Back to the Future: 2017 Digital Travel Trends To Get on Board With
We may already be a quarter of the way through 2017 but with nine months of the year left to go, there’s still plenty of time to ramp up your digital hotel marketing plans. One easy way to differentiate your online presence from your competitors and offer a satisfying, seamless experience for visitors is to be bang on trend – if you’re ready to kick your marketing up a gear and looking for innovative new strategies to generate more revenue and more bookings, consider adding some or all of these emerging trends to your digital hotel marketing plan of action.
It’s been around a while, but in 2017 virtual reality is more accessible than ever. Travel agent Thomas Cook is setting the pace in the travel sector, offering virtual reality experiences in a series of experience-rich specialist high street stores its calling Discovery branches. While it requires some investment and specialist expertise, virtual reality makes for a distinctive addition to any digital hotel marketing strategy. It can be used to give tours of your accommodation or allow travellers to explore premium excursions and the local area before they even unpack. Offering this kind of immersive content can be a winning differentiator.
Chatbots have been running mainly under the radar but expect them to go mainstream in 2017. Some brands have already started to adopt the technology and incorporate it into some aspects of their marketing and customer service but, there are plenty of ways to be an innovator in the hotel sector. There are a multitude of ways you can incorporate chatbot tech into your website – use it to drive personalised experiences by offering returning visitors a more tailored interaction based on past behaviours. A customer service chatbot can sit on your site and answer questions about room availability or field frequently asked questions such as cancellation policy, additional room taxes and distance from public transport links.
The US train provider, Amtrak has used a chatbot to do just that for its web customers, rolling out ‘Julie’ to help travellers find information about routes, bookings and its rewards program. It has reported a 25% increase in overall bookings and 30% more revenue per booking since the chatbot launched.
Word of mouth has always been the best way to drive sales but consumers have been slower to place their trust in online reviews. This all looks set to change in 2017 with local evangelists Bright Local’s annual survey finding a massive 8 out of 10 customers now trust online reviews as much as they would a personal recommendation. Only 9% of online consumers ignore reviews and 9 out of 10 online shoppers will read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business. This leaves a very small window of opportunity to create the right first impression and convert an intent-rich search into a confirmed room reservation.
It used to be that live streaming was costly, time consuming and fraught with tech challenges. This perception is now outdated and a couple of exciting launches in the social media sector have put live streaming firmly within reach and within budget for any and all businesses looking for new ways to connect with their audiences.
Facebook Live Streaming is now available to all users and means you can use it to interact with your guests and share special events as they happen. It can be used to field questions, reach new audiences and share your engaging content in new ways.
Holding a special event such as a wedding? Offer to live stream for guests who can’t be there in person. Launching a new amenity or debuting a new style of suite? Live stream it to get the word out. The possibilities are limitless. YouTube also offers a live streaming option and there are plenty of apps and tools to take it up a notch.
It’s been a buzz word for the last couple of years but expect influencer marketing to really come of age in 2017. There are now legitimate celebrities across almost every industry, formed off the back of blog posts and YouTube videos. This new generation of celebrities has a powerful voice and several have already cashed in with profitable brand collaborations, book deals and clothing lines.
2017 will see a more sophisticated evolution with brands and influencers working together to create unparalleled and specific content experiences rather than churning out the same old style of sponsored post or influencer endorsement. Consider partnering with micro-influencers as well as the more influential trail blazers in channels like YouTube and Snapchat to set your digital hotel marketing apart from the crowd.
It’s taken a while for many brands to figure out how to extract a decent ROI from social and figure out its place in the marketing mix. While it’s not a direct sales channel, it is essential for actually delivering sales. Social amplification will be a hot topic in 2017 – with hotels and travel innovators really honing in on what works and how to amplify social impact. This will pull in lots of other disciplines such as live streaming and content marketing as well as demand scheduling savvy, data analysis and listening capabilities. Tap into this trend to amplify your messages (such as greater awareness of deals and USPs) and deliver more successful content experiences to clients.