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Mount your headsets and get ready. Virtual reality (VR) is fast-tracking its way to possibly reinventing the way travel is marketed and sold.

The highly engaging, interactive VR environments that are already taking the tech and gaming industries by storm offer the travel industry an entirely new platform for selling travel as the technology is rapidly becoming more accessible to the masses.

“The travel industry is going to be one of the industries that will be most impacted by the onset of virtual reality,” said Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit, which helps create and distribute VR video content for various companies, including numerous travel suppliers such as Carnival Cruise Line and destination marketing organizations.

“How do you give somebody a sense of what it’s really like to be somewhere without principally being there?” Mandelbaum said. “Why do people go on TripAdvisor? Because they want to get a better feel for the place. We see [VR] as a very natural evolution that has taken place [in travel marketing], from text to photos to videos to virtual tours to virtual reality. The main thing that makes the virtual experiences unique is that they’re interactive. That interactivity leads to immersion, and that immersion leads to conversion.

“YouVisit was among the growing number of VR vendors showcasing their products at the Consumer Electronics Show #CES# in Las Vegas earlier this month, where VR content creators and hardware manufacturers were inundated with attendees hoping to experience the latest in VR technologies.

From the much-buzzed-about, Facebook-owned Oculus to the impressive upstart HTC Vive, from companies selling live-event VR capabilities to outfits hawking the 360-degree cameras and contraptions necessary to create VR video content, the VR arena was where the action was at CES. And according to industry insiders, tuned-in travel companies should be just as amped about the exploding technology.

Sean Whitmore, a senior analyst for San Francisco-based VR intelligence gathering and consulting firm Greenlight VR, said, “We’re seeing strong interest by Generation Z [people currently ages 10 to 17], who are likely to be early adopters of virtual reality-enabled headsets for travel-based experiences. However, as we’ve seen in the data for our upcoming 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report, Baby Boomers [people ages 51 and up] are also very interested in the concept of experiencing travel destinations through virtual reality, with 38% saying they are likely to try it.”

According to Whitmore, travel companies would be smart to start experimenting with different kinds of VR marketing efforts in order to see what works best for them and to begin to get a better sense of the level of investment required and what the potential returns will be on that investment.

“It’s important to recognize that the industry is in the early days of VR as a medium for brand advertising, and as such, measurability remains a challenge,” Whitmore said. “Despite the challenge of measurability, some marketers are achieving impressive organic reach and millions of earned media impressions, while consumers are reacting very positively.”

Source: Virtual reality check: Travel Weekly

Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

 Just as travelers plan their trips to make the most of their stays, travel marketing experts need to plan their digital budgets and strategies to make the most of their spend. But with a new year come new choices, channels, and chances for online success.

To make the best digital decisions, travel marketers need to know the top trends, tech, and tactics that will matter to marketing in 2016. Rather than track down all of this data, your ticket to the latest travel insights is a fact-packed infographic created by MDG Advertising called Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Trends.

It pinpoints the five key strategies for making the most of your travel marketing budget and business over the next 12 months. To arrive at the right budget decisions, check out this informative infographic.

1. Spend on Your Website

Investing in your website is one of the wisest decisions you can make. With more and more people looking and booking on travel brand websites than third-party sites, your website delivers the first impression of your travel brand. And an optimized, user-friendly website can create a lasting impression and drive visitors to book without a second thought. The infographic shows:67% of travellers think it’s simpler to book on a travel brand website than a third-party site.

Almost two-thirds of travellers think it’s less expensive to book on a travel brand website.

Top Takeaway: To make the most of this mind-set, view your website as an important digital hub that gives online users everything they want and need.

2. Optimize MobileMobile has become a must in people’s lives, especially when researching and reserving travel. In 2016, even more travellers will be searching for travel online. According to the infographic, you can expect: 49% increase in mobile search for hotels and cruises. 47% rise in mobile search for car rentals and tours and attractions.

Top Takeaway: To serve this mobile market, make sure that all of your digital offerings, experiences, and communications are optimized for every mobile device.

3. Expect to Welcome More Millennials

Millennials already make up 40% of leisure travellers who book travel online. In 2016, their share of both the business and personal travel market will increase even more. To target these young adults, it’s essential to understand that Millennials have specific travel tendencies, such as:  They frequently book travel and share their experiences on mobile devices and digital platforms.

They tend to extend and blend business trips into personal vacations.

They spend more each day on trips than other age groups.

Top Takeaway: Use these Millennial insights to develop your digital properties and target your online messages.

