After two years of pandemic-related impact on the tourism industry, it’s apparent that the industry has changed. In many areas, though. Most importantly, travel providers need to continue adapting their digital destination marketing efforts and pivoting to virtual events – quickly!
How does this affect the tourism industry? For one, travellers demand more flexibility and transparency. By simply offering online booking opportunities, you won’t convince travellers anymore – you must stand out. Companies failing to draw attention online will be left behind.
While travel recovery looks promising as we move ahead in 2022, if there’s anything we can anticipate at the start of a new travel season, it’s the ever-changing landscape of online travel marketing. What are current tourism marketing trends? Will knowing what tactics to apply and which trends to watch help your business grow? Without a doubt!
1. Transparent and flexible online booking system: a must
With people spending more time on their mobile devices than ever, online booking will continue to skyrocket. If you still haven’t set up an online booking system, it may be more challenging to convince travellers to choose you. Today’s travellers have grown to expect the advantage and convenience the world-wide-web brings – from researching trips to booking online. As more travellers choose to book online, a web presence is needed for you as a tourism service provider. This will result in a better online positioning, fit to attract buyers that follow through.
Based on research done by Booking.com in 2022, 64% of travellers agree that technology will be more important than ever while on vacation. To boot, this year we’ll see travellers embracing the unexpected, with many relying on technology to do so. This relates to personal well-being too. Research shows 63% of travellers believe technology is important for controlling health risks when travelling, with 62% agreeing that technology helps to alleviate their travel anxiety. Technology and travel go hand in hand.
There’s more: people (69%) would be interested in an innovative service that predicts which countries are safe to visit, even months in advance. A smaller percentage (67%) is eager to use a tool that auto-suggests destinations that are easy to travel to now, based on current COVID-19 requirements in-home and destination-country.
2. Excellent storytelling on social media
Travellers can sense when something isn’t authentic, especially in the hyper-connected world we’re living in. Let’s be honest; perfectly edited user photos, reviews and hashtags have a huge impact on the travel planning process. To book or not to book – great reviews can make the difference.
Before making decisions, travellers tend to take a multi-touch approach to ensure their vacation experience is 100% as advertised. In fact, 79% of people participating in the study of Crowdriff say user-generated content (UGC) has greatly affected their decisions.
But how can you use this to your advantage? For starters, you should utilise your UGC and repost it on your social media channels. Encourage travellers to use your #hashtags and tag you in their posts. Other examples are restaurants encouraging customers to upload images to their website, hotels or attractions providing a digital photo booth at their location (automatically adding branding or relevant hashtag to every photo and post) and brands holding contests on social media to create user-generated content. In fact, some of the most engaging online travel marketing content is quite simple — answering frequently asked questions and helping online visitors feel seen and heard.
3. Video is the new queen bee
“Consumers, on average, spend about 323 minutes per week watching video content, and that is on mobile phones alone.”
In the travel industry, videos have long been a powerful marketing tool. They show off destinations and hospitality businesses in their full glory. In 2022, we strongly encourage travel marketers to develop in the area of video creation — and that doesn’t mean you need to invest in big-budget productions. Again, Do-It-Yourself videos appeal to travellers looking for an authentic, unfiltered view of the destinations they’re researching. The time for perfectly edited videos is long gone – travellers nowadays are more inclined to watch videos showing authentic, real and believable experiences.
4. TikTok: a game-changer
Follow up closely with videos as the new queen bee of digital marketing channels, TikTok, is here to stay. This social media platform is one marketers need to look at. With over 2 billion downloads and over 1 billion monthly active users, travel marketers now have a unique opportunity to make themselves stand out with travel-related videos on TikTok. To boot, the platform’s video tours, and video stories have the potential to make you go viral. A great advantage is you can repurpose your Instagram reel videos on TikTok!
Meanwhile, here are a few TikTok video tips to help you get started on your travel video marketing journey:
- Use relevant TikTok hashtags the same way you would on Instagram. This will help you show up in feeds for those using the search feature.
- Add your location to your profile! Geo-location is an important factor in the TikTok algorithm – this is especially helpful for travel businesses, as it means your geo-tagged post will show up for relevant searches and help you get more views.
- There are 2 types of videos you may find on TikTok: trending videos and original content. You make trending content by copying an existing video concept and adding your own twist to it. Trending content usually revolves around a specific piece of music or audio.
The TikTok travel marketing tips above are interesting for you, as it suggests viewers want to see locations and places in a new way, from different perspectives. Travel businesses can create TikTok tours giving a sneak peek of what the travel experience will be like.
You might wonder whether it’s worth adding content to your website in the form of a blog post. In fact, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) increase costs to operators, which makes it even more important to brand your business. Tourism branding strengthens your website and leads to doubling down on marketing.
Investing in blogging is one of the best manners to help drive direct bookings and take back control over profits, booking cancellations and refunds.
A blog is a perfect opportunity to speak directly to your audience, establish yourself as a destination expert and lead more visitors to your website — not to mention the added perk of boosting your SEO (search engine optimisation). Also, blogs you create are your own content, published on your own website – this lasts a long time online.
Here’s how blogging helps with your SEO:
- Google favours new content, plus it keeps your website fresh and current.
- It increases the average time people spend on your website, which Google rewards with a higher ranking.
- Target long-tail keywords that are easy to rank high on. For example, hot-air balloon tour Cappadocia.
- Link to other pages on your website to create a powerful web of internal links. This helps Google understand the relation to pages and visitors will stay longer on your website – win-win!
6. Local SEO
Being found online is vital. As more tour operators focus on encouraging locals to go on stay-cations – trips close to home, domestic travel – SEO is a perfect way of targeting the audience you look to attract.
Think of how local tourism centres promote community experiences and the value of exploring what’s close to home. Plus, another advantage of improving local SEO is an increase in direct bookings. Developing your SEO strategy involves a mix of keywords research, geography-specific search terms, niching on your activity and being consistent with fresh, relevant content.