As 2015 unwinds and we start thinking about the new year set to begin, it’s always an interesting exercise to take some time to reflect upon some of the up and coming trends that are emerging and that will most likely impact how we do business in months and years to come. And when it comes to online travel marketing, there is plenty happening – some may even say too much happening, too fast! Here are five trends to consider for 2016 for travel and hospitality marketers.
1. Social Media Advertising
Even though most popular social networks remain free when it comes to opening an account, the “pay to play” model is becoming the norm for brands wanting to stand out from the crowd. Yes, it’s still possible to have a dynamic presence on Twitter or Pinterest without reverting to ads, and many hotels, restaurants and attractions do a fine job of managing their accounts on TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google Review (through Google My Business) without giving into paid options. But let’s not kid ourselves: when it comes to Facebook, brands must now include some level of marketing dollars in order to reach their target audience. And organic engagement levels are also on the decline on Instagram.
In 2016, we can therefore expect more and more marketers to include marketing dollars for social media paid initiatives. Rather than increasing online marketing budgets, I suspect many hoteliers will consider transferring some funds from costly Google AdWords campaigns or tactics with very little return on investment or measurement possibilities.
2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile
Let’s get one thing clear right away: mobile is not a trend. By now, it has already impacted the very fabric of our everyday lives, including how we interact with other people and how we consume in general. In the travel sphere, mobile has clearly disrupted the online distribution ecosystem, along with customer service, marketing and the overall decision-making process. Not convinced? Google Think published a interesting report in November, defining the 4 mobile moments changing the customer journey. Here’s what they found:
During a two months period, prior to the 2014 Holiday Season, a typical consumer such as Amy engaged in 34 online searches, leading to at least 5 video views and a whopping 380 web visits. 87% of these digital moments happened on mobile. 87%. Think this is an anomaly? Think again. Emarketer published an article late November as well, predicting that in 2016, three quarters of online travel search will come from mobile, generating 51% of online travel revenues!
Read also: Why Mobile Changes Everything
3. Content Shock
Back in 2014, I wondered if there would be content shock in travel. Clearly, that was a rhetorical question. We are seeing today how much content is being shared across various digital outposts and it is becoming increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and noise. On YouTube alone, there is now more than 300 hours of content downloaded… every minute! There are more than 8 billion video views on Facebook every day. More than 350 million photos shared every day on Whatsapp. And on, and on, and on…
The reverse effect of this content overload is that consumers have less patience and attention span, since they are exposed to so much content on a constant basis: ads, promotions, humorous pictures, sad videos, TV show, web series, news, etc. How can travel brands get their message across in this environment? Pertinence will remain key, as it always has. But brands won’t be able to rely solely on their own content, as dynamic and original as it may be. Paid and earned media will become pivotal to a successful digital marketing approach, in particular using other people’s content (OPC), which is often considered more trustworthy than traditional advertising or editorial content.
4. Video Marketing
Storytelling, using compelling images and videos, is one of best tools in the travel marketer’s kit. In particular when brands embrace stories created by employees, locals or clients. Various brands, specially destinations, have jumped on board with this concept monitoring photos and videos shared by users on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook for example and then repurposing across other platforms, i.e. newsletters, website, other social media accounts.
Since earlier this year, Marriott hotels showcases an example of video marketing done right, that is, through the eyes of travelers experiencing the Caribbean and Latin America where properties lend a GoPro to travelers so they can share unique moments in their own unique style.
Yeah, but videos are expensive to create, right? Not so true anymore. Drones cost a fraction of a helicopter rental if you wish to get some spectacular aerial footage. And there are plenty of apps and software allowing for quality slideshows, with or without narration, with or without special effects and music. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to produce quality video content.
Last but not least, how will you keep visitors returning to your website in 2016? Did you know that despite of all your best efforts, it’s estimated that 92% of visitors will never return to your website? Remarketing is the process of advertising to these visitors once they have left your website, with a creative and/or offer to bring them back. While this is not a new marketing tactic, it used to be mostly handled by third-party agencies dealing with AdRoll or if you were savvy enough to load your own campaigns in Google AdWords. It is now child-play with Facebook’s native advertising manager.
And if you don’t use remarketing, there are also tools such as Ve Interactive that create a pop-up offer that remains open on your computer. When a user closes its internet browser later on during the day, the pop-up is still there with an offer to bring back the user to your site. What tools are you using to bring back visitors to your site?
Check out the free webinar I recently gave about these 5 upcoming online marketing trends for 2016!
Reminder: My limited time offer still stands for the online training series on the Fundamentals of Digital Travel Marketing. Save 25%, or more than $100! You will then have 6 months to watch the videos at your own pace.