4. Revisit Reviews

In 2016, online reviews and review sites will matter more than ever to travellers. According to the infographic:64% of travellers visit travel review sites like TripAdvisor for vacation ideas.

Almost half of travellers have been compelled to write a review after a travel experience.

Top Takeaway: Since these reviews are so important, travel brands need to regularly revisit and review all guest reviews to learn what they liked and lacked in their experiences.

5. Keep Your Eye on Video

Digital video is becoming more and more popular with travellers, especially on social networks. The infographic reveals these stunning statistics:

Top Takeaway: In 2016, video is a vital investment that must be incorporated with social media to reach and resonate with travellers.

 

Source: Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

INFOGRAPHIC: Millennials and Matures Cruise Into the Future | TravelPulse

There is a great deal of news and activity related to the growth of the cruise industry.  MMGY Global, an international travel marketing agency, has visualized it with a fantastic info-graphic not only showing the industry’s rapid acceleration but also the travellers most responsible for it:  millennials and matures.

The data was gathered from the 2015 Portrait of American Travellers survey and the two years that preceded it.

It is clear that cruise travel is no longer just for the senior set anymore, although matures still certainly account for an equal share.   Millennials, are finding cruising more and more appealing, especially as larger, more technologically advanced ships come on-line.

Stand-out influencers in choosing cruises should also make the cruise lines happy about the future, what with on-board gambling and shopping holding importance for over 50 percent of millennials compared to less than a quarter of matures.

Of even greater importance to the younger generation over the older one are kids’ activities.

 

Source: INFOGRAPHIC: Millennials and Matures Cruise Into the Future | TravelPulse

Royal Caribbean launching new marketing campaign that shows off incredible and immersive vacations | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean has launched a new marketing campaign entitled, “Come Seek”, that aims to show a Royal Caribbean cruise is more than just a vacation on a floating hotel.

The new campaign which made its début on October 19, 2015 conveys that a Royal Caribbean vacation is not simply a cruise and those that take a cruise are not taking a conventional vacation.

Royal Caribbean’s multi-million dollar campaign wants to “roll out red carpet for next generation of cruisers” that are not just new to cruising, but also tech-savvy and relish an immersive and experiential kind of vacation.

Royal Caribbean are calling these people “Seekers” because, travel is not about vacations or being a tourist: travel is a way of life.  “Come Seek” has three main messages: This is not a cruise; You are not a tourist; This is not the Caribbean.  At the end, it ends with simply, “This is the Royal Caribbean”.

Through a variety of channels, Royal Caribbean aims to have “Come Seek” invoke imagery of mashing up surprising on-board experiences, such as North Star, the FlowRider and connecting on social media with Voom high speed internet.  In addition, Royal Caribbean wants to show the depth of places to explore in the Caribbean.  All of this works towards giving guests experiences and memories that they cannot wait to show off to their friends and family.

New television ads made their début on the October 19th in 15 and 30 second spots.  In addition, Royal Caribbean added 5 second ads in programs with heavy live viewership on US TV networks, such as The Voice and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with a 30 second ad later on to expand upon the 5 second teaser.  People may also have seen 5 second ads will run across the web including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Going beyond traditional media:

Perhaps one of the most innovative parts of this new campaign are the brand new “live billboards” in the New York city area that will feature live look-ins to Royal Caribbean’s ships.  Two hundred and thirty geo-target units across New York City will show live broadcasts via Periscope in high traffic commuter areas, such as John F. Kennedy International Airport terminal, news stands and subways.

Using the Voom high speed internet, these live tune-ins from the ships to show off the experience as it’s happening in real time.  These live look-ins will occur throughout the month of November and be shown around peak commuting times.  Most, if not all, of the tune-ins will come from Anthem of the Seas sailings.

Royal Caribbean will also look to guests to suggest experience that Royal Caribbean should broadcast back on Periscope.  Going off the map Royal Caribbean is also trying something else new to show off the kind of amazing experiences waiting in the Caribbean with a new Tumblr page called, “Uncharted”.

Royal Caribbean crew members will become ambassadors and share content as they experience it on their cruises.These Uncharted experiences will also be on the website, advertising and social media.  If it proves successful, the program could eventually extend to guests and travel agents.

Getting noticed:  

The idea behind this kind of advertising is to get past the traditional produced and polished advertising people expect.

