Not to mention the implications in location-based marketing and applications, from Foursquare to daily deals. At the end of the day, we now need to realize that Mobile is not a channel, it’s a way of life!


“Content marketing is the new advertising”

As brands embrace social media and its potential to engage in meaningful conversations with their loyal fan base and potential clients alike, the new mantra is now that “Brands need to act as Publishers”. In fact, content marketing is the new advertising. Coca Cola is perhaps one the best examples of a brand that actively pursues getting its message across through its owned and shared media, thus allowing it to reduce its investments in traditional paid media. Blogs, social media, newsletters, webinars, ebooks, photo-sharing, videos or case studies are just a few of the sharpest tools brands ought to invest in, moving forward in this rapidly evolving online ecosystem.


Ever since social media became an asset in the marketing tool kit, for many organizations that’s where accountability resided. Fortunately, brands are now realizing and structuring themselves in order to better reflect the fact that social media is not a marketing function: it’s a business function. Different stakeholders may then be involved in the shaping of multifunctional teams in order for organizations to thrive in this social environment: customer service, human resources, communications, sales, research, legal, IT, etc.


2012 was without a doubt the year that saw photo-sharing sites coming of age, in particular Pinterest and Instagram. Increasing users on both platforms mean first-mover opportunities, as many destinations, hotels and tourism-related organizations have demonstrated recently. Copycats are bound to arise, but 2013 will certainly provide us with new players on this field. Place your bet on at least one mobile-native solution to rise to fame next year, with a hefty price tag for acquisition…

YouTube Preview Image


This could be seen as a segue to point #7 above, but in fact it’s more about social media becoming strategic, rather than tactical. Many brands have set up accounts or pages on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Now what? Well, trial and error is fine up until a certain point. Moving forward, though, brands will need to take a few steps back and make sure resources are allocated according to priorities and corporate objectives. In other words, what’s the strategy? While this should have come in the first place, it’s never too late to reassess the situation and tweak tactics according to a revisited strategy.


Not sure if this one is truly a trend for 2013 or perhaps some wishful thinking on my part, but companies need to be clear about their online endeavors. Yes, a vast majority of clients are moving online or towards smartphones and tablets, but there is equally as many folks who prefer to use a call center or deal with people in real life. In the travel industry, this is particularly true as travel agencies and intermediaries continue to play an important role in the purchase decision process. Not to mention the “connected-ness” fatigue some people come to experience, whereby they can wish to have a week’s holiday without any digital connection to truly break-away from work and everyday life.


Yet, as the devil’s advocate to point #10, there ARE some folks who wish to stay connected throughout their travels. How can destinations adapt and provide services accordingly? Is the era of the full-blown website over, or will destinations adapt content deliver according to personas, types of interests, i.e. foodies, culture junkies, sporting events, etc. or perhaps even types of preferred device? Once at the destination, do you really need to access all the information once a destination web site? How can location-based applications come into play and add value?

Read: What it takes to become a digital destination


Crowd-sourcing through social media platforms is nothing new but remains very much under-utilized. Old habits die hard, and many organizations still conduct expensive focus groups on a regular basis when they could seek out equally relevant insights from Facebook fans or newsletter subscribers. Starbucks has been a trailblazer in this area with its MyStarbucksIdea.com site seeking feedback from its customers. Or even Melia Hotels, who developed “social suites” in its new hotels based on feedback from its Facebook fans. Read more on this, here


Last but not least: will 2013 represent the tipping point when online travel agencies start losing steam in their worldwide travel distribution dominance? In the hotel industry, revolt is brewing as many industry leaders are trying to steer away from the dependence to Expedia, Priceline, and their subsidiaries, i.e. Bookings.com, Hotels.com, etc. And with Expedia’s recent Traveler Preference Program said to cost an estimated $2.1 billion, will this be the final straw? Not to mention that in Europe, leading hotels have begun lobbying Google to stop OTAs from bidding on their properties in AdWords campaigns without prior consent.

There you have it. 13 marketing trends for 2013, in particular for the travel & hospitality industry but also for most brands active online. Please comment below if you disagree or would like to add to these predictions. Cheers!

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo

Senior marketing and communications expert & speaker with more than 20 years of expertise in the travel and hospitality industry. Consulting since early 2012, I provide strategic planning, social media & mobile development counseling to small and medium businesses alike. Reach me at frederic@gonzomarketing.biz

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Pierre de Touristic
Pierre de Touristic 5pts

Hello Fred, nice to see our Digital Destination Concept in your 2013 Trends... we agree with you :) , in France, DMO are realizing that they have to increase their suggested touristic informations, always more qualified, certified in real time (I just arrived in Québec City, it's 5:32 pm, Destination Website suggests me restaurants really opened tonight, I want to dinner at 9:00 pm, I've the right answer thanks to DMO qualified database) Next time in Montreal, we'll show you our first experiences from France, many clients trust in our concept :) Thank you Fred to promote our Digital Destination Concept. Merry Xmas :)

