Gone are the days when you had one vacation a year, loaded the kids into the station wagon and hit the open road with nothing but a road map and the cooler. Consumers today have options. They plan for hours online before they hit the road, coordinating hotel rooms and dining reservations with one click.
Although most use online tools to plan a trip, not all travelers are created equally. Here at L&S, our years of experience in tourism marketing have revealed that the key to success is to treat travel niches differently. As these segments evolve, it is our job to recognize them and change right along with them. Let’s look at five travel niches trending now:
1. Peer-to-Peer Bookers: Travelers who book through Airbnb, Homeaway, Onefinestay or Flipkey are often seeking an authentic, peer-to-peer experience. According to Hotel News Now, 39% of travelers expressed interest in staying in a vacation home rental as an alternative to a hotel/resort, while 23% actually have done so in the past two years. It’s projected that industry leader Airbnb doubled its room nights from 40 million to 80 million from 2014 to 2015. Whether the hotel industry likes it or not, this group is growing.
Travelers today are interested in making memories, getting out of their comfort zone and sharing time with family and friends. Led by Millennials, peer-to-peer travelers seek connections with new friendships. They want to know the “local” hangouts so they can experience an authentic vacation.
So how can we get peer-to-peer bookers to click? Find ways to connect with them through local expert blog posts or content marketing. Along with that, offer options such as private, customizable tours rather than cookie-cutter bus excursions. CVBs should have a list of local favorites readily available, and if you’re a hotel lucky enough to board this traveler, make sure your staff is well versed on local dining hotspots.
2. Mobile Trendsetters: We can’t talk about 2016 without talking about mobile. Mobile trendsetters are making smartphones an essential travel piece - maybe even THEE essential travel piece. Travelers want answers at their fingertips throughout their journey. Mobile hotel queries are up 49% year-over-year according to Google, so it’smore vital than ever to make your brand available.
Like the peer-to-peer booker, mobile trendsetters are led by Millennials (age 20-35) and Centennials (19 and under). The travel industry needs to be ready to address this group with an increasing disposable income and need for instant gratification.
What makes the mobile trendsetter click? A lot. In fact, they are more likely to release sensitive information to marketers and publishers in order to improve user experiences and the convenience factor of a connected environment. According to Google, 64% of users are watching YouTube videos when thinking about taking a trip, so make sure your content is available there. Traditional media needs to align with your mobile message as well as consumers grab their smartphone after seeing a commercial or billboard.
3. The Boomer Traveler:Baby Boomers (Age 50-69) are active travelers, averaging four to five trips per year. According to AARP, 55% will stay in the US for every trip. Their motivation for travel is to get away from the norm, spend time with family and friends, relax and rejuvenate.
Boomer travelers are the most lucrative generation in America, controlling almost 70% of the nation’s disposable income according to Contently. Now kid-free for the first time in their adult lives, many are still leading highly active lifestyles.
One common trip for baby boomers is a Bucket List trip, which might include an adventure or dream destination they’ve been pondering since the kids were little. Another is the weekend getaway. These ‘Seekenders’ want weekend activities like beaches, museums, shows, wineries, casinos or hiking trails to deviate from daily routines. Empty-nesters don’t always travel alone though. Multi-generational trips are becoming more popular as the whole family travels together on the grandparents’ dime.
What makes the boomer traveler click? One thing is certain; don’t call them “old.” Even a 60-year-old wants to live it up and feel young at heart. Tailor your messaging for the spry senior, keeping it clear and concise. Remember they are savvy on social media but may be less trusting of releasing personal information online.
4. The Bleisure Travelers: Business travelers who often add a few extra days before or after a business trip to enjoy leisure activities are called bleisure travelers. According to a 2015 trend report published by SKIFT, 82% of business travelers said they use free time on a business trip to explore and experience the city they are in. As work travel turns into a lifestyle for some, these travelers are bringing family along for sightseeing, dining and art/culture.
These days, bleisure travel is often the only way many young working professionals are able to vacation. In fact, those in their 20s are a key demographic blurring the lines between work and leisure. The SKIFT report goes on to say that 94% of younger travelers are “more than” or “equally” likely to take a bleisure trip in the next five years.
What makes the bleisure traveler click? Recognizing that the workday doesn’t end at 5:00, the savvy marketer will capitalize on this with products and services that help them manage their muddled lifestyles such as loyalty programs, easy mobile check-in or reservation options, onsite spa packages or a concierge to help conserve limited free time.
5. The Travel Savvy Mom: Although I have experienced vacations within each of these segments, none is more prevalent in my life right now than the travel savvy mom. The station wagon has evolved into a souped-up minivan with HDMI outlets and Bluetooth speakers. Families today still long for the ultimate family vacation, and moms are the primary planners. We research trips extensively and tend to take three to six months to plan a trip while looking for discounts and coupons. Along with that, we read blogs about anything from how to survive a road trip with toddlers to getting Fast Passes at Disney.
What makes the travel savvy mom click? Moms are busy, so easy online booking is important. Remarketing campaigns can remind us of relevant attractions and deals between diapers and school drop offs. Having a strong blog and good referrals is also important. Offer promotions geared towards families, and make the benefits of traveling with children prominent.
Regardless of whether your audience fits these travel niches or not, each one brings a unique set of opportunities for marketers. The most important thing is to define YOUR audience and find unique offerings for them.