There is no doubt that technology has an immense impact on almost all aspects of our daily lives, for consumer and businesses alike. The customer’s journey across all industries has changed significantly, and luxury travel & tourism is not any different in that regard. The new generation of affluent travelers is way more digital than before, and quite understandably, they expect businesses to be as digital savvy as they are, if not even more. On the other hand, with ever-evolving modern tech companies brands now can create highly personalized and targeted digital environments for their potential customers.
On top of that, a lot of businesses in the luxury travel space are now being forced into using technology for their daily operations (and this includes marketing, of course) on a way larger scale than before due to the ongoing pandemic. We believe that the industry won’t revert 100% to the old ways of doing business after the pandemic, so let’s take a look at how marketing in travel and tourism will be transformed by technology moving forward.
Immersive technology (augmented reality or AR, virtual reality or VR, and mixed reality or MR) is something that we at Jadewolf have been very excited about for quite some time. And now, with travel bans and lockdowns in place, we’ve seen in the last couple of months that many travel and tourism companies are getting really creative with application of these new options. From interactive 360° panoramas and virtual hiking trails to virtual tours in St. Marks Basilica or even the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the so-called “couch travel” is unsurprisingly quite popular right now. Does it mean that AR/VR tourism will replace actual travel? Of course not. But rather, immersive technology can be used to enhance the traveler’s experience and offer something unique, like, for example, a deep-sea exploration tour via VR.
Big data has been one of the most used buzzwords for the last few years, but there is still a lot of confusion over what it actually means and what to do with it, so it is not surprising at all that a lot of marketers, especially in luxury travel are not using data to their advantage. In one of our previous podcast episodes, we talked in detail about big data and how it can be used in travel marketing, so make sure to check it out if you need a primer on this topic.
In our opinion, using big data is crucial for the overall success of your luxury travel campaigns going forward. As travelers become more digitally savvy, they expect hyper-customized experiences with brands that go beyond a simplistic personalized email (we will in detail talk about this later in the post). Affluent travelers are no different in that sense. Big data helps luxury travel marketers not only understand their customers better, learn about their desires, and therefore craft a message that will resonate with them more deeply, but also to tap into their behaviors, preferences, and emotional triggers. By combining all this data, you will know exactly where and how to reach your potential customers more effectively.
As we mentioned before, highly personalized and customized content provided at all stages of the buyer’s journey will become even more important. When we are talking about hyper-personalized content here, we don’t mean having a simple email automation with custom fields in place. There are different kinds of martech solutions right now in the market that allow travel marketers to customize their website content based on their customers’ intent and their previous engagements with a brand, create sophisticated email campaigns using behavioral triggers, and more. In one of our recent episodes, we talked with HubSpot about how modern marketers can utilize their technology to provide ultra-personalized web experiences to their potential customers based on their activity and behaviors. As more luxury travel brands will adopt this idea of hyper-personalization, it will become a new norm in travel marketing space in no time.
Voice Search And Digital Assistants
Another big topic in travel & tourism marketing right now is the increasing use of digital assistants and, hence, the growing importance of voice search. According to Google data, over 1 in 3 across the globe are either interested or are already using digital assistants to research and book their trips. Voice search not only makes it easier for travelers to research and manage all aspects of their upcoming trips, but it also offers a unique medium for luxury travel and tourism brands to reach their potential customers through audio marketing. As more people start using virtual assistants, optimizing your content for voice search and making it discoverable will be critical.
Of course, voice search technology is still in its early stages of adoption, especially in the luxury travel space. However, it shouldn’t be ignored and completely discarded. Alexa, Siri, and other virtual assistants won’t replace luxury travel agents anytime soon, but they can act as a new point of contact for your company with affluent travelers in the future.
Mobile apps already made their way into high-end hospitality and private jet charters. Almost every major luxury hotel chain has its own mobile app, that allows customers to manage their bookings, loyalty program memberships, and so on. Jet charter companies, similarly to hotels, are offering a wide variety of apps to book charters directly, manage upcoming flights, and instantly access all necessary travel documents. However, when it comes to travel and tourism, luxury travel agencies are not as quick to jump on this new tech train as hotels or jet charters. And while there are some examples of travel agency or luxury cruise apps, there are not nearly as wide-spread. Similarly to hospitality and aviation, apps can be used to save time and avoid hassle for your customers by providing them with all their trip details and instant access to essential travel documents.
Another point worth mentioning is utilizing already existing market-specific apps. We are obviously talking about apps in “mobile-first” countries, like China to be precise. If Chinese affluent travelers are your target audience or you want to tap into this market in general, your business has to have an online presence on mobile apps like WeChat, Weibo, etc. or you simply don’t exist in that region for a large percentage of the customer base.
Chatbots have been a hot topic for quite some time, and are now widely used across different industries. There is a lot of potential for high-end travel companies here as well. Travel agents can’t be there at all times to answer all questions instantly (we are all humans and we need to sleep from time to time), but chatbots can. If you combine this technology with previously collected data on your customer behaviors and most common questions, your chatbot can then not only take care of information requests in real time but also provide personalized travel recommendations.
We already mentioned 360° panorama videos before, which in our opinion will become even more widespread. Aside from that, video, in general, will play a bigger role in marketing. Travel marketers should think beyond just the production of gorgeous videos showcasing certain destinations or tourist attractions, and be more creative with the medium. For example, you can always leverage social media (Instagram or TikTok, especially if you want to reach affluent Chinese millennials) for live-streaming or having a Q&A session about top travel destinations for the upcoming season.
Combining all these technologies, creating a super-powerful future proof marketing funnel and blowing away your competition by providing hyper-personalized, gorgeous booking experiences is becoming more possible everyday, assuming you have the right partner at your side advising you on this type of tech, and helping with creative implementation. If you feel like your business could use some of that innovation, book a call with us now, by filling out our request form.