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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

One Image Tells You Exactly How Millennials And Centennials Travel

With millennials on average spending more than any other generation on travel, visual search, insights, rights management and publishing solutions provider Chute recently conducted a survey in an effort to illuminate the generation’s travel habits.

Chute surveyed 200 millennials (aged 18-34) and centennials (aged 13-17) about what inspires their travel as well as how they share and consume travel-related content.

While unsurprisingly, social media is the No. 1 source of travel inspiration for millennials, more than half of surveyed centennials indicated that in-person recommendations were their top source. Based on Chute’s survey, millennials also rely more heavily on destination websites, travel agents and print media for inspiration, whereas centennials get more inspiration from travel television ads.

When it comes to consuming travel content, both generations can agree on social media, with Instagram, Facebook and YouTube leading the way. Keep in mind that centennials tend to prefer Instagram to Facebook, and vice versa for millennials.Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter are also popular means of consumption.

As expected given their travel-related content consumption habits, Instagram has emerged as the preferred sharing method for centennials, with 45 percent indicating they are most likely to share through the photo-based social networking service.Meanwhile, 63 percent of millennials said they are most likely to share their travel experiences on Facebook.

Interestingly, while centennials are slightly more likely to share their travel experiences after their trip than millennials, the latter generation is more likely to share during their trip.

“This study indicates how they [millennials] choose where to travel is very different than previous generations and many standard marketing approaches will fall flat,” said Chute co-founder and CEO Ranvir Gujral in a statement. “Destinations that wish to reach these travelers must adjust their marketing strategies to include a strong social component and work to understand both the content and platforms most important to them in order to be successful in the near and long term.”The following infographic courtesy of Chute provides additional insight.

Source: One Image Tells You Exactly How Millennials And Centennials Travel | TravelPulse

UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit to Address Destination Branding | World Tourism Organization UNWTO

UNWTO logoThe 2015 UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit at World Travel Market London will put a spotlight on destination branding and how it has become an increasingly complex challenge (WTM London, Tuesday, November 3, 2015).

 

Destination management organisations are re-evaluating their structures and strategies to adapt to new market trends created by social media and new business models, such as the so called “sharing economy” and the growing  empowering of consumers.

Moderated by CNN journalist Richard Quest, Tourism Ministers and private sector leaders from around the world will discuss Destination Branding: new challenges in a changing market.

The 2015 edition of the UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit will focus on:

  • What makes a successful destination brand in today’s globalised media landscape?
  • The links between nation branding and destination branding
  • The role of social media and consumers’ engagement in destination branding
  • Reputation management and crisis communication
  • The changing role of destination marketing organisations; and
  • The contribution of the creative economy to destination branding

Confirmed speakers include;

  • Nikolina Angelkova, Minister of Tourism, Bulgaria
  • Mauricio Ventura Aragón, Minister of Tourism, Costa Rica
  • Darko Lorencin, Minister of Tourism, Croatia
  • Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive Officer, Eurostar International
  • Noah Tratt, Global Senior Vice President, Expedia, Inc.
  • Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel, Facebook
  • Nayef H. Al-Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan
  • Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister of Tourism, Malta
  • Magali Silva, Minister of Foreign Trade and Tourism, Peru
  • Issa Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, Qatar
  • Frantisek Palko, State Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Construction and Regional Development, Slovakia
  • Derek Hanekon, Minister of Tourism, South Africa
  • Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Zimbabwe

The discussion will be further enriched by the participation of more than 150 Ministers and aides poised to attend the event.

“The rise of the new technologies, coupled with the global economic downturn, has brought a paradigm shift as power moves from governments to citizens and from companies to consumers. This change is having a huge impact in the tourism sector and both destinations and companies need to adjust to new challenges”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “The UNWTO and WTM Ministers’ Summit is a fixture in the calendar for ministers and private sector to debate the key issues facing the industry. Destination branding is becoming even more complex challenge as consumers empowered by new business models such as the sharing economy and social media have an impact on a destination’s brand and reputation. I am delighted WTM is again able to facilitate such an important conversation.”

Now in its ninth year, the UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit is part of the World Travel Market London Ministerial Programme, bringing together Tourism Ministers and leading tourism experts to debate each year key issues affecting the sector.

