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Insights

We draw inspiration from the world around us and we want to share our knowledge with you. Tap into our latest thinking on the issues that matter most in hospitality today and find out what trends are going to shape our industry in the future.

The Connected Traveller Strikes Back
19 January 2017, by Nikhil Virmani in Trends

The demographic of today’s travellers is changing, and it’s very important to stay in dialogue with them. I must admit, I started part one with a focus on the terminology Millennials, but gradually good sense prevailed and I drifted away to using Connected Travellers in my references thereon; It seems like we’ve been having the wrong conversation all along. Broad age group generalizations make no sense in today’s culture. It’s about finding passionate niches that will propel brands.

Travel is extremely essential to this global-minded, connected and diverse demographic, 42% of whom say they travel to make their lives more complete, according to a Cassandra Report. For travel brands, this presents many new opportunities to engage with connected consumers, who leave behind an ever-growing trail of data that can be used to improve business and enhance the customer experience.

Today’s empowered, connected consumers demand navigating the evolving path to purchase through multiple, predominantly digital touch points — sources they refer to before, during and after shopping. They want the advantages of digital, such as broad selection, rich product information, and customer reviews and tips. They want the advantages of physical stores, such as personal service, the ability to touch products, and shopping as an event and an experience. Different customer segments will value parts of the shopping experience differently, but an ideal segment is likely to want perfect integration of the digital and the physical.

The connected consumer is increasingly non-aligned to brand names and is showing its indifference to traditional brand cues and inclining towards more sophisticated new private label offerings. Essentially more brand agnostic.Technology enables travel providers & retailers alike to deliver a much more personalized experience to the consumer to counter the non-alignment. We've already seen to what some call 'mass customization' where you can, for example, go online and customize the design of your Nike trainers, geo tag restaurant & retail recommendations etc.

Specifically, in the context of the travel industry, these touch points unveil a consumer behavior across the web that show marketers who their potential travelers may be, where they are, and other passion points. But what is interesting to note this year is travelers don’t merely turn to the web to book, get ideas or inspiration for a trip; they’re also relying on it to get their trip right. Youtube/Vimeo is playing a larger role as more travelers are discovering “travel hacks”. #Videomarketinggetsbigger. Let's face it—people no longer distinguish between online video, mobile video, or linear TV. They watch what they want, when they want, on the screen they want. Digital & experiential storytelling backed with strong content across different digital vacuums will help attract these niches and build powerful communities.

It’s no secret mobile has changed how consumers behave. With the consumer journey fragmented into hundreds of micro-moments, it’s increasingly important for travel brands to be there when consumers reach for their devices. In many ways, micro-moments have become the footsteps that lead people to your store or desktop site or sometimes a purchase decision. At Google, they are referred to as micro-moments. They're the moments when you turn to a device—often your smartphone—to act on whatever you need or want right now. They’re the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-buy, and I-want-to-do moments that are loaded with intent, context and immediacy.

According to Booking.com, over 50% of traveler journeys start on mobile. And, travelers who book on a mobile device are more likely to book last minute, with three-quarters of same day bookings happening on a mobile device. This is testament to the fact for any travel/hotel brand optimizing and budgeting for a “mobile first” strategy. Expect to see more mobile loyalty programs, as well as convenient mobile services such as ordering & unique payment solutions.

Avg. devices per person
Exhibit A: Consumer Barometer Google 2016- Avg.devices used per person

The secret weapon for leading marketers to tap into this consumer demand isn't classified business insights or cutting edge technology; it's their mindset. They recognize that evolution is needed to measure marketing's real impact and to drive results in a constantly evolving cross device/ multiscreen world.(Exhibit A)

It’s imperative we change the way we think of generations & consumer groups, we can’t make them monolithic, each one is different in their points of view, and in way of consumption. Let’s not stereotype but serve an audience by creating great products & services; validating their purpose/use through the rich data we collect across the board. From a travel industry perspective, Chip Conley, Global Head of Hospitality & Strategy Airbnb struck a chord with me when he was quoted at the Skift NYC Global Forum last year “Data scientists represent what revenue managers represented 25 years ago. This is a huge differentiator in the long term: personalization and customization. We need to get smart around data science.” #Backtobasics and keeping it simple being the mantra.

The concept of big data has trickled down to the average consumer, and now they want to see what giving up all this personal information can get them, and they want good news. With an abundance of unharnessed travel & behavioral data available and to be explored, 2017 is expected to bring about enhanced capabilities within the tracking & data connectivity spectrum.

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