Use content to win the battle for attention and tap into consumer desires to realise a better version of themselves.
Evidence suggests that born-digital consumers take a more intuitive and versatile approach to travel planning. The increasing likelihood that consumers often change their mind represents a challenge for travel brands who work hard to capture attention and create desire. But growing consumer appetite for immersive and inspirational content, suggests brands that get to grips with changing consumer aspirations and behaviour will thrive.
According to a recent Traveller Attribution Study from Expedia Media Solutions the typical consumer now visits 38 websites during the decision making process. The vast range of available choices and constant access to inspiration and information means consumers are changing their mind right up until the moment of booking.
Google’s research into the micro-moments that shape travel decisions reinforces these findings. Over 40% of travellers say they bounce back and forth between dreaming about and planning their next trip — zooming in on the details for one destination and then zooming out to reconsider the wider options. Study of an individual’s ‘I want to get away’ moments showed 7000 digital touch-points over 3-months.
This type of behaviour is reflected in rapidly rising content consumption. For example, among digital users in the U.K., “75% consume travel content, spending an average of 2.4 billion minutes per month on travel content collectively. That represents a 44% increase year over year.” What’s more, 67% of travellers say they are more likely to book with a travel brand that provides relevant information for the destinations in which they’re interested. Put simply, if you want to influence travel decision making you best be playing a good content game.
So what should travel brands publish, and where? Expedia’s research suggests that content preferences have evolved too. The top sources travellers consider when planning their trips were Travel reviews 59%, Social Media Images 54%, Youtube 31%, Travel blogs 11%. Facebook claim 60% of Millennial Travellers found ideas for their most recent trip on Instagram and Sprout Social’s research suggests 52% of travellers change plans after research on social media. Peer to peer reviews have dominated for some time but the growing influence of social images and video cannot be overstated.
It’s especially worth considering the influence of YouTube. Google claim that in any given month, over 100 million unique visitors are travellers. Their research suggests that three in five travellers who watch online video use it to narrow down their brand, destination, or activity choices. Expedia’s researchbacks this up — it suggests that video plays a role right up until the last minute — 45% booked instantly after watching a video of travel activities. Deploying video on any channel seems likely to have an impact, but targeting YouTube searches should be a major priority for travel brands.
Google search data shows that people tend to search for inspiration for vacation destinations based on geography or on a type of trip someone has in mind. But what actually motivates people to travel? Millennials say they’re looking for something new when they travel — more adventurous, local, and personal. Over 80% seek unique travel experiences and say that the best way to learn about a place is to live like the locals do.
In another survey by TripAdvisor, just under half said they would pick a destination because they want to experience a particular culture, and 78 percent want to learn something new while they travel. Experience, adventure, and culture, matter more than ever — travel content must speak to these aspirations.
The case for creating compelling visual and immersive travel content is strong, but how does this translate into a creative brief? What lies behind these motivations to live like a local and experience new things? It seems to me that these aspirations are rooted in a desire for personal transformation (more on that here). That the decision to go on holiday is increasingly framed in a desire to move toward a better version of myself. Or as Skift put it
“The endless search to realize the idealized version of themselves that they carry around in their head.” Consumers are looking for brands to deliver goods to “help them fulfil their dreams to be better human beings.”
Travel brands are in a unique and credible position to offer experiences that provide genuine opportunities to grow as a person. Social video, imagery, and influence, are the means to inspire born-digital consumers to take that journey with your brand.