Source: UNWTO/WTM Ministers’ Summit to Address Destination Branding | World Tourism Organization UNWTO

The Iranian Tour Continues in Tabriz

Duncan Alexander from The Travel Marketing Store has been delivering a keynote address as the 5th Conference on Digital Marketing in Tourism in Iran.  The four city conference has been held in Terhan, Mashad, Tabriz and will be held in Banda Abbas on Thursday 3rd September.

The topic of Duncan’s presentation has been “The Impact of Technology on Travel Marketing and the opportunity for National Tourism Platforms”.  Speaking in Tabriz today Duncan stated that Iran had a unique opportunity as a nation to develop a single source, multi-language distribution platform for its tourism products.   “Should the right public private partnership be created”, he stated, “Iran could build a new generation distribution platform for its magnificent tourism products”.

P1030486Following a moving visit to the  Holy Shrine of Iman Reza in Mashad earlier this week Duncan today visited another UNESCO site, the Bazaar of Tabriz which is the largest covered Bazaar in the world. He commentated “This again, like most of the experiences we have had in the country so far, was amazing.  The Bazaar was a sensual feast of sights, sounds and smells and should be in every persons bucket list for Iran” .

The Digital Marketing in Tourism Conference, organised by media company Kaspid, has been attended by nearly 2,000 delegates so far.  “The thirst for knowledge sharing is so evident from the enthusiasm of the delegates who are keen to learn how to develop their visitor economies through studying international best practices”, stated Duncan.  “There are certainly new partnerships to be forged in this culturally and historically rich country”.

Social Media and Travel Go Hand in Hand (Infographic) | SocialTimes

Social Media and Travel Go Hand in Hand (Infographic) | SocialTimes.

Social media has provided many opportunities for businesses in all categories. Customer service, marketing, and customer engagement have all emerged as useful tools for achieving your business goals. Social media can also have unintended benefits, as more users share on specific topics. According to an infographic from Internet Marketing Inc, travel companies can benefit a lot from this specific sharing.

Facebook is one of the prime destinations for sharing life events and travel related content. 52 percent of users surveyed said their friend’s photos inspired travel plans, and 76 percent post their vacation photos to social networks.

During vacation research, 55 percent of those surveyed liked pages relating to the trip they were planning. This is a very important touch-point for travel brands, as social media is an important research tool for vacationers. If a brand is able to present itself to a vacationer then it could influence those 33 percent that change hotels, or the 7 percent that change their destination.

Brands can also influence potential customers as they research their potential vacations. Humorous posts nudging readers toward taking vacations, posting breathtaking images, interacting with consumers who reach out, and creating brand advocates are all great ways to engage users and potentially push them toward your brand.

Leveraging the power of the types of content users choose to share on certain networks can give your business model a major leg up. Engaging with those consumers who are excited about the services you provide should always be the aim of your social media activity.

IMI_Infographic-Social-Media_Blog

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse

Engagement Labs, the technology and data company, has recently released the social media rankings of the top performing hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites.

The rankings are based on Engagement Labs’ eValue scores, which take into account three factors: Engagement, Impact and Responsiveness.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices

The top three hospitality companies on Twitter are (in order) Hyatt Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Trump Hotel Collection. Hyatt was highlighted for using highly visual vacation-related content and the use of creative hashtags.

The top three Facebook marketers in the hotel industry are The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. Ritz-Carlton stood out based on its regular engagement with travelers and its posting of images and facts of its resorts.

“As social media is increasingly becoming an all-purpose communication tool, the hotel industry excels by providing real-time information to their customers on their social media channels,” said Bryan Segal, chief executive officer of Engagement Labs, via a release. “Companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Hyatt Hotels utilize their social media channels to provide up-to-date resort news and industry information as a one stop shop for their audiences.”

American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines led carriers in Twitter marketing. American Airlines also was No. 1 in Facebook marketing, followed by Island Air and Delta Air Lines.

On Twitter, American Airlines was adept at responding to consumer postings and weaving in topical news and events to drive interest, according to Engagement Labs.

On Facebook, American Airlines received a high eValue score for updating travelers on company information and relating major news and events back to the airline industry (to celebrate Women’s History Month, the major carrier asked Facebook followers to share stories about female American Airlines members who exemplified premier customer service).

In terms of the travel aggregators (OTAs and metasearch sites), Hotels.com, OneTravel and CheapOair were the top Twitter marketers (parent company Fareportal owns both OneTravel and CheapOair). Hotels.com was highlighted for using Twitter to dish out the latest deals and promotions, as well as posting travel tips and trivia to boost engagement.

