How has digitalisation transformed travel marketing?
Digitalization has changed tourism. Exploring new destinations, booking, planning what to do and even post-holiday reviews about our experiences – all of this takes place online.
At ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel fair, digitalization is a core topic for 10,000 exhibitors from 186 countries.
Apps, social media, virtual reality, 360 degrees videos – it’s the end of traditional travel as we know it.
And no matter who you speak to, they’ll tell you it’s a game changer
Today’s tourists interact at every stage of their journey.
A great experience – and, conversely, a bad one – is likely to be exposed much more than ever before through social networks.
So how do travel destinations do this?
The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean increasingly lets influencers temporarily take over its own social media accounts.
The national tourism board says that influencers are not paid. What they get is the country’s beauty as a backdrop to impress and to enlarge their following.
“What they do for us”, say Sherin Francis, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. “Is they drive a lot of their traffic to our social media page. And once the people are on there, they stay on there. They are now our followers even if after one week the influencers give us back the page. “
Yet tourists can become advertisers. Visitors were asked to film their experiences. The prize for the winning Romanian couple: another trip to the Seychelles – this time to the presidential villa on the North Island.
It might be a bit wobbly at times, but the entrants sure generate plenty of free of charge footage.
“The amount of content it’s amazing,” says France. “We would have had to pay $50,000 dollars to get a company to produce this content. And we did it through a competition and of course we will be doing more of this. “
So how do you get your target group involved? It’s a key question for the travel industry today. The larger the potential audience, the bigger you have to think.
“People are glued to their phones,” says Cathy Domanico, Vice President, Global Trade Development, Brand USA. “So we created apps, we created large-screen movies to help people learn about destinations.”
The US has just launched not just a website or a social media page but an entire first-of-its-kind connected TV network called Go USA.
It is a source for on-demand video content about travel experiences in the USA, in single episodes or even travel series.
Brand USA say its aim is to generate three million views in the TV network’s first year.
“It’s a great platform,” says Domanico. “It’s loaded with destination content and the audience can stream it.”
Kazakhstan is launching an online game through which tourists can explore 100 holy sites.
“There will be an app you’ll be getting certain currency, like coins,” says Kairat Sadvakassov, Deputy Chairman, Kazakh Tourism. “The more you progress with visiting and travelling these 100 spots, you’ll be getting titles. The highest title will be Khan, the coins you’ll get while travelling you’ll be able to monetize, to upgrade your flight, depending on the partners we have on this program.”
The app will have both content for virtual play and content closely tied to geo-location, which means you can only discover it on the ground by visiting Kazakhstan’s diverse landscapes.
Although the game will be mostly for a home audience to begin with, Kazakh Tourism says engagement is a field with great untapped potential – both domestically and internationally.
Fun in the sun for your holidays seems to be a thing of the past. Travellers today want more.
User experience, personalization and proactivity are the new watchwords.
And destinations such as India are aware of these changes.
Alphons Kannanthanam, Indian Tourism Minister: “Today actually people don’t just travel for the sake of travelling. People want to have individual experiences. So, it all depends on a whole lot of feedback. So I think that influenced the decision making of people. This is true about younger people, but when you mean young people, anybody up to 60 is pretty young today. “
With expectations getting ever higher, travel destinations need to produce large volumes of content – and also update it continuously.
“Our presence is almost real time”, says Dr. Nitin B. Jawale, Director of Tourism for the Government of Indian region Odisha. “When something of importance happens, for example when we’re here at ITB Berlin, our stand was inaugurated by the honorable Tourism Minister of India, we send those updates real time and this is how we get a lot of followers.”
Virtual Reality – a technology poised to change our daily lives – also excites the travel industry.
The interesting thing about VR is that you can go to places you might not necessarily want to go to yourself but still want to see somehow, such