Royal Caribbean believes authentic experiences will be something guests really value and notice.Royal Caribbean is very cognizant that consumers are used to being advertised so much that a lot of gets tuned out or fast forwarded.  With live Periscopes and crew ambassador reviews, the hope is the public will take notice because this is not a traditional kind of ad.

Source: Royal Caribbean launching new marketing campaign that shows off incredible and immersive vacations | Royal Caribbean Blog

Why Asia’s cruise boom is ready to explode: Travel Weekly Asia

New studies on Asia’s cruise market released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) reveal a potential 83 million cruise passengers in Greater China and highlight how Hong Kong and regional ports are gearing up to tap into this market by upgrading cruise infrastructure and tourism offerings.

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In April 2014, the Hong Kong Tourism Board together with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau launched the first-ever Asia Cruise Fund, an initiative aimed at offering better support to cruise lines and promoting regional co-operation for attracting cruise tourism.

The studies – the Asia Cruise Potential and Passenger Behaviour Study and the Asia Cruise Port Development Study – are the first of their kind and were released this week at Cruise Shipping Miami.

The two studies were carried out by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with the aim of providing insight and useful information to help cruise companies unlock the region’s cruise potential.

The Asia Cruise Potential and Passenger Behaviour Study specifically examined the potential market in Greater China, which is currently the largest source of cruise travellers in Asia and the eighth largest in the world, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The study reveals a potential 83 million cruise passengers in just seven source markets within Greater China. This figure is four times the current number of cruise passengers world-wide. Hong Kong, with its connectivity to the Pearl River Delta, Central China and Taiwan by air, high speed rail and land transportation via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, is looking at a cruise potential of 54 million passengers.

The study also reveals that the make-up of these passengers is younger and more family-oriented than cruise passengers in traditional source markets such as North America and Europe, where they tend to be older, retired achievers.

The second study, Asia’s Cruise Port Development Study, focused on the development of ports in Hong Kong and neighbouring areas. Its results highlight the commitment throughout the region to facilitate the growth in cruise business by improving port facilities and tourism offerings in the next five to 20 years.

Positioning Hong Kong as the home ship destination, the study identifies 21 ports within 6-7 cruise days which already have concrete plans to upgrade berths, cruise infrastructure and supporting infrastructure, as well as expand tourism offerings and improve destination management in areas such as the issuing of visas.

These ports include: Sanya, Xiamen, Zhoushan, Qingdao and Yantai in China, Keelung, Hualien, Kaohsiung, Anping, Taichung, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu in Taiwan, Miyakojima and Takamatsu in Japan, Mokpo and Yeosu in South Korea, Hon La in Vietnam, plus Manila, Boracay and Puerto Princesa in the Philippines.

According to the study, within five years, half of these ports will be able to receive cruise ships of 100,000 gross tonnage. This will give cruise companies more flexibility in deploying their fleet and planning interesting itineraries with cultural, scenic or adventure activities to cater for all market segments.

Anthony Lau, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said, “With the results of the two surveys showing the great potential and committed development, combined with the Asia Cruise Fund, Asia’s cruise tourism is ready to take off.”

In April 2014, the Hong Kong Tourism Board together with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau launched the first-ever Asia Cruise Fund, an initiative aimed at offering better support to cruise lines and promoting regional co-operation for attracting cruise tourism.

The fund now has four members since the addition of Hainan in China and the Philippines. More new members are expected to join soon.

via Why Asia’s cruise boom is ready to explode: Travel Weekly Asia.

Smooth Seas for Cruising in 2015 – Travel Market Report

Cruise Market2014 was a strong year for cruising, with safety concerns being mostly minimized and increased demand in the U.S. being captured in the Caribbean and other regions. Group sales boomed, while booking windows lengthened. Pricing, however, remained stagnant as cruisers continued to take advantage of steep discounting.

But what is in store for the cruise industry in 2015? Travel Market Report asked cruise industry executives to reflect on the events of 2014, and cast a critical eye toward the opportunities of 2015

via Smooth Seas for Cruising in 2015.

Carnival Launches “Moments That Matter” Trade Advertising Campaign | Travel Agent Central

Carnival Cruise Lines is launching a new trade advertising campaign beginning Monday, Oct. 7, that integrates the line’s new “Moments That Matter” consumer marketing campaign and includes real vacation photos from past Carnival cruisers, collected through social media. The trade campaign, which appears in print and online outlets, includes a tagline thanking travel agents for creating the moments that matter for the guests in the ads.

via Carnival Launches \\\”Moments That Matter\\\” Trade Advertising Campaign | Travel Agent Central.