BookIt.com, Orbitz Worldwide and Travelocity were the top three Facebook marketers. BookIt.com scored highly in large part because the site posted articles that included travel ideas, tips for things to do in particular destinations, and contests for their followers to win trips to different destinations.

Travelers on social media “want convenience, trusted brands and good deals,” Segal said. “Social media is a key resource to help consumers navigate the complexity of travel today. We see marketers optimizing social channels to enhance user experience, customer satisfaction and develop trust and loyalty with their audiences.”

Engagement Labs’ eValue Analytics leverages more than 300 conventional social media metrics to produce a single benchmarked score, analyzing more than 75,000 handpicked, verified brands that include marketers, advertisers, publishers and broadcasters around the world.

via Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse.

Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept

PRESS RELEASE 

Middle East’s Premier Travel Marketing Event to convene in Dubai on 24th September

Insights from over 30 leading travel marketing experts

Dubai Tourism, Expedia, Yahoo, SkyTech and IBEX Global added to the conference content

Travel Marketing leaders to gather in Dubai to discuss a diverse yet interrelated set of topics

 

Press Release: Dubai – 18th September 2014 

In just under a week the Middle East’s premier Travel Marketing event will take place in Dubai.

Some of the world’s leading travel brands and marketing services providers will gather for a day of knowledge sharing and business development.

 

Amadeus, a leading travel technology company, will present a report on Middle East booking trends, internet penetration, smart phone usage, booking and  payment patterns, booking channels and social media trends in the travel sector.

Illusions Online, a Dubai based travel business technology provider for the leisure sector, will talk to their new generation cloud based leisure packaging capability and their strategy to create a global online travel exchange.    

 

Other speakers come from leading brands such as Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Jumeirah and Emirates.

The programme also includes interviews with the Head of Strategy for dnata travel and the CEO of The Entertainer.  Technology companies such as SkyTECH Solutions and Comarch will share their views on Big Data and Customer Relationship Management in the travel sector.

In a key panel on destination marketing, Dubai Tourism will highlight the power of local advocacy.

Yahoo will present a case study on how they have assisted travel companies with their online exposure and IBEX Global will highlight their recent regional launch of their Customer Experience Management Technology.

Mohamed Al Rais, Deputy CEO of Al Rais Travel, will be joined by representatives from Expedia, destinia.com and e-Tourism Frontiers on a panel debate on the development of the online travel market.

Porton Group will reveal a revolutionary technology that can be used by the travel sector to screen travellers for potentially contagious diseases without significant disruption to the airline check-in process.

Duncan Alexander, Director at The Travel Marketing Store stated “We have been delighted by the response that we have received from the travel marketing community to the concept of our event. The content is truly exceptional and we look forward to what will be an enlightening day”.

Over 40 companies will be represented at this year’s event which will also hold “The Global Travel Marketing Awards” and “The Market Place for Travel Marketing Services” where buyers and suppliers meet to discuss new services.

via Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept.

Boston Consulting Group – Facebook Report – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Facebook logoTravel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Early Movers Can Cement Significant Advantage by Personalizing the Travel Journey

According to a New Report by BCG and Facebook BOSTON, June 19, 2014—

Although it was one of the first industries to be disrupted by digital commerce, travel and tourism has been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by mobile technology, according to Travel Goes Mobile, a new report by The Boston Consulting Group and Facebook. This reticence has left the playing field wide open for early movers. Those that miss the shift will find catching up increasingly difficult once consumers patterns of behavior and relationships with mobile apps and the companies behind them solidify.

BCG Logo“Early movers in travel, especially those companies that design successful mobile apps, have the opportunity to establish lasting advantage,” said Jason Guggenheim a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. “For many travel suppliers, this means an opportunity to strengthen or reestablish customer relationships that have been eroded by online intermediaries. For intermediaries, it means rethinking their offerings to protect the positions they have established on the PC. Winners will need to understand their customers’ mobile-usage trends, tailor their marketing, and even adapt their operating models accordingly.”

Estimates of the number of apps installed on the average smartphone vary, depending on who is doing the counting, but they range from about 25 to about 40. So far, only a few travel-company apps are used regularly by a significant share of consumers. Most travel companies have converted fewer than 20 percent of their PC customers to mobile-app usage, and no travel app has established itself as the go-to resource on more than 2 percent of smartphones.

