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In the era of marketing, social media is at the center of changing travel trends. Travel inherently has always been a social activity, not only because it involves friends and family, rather because everyone likes to share their experiences with others. Before social media came into being, travelers were eager to provide social-media-type feedback about their travel. They would organize photo albums or slideshows that have now been replaced by blogs and Instagram posts.
Social media: The platform of choice
Passing travel experience or information has evolved from word-of-mouth and reading brochures, to leaving reviews on online travel sites and picturesque posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. This is why companies like TripAdvisor moved to a social-media-type platform to maintain their booking capabilities; Ctrip’s Instagram-like platform now links booking capabilities to posts; and Lonely Planet acquired TRILL Travel, which turns Instagram posts into bookable experiences.
Today social media platforms such as Instagram have more than 500 million active users sharing an average of 85 million photos a day. About 40% of Instagram users under 33 voted that travel photos incite new wanderlust, and ‘instagrammability’ was one of the top factors in selecting a vacation destination. In ourDigital Footprints report series, which provides insights about online traveler trends across 14 markets, we found that 68% travelers in the North American region and 74% in France looked to travel blogs, vloggers or influencers for inspiration or information when planning a vacation or trip away.
With social media taking an increasing hold on society and smartphones usurping laptops as the primary travel research tool, travel companies must think mobile-first throughout the user experience. For example, travel companies are eyeing platforms like Facebook Messenger to develop chatbots that can provide simple answers to FAQs. London Gatwick Airport, Aeromexico and SITA are using chatbots for baggage, Malaysia Airlines and WestJet for bookings, and Marriott for tours and activities.
Super apps are next in line
The rise of mobile has also led travelers to juggle with many apps for airlines, travel agencies and hotels that provide a rich source of travel content. The challenge is how to combine relevant travel content from multiple sources, so it can be used by both travel vendors and travelers alike.
This is where the concept of super apps comes in. It is a single app that includes multiple apps. This one-stop-shop can give travelers the ability to book, make changes, upgrade, get an itinerary, claim expenses, connect to social media, shop, order food or taxis and more. For corporations, travel managers can get a complete view of their customer’s behavior and additional ancillaries booked through the app, while easily enforcing their travel policy through push notifications.
“There is a big opportunity for travel sellers to offer a super-app style solution that brings together the relevant information, content sources and tools in one place. This includes anything from reassuring travelers with trustworthy transfer options pre-trip, to top sights to kill off a couple of hours before flying back, to flight compensation options when things can go wrong post-trip.” -Michael Bayle, Vice President, Retail Customer & Traveler Solutions
As consumers get comfortable with the use of their personal data, travel companies can dole out content that is better targeted, more personalized and localized. For example, PhocusWright finds that 45% of US travelers say they do not mind the collection of personal data for better offers; 52% would prefer options customized for their own preferences and travel habits. WeChat has been pioneering the super-app concept for years in China and other key Asian companies, including Line, KakaoTalk, Grab and Go-Jek are expanding their functionality by the day based on user data. They’ve added food delivery, media, payments and travel, targeting business travelers to their apps. Similarly, western tech giants are getting in on the act, integrating Facebook Messenger, Google Maps and more to further personalize travel.
“Mobile offers the perfect platform to personalize the experience and boost engagement with travelers. With super-apps and relevant push notifications, app inbox or even email, travel sellers can increase confidence, trust and loyalty with their travelers. Going forward, we can expect mobile content and apps to develop even further as 5G networks and devices become more prevalent.” -Michael Bayle, Vice President, Retail Customer & Traveler Solutions
Click here to know more about how technology is changing travel and about Amadeus’ travel trends for 2020.