Alexandra Skey
Alexandra Skey 5pts

Hey Frederic, First time I've ready your blog - thanks for your predictions. Completely agree with content marketing, especially it's relevance with respect to context. You also posed an interesting question on digital destinations. We're seeing more and more of it, and I wonder how small businesses are going to use it? I work with them, and always keen to hear how people think they'll adopt and adapt to the trends as the space will changes. We also put together our thoughts on what 2013 will bring from them. What do you think? http://bit.ly/11TwxbT Looking forward to your feedback. Alexandra

Theressa 5pts

Although my work mainly requires me to be online, there is still a need for me offline also. Clients want to see you, get to know you and connect with you just to be sure you're a real person on the other side of that screen. So, No, I don't believe it's wishful thinking. It gives those who are still a bit cagey about the internet more faith in this digital world we live in. Nice post Frederic ;)

Phillipa Kiripatea
Phillipa Kiripatea 5pts

This is awesome Frederic. Agree with all the points. For me mainly, I think the way forward is Skype, Tablet and Cloud Computing. Love seeing that Strategic Social Media makes the list. I for one am in hope that brands will get more strategic rather than tactical.

Gazalla Gaya
Gazalla Gaya 5pts

Content Marketing is definitely the new marketing, so I'm glad to see that included. Skype. Google+ will become the de facto way of doing business. I also think an increase in virtual trade shows and conferences, don't you think? Great article, especially for this time of the year and excellent predictions!

Erik Emanuelli
Erik Emanuelli 5pts

Mobile will increase definetely, as well as new social networks. As the internet connection will be faster and cover more people in the world, sharing pictures, but above all videos will be easier, even with your mobile phone. Being active in social media and having an online presence, will be a MUST for any business in the future. Great article, Frederic. Love to "discover" the new trends. ;-)

Adi Gaskell
Adi Gaskell 5pts

Agree with most of these, in particular mobile and social business. Would crowdsourcing/peer-to-peer be in here too? Things like Kickstarter are making headway in crowdfunding. It'll be interesting to see how that develops in 2013. Likewise with Brazil and France looking to either ban or charge Google for listing news sites, that'll be another trend worth watching next year.

Amanda Blain
Amanda Blain 5pts

Indeed... Mobile... mobile... mobile... tablet... :) 2013 will be an interesting mobile filled year.

Ruth Zive
Ruth Zive 5pts

Spot on with these trends Frederic. The only thing I would add is the growing importance of video. As a driver of traffic, a vehicle for content marketing, a way to engage your audience and to brand your business. Can't deny it. Especially since Google owns YouTube!

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Cheers Pierre! I certainly believe the concept of "Digital Destination" will stick, as destinations around the world need to adapt to the ever-increasing presence of smartphones, tablets and overall technology adoption into our everyday lives. 2013 shall be a turning point, let's hope. All the best for the Holidays to you and your loved ones as well! Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks for reading and commenting, Alexandra. Liked your predictions too, with which I agree as well. Content will continue to be both an opportunity and a challenge but savvy marketers can make a big difference if companies embrace it in their business processes. Cheers, Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Theressa, and I appreciate the feedback. Cheers, Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

By mentioning Skype you echo Gazalla's previous comment, as she believes video-conferencing and trade shows will be a hot topic, and I don't disagree. I also see Skype and Google hangout as useful communications tool that make our working lives easier, while braking down barriers at the same time. Thanks for the comment and indeed, let's hope brands focus more on the strategy than on mere tactics... ;-) Cheers, Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks for the feedback and comment, Gazalla. Not sure that virtual trade shows and conferences will be a trend in 2013 more than they are presently. Their use is certainly increasing, but I think there will always be a need for old-fashioned people-to-people gatherings. Technology certainly makes webinars and virtual meetings more likely but just look at Social Media Examiner. They have been successful doing online summits for the past 3-4 years and what's their big novelty for 2013? A real "in person" gathering in San Diego, next April, for Social Media Marketing World event (which I will attend, by the way). So, we'll see... ;-) Cheers, Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks Erik! I think many of us come to think of mobile, social media and internet as a given, or common place while in fact there are many companies slow to embrace the change in technology and to realize the impact it represents for the organization as a whole. Moving forward in 2013 and beyond, it will be important for all to steer towards this major digital shift. Cheers, Frederic

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Oooh, great point Adi: I also think the situation with Google in France and Brazil may lead up to some changes, just like how online travel agencies may need to adapt if hoteliers have it their way and restrict how they use property names in AdWord campaigns, for example. As for crowdfunding, indeed it will be something to loof forward to, as it is very likely to become more prevalent in 2013. Cheers Adi, Frederic

Peter Trapasso
Peter Trapasso 5pts

Totally agree with your blog post AND Amanda's take! Was thinking the same thing.: Mobile! Mobile! Mobile!

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks Amanda, I think it will be an interesting year as well! ;-)

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Yes, video definitely could earn a spot on top trends to watch in 2013, even though I think it's a trend that's been going on for some time now. Excellent point, Ruth. Thanks and cheers! FG

Frederic Gonzalo
Frederic Gonzalo 5pts

Thanks Peter! Indeed, we could coin 2013 as the year mobile "finally" makes it mainstream into marketing, but let's just wait and see, shall we? :-)