The report argues that the biggest opportunity for travel companies is to cement relationships with customers—especially a company’s best, high-value customers—by offering them truly personalized service and experience. Mobile apps generate information related to usage, searching, time of use, location of use, spending, preferences, friends and followers, and countless other kinds of data. The more a travel company engages customers through mobile devices, the more information it can synthesize to personalize messages and the in-app customer experience. This information can also be used to segment the company’s best customers on the basis of frequency of use and expenditure, among other criteria, including their current location, time of day, and status.

“The tools and capabilities available to travel companies continue to expand as digital and mobile technologies improve,” Lee McCabe, global head of travel strategy at Facebook and a report coauthor, said. “This paper reveals the extraordinary role mobile technology can and will continue to play in travel and the tremendous value it can add to travel companies and travelers’ experiences. Sophisticated apps, combined with rich data and targeting capabilities, allow for personalized marketing at scale. The ability to perfectly time and tailor messages on the basis of rich data is very powerful from a business standpoint—for both brand- and direct-response-related objectives.”

The single log-in functionality offered by Facebook, for example, enables seamless movement among apps, eliminating the need to log in for each visit. Innovations such as app install ads, conversion ads, and deep links further simplify moving among multiple apps, which is great for the user and generates tremendous data for marketers.

The report points out that mobile “gatekeepers” have the power and sophistication to vastly augment travel companies’ own data-collection and analysis efforts with the vast amount of consumer information they manage. The biggest gatekeepers today are the device manufacturers and the companies behind the main mobile-operating systems and app stores, app-to-app marketers, and social networks and messaging app operators. The top three—Facebook, Google, and Apple—currently account for half of total app usage.

The report argues that, in terms of apps, travel companies want their customers to do three things: discover and download their apps, engage with them at multiple stages of the travel journey, and find the experience so simple, satisfying, and useful that they want to come back and use the apps again—to the exclusion of other available travel apps.

This means that travel companies need to design apps with functionality that customers—especially high-value customers—prize and that other travel companies cannot match, market the app effectively for both ease of installation and engagement, experiment and bring out new functionality quickly to keep the app fresh and make it more useful, and make the experience more personal over time.

To download a copy of the report, please go to www.bcgperspectives.com.

via BCG – Press Release – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity.

Content marketing key for travel businesses leveraging Google – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News

Travel Distribution Summit Asia 2014, Singapore, May 29,

2014 TRAVEL companies must begin to think of themselves as content publishers to survive Google’s landmark shift to a semantic search algorithm.

Speaking yesterday at the EyeforTravel Travel Distribution Summit Asia 2014, Bronwyn White, director of MyTravelResearch.com, said: “Search is the one constant tool that travellers use in every stage of the path to purchase. “Semantic search is an algorithm that uses true meaning, intent and context to identify and prioritise websites with relevant content to the user.”

Google

Google (Photo credit: warrantedarrest)

Google now does this by drawing on a user’s personal information including geographic location, previous search history and social media behaviour. “Because search results are now highly personalised, we’re no longer chasing the holy grail of page one on Google, but people who are potentially really interested in what we say and do,” White noted. “If your content is likeable and shareable, Google says: ‘Hey! You must be an expert on your topic, we’ll trust you.’ Search engines will increase your authority ranking and will more likely present your page when users are looking for a related topic,” she elaborated.

When asked how travel companies should respond, White told TTG Asia e-Daily: “You’ve got to get the basics right. So make sure your website is structured right, your Google accounts are linked, your social media profiles all have the same website address associated with your company, so there is consistency in your social signals. “From there, just keep creating interesting content. Be clear about who your customer is and who you’re going to be talking to, then gear your content towards that. Create little personas.”

Talking about things that are related would also provide context and take advantage of the “serendipity of search engines”, she added.Companies that do not have the funds to conduct large-scale research could also drill down to a fundamental principle of the industry – talking to the customer. Said White: “There’s no harm asking your customers as they come through the door what they want to talk about, what interests them. “It’s not expensive and the thing is – there are a lot of unemployed journalists out there looking for work. There are also content marketing agencies, but for smaller operations, practise doing it yourself.”

It’s also important to know where the market is, she emphasised. “Where do your customers hang out on social media? Are they on Facebook, Twitter?” “For time-poor travel industry people, work on one platform. Get it right! Do one and engage properly rather than spreading yourself thin because that’s going to increase the quality of your content,” she advised.

via Content marketing key for travel businesses leveraging Google – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News.

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