Pure360’s travel predictions for 2017 Published December 29, 2016 In this blog we take a look at what the travel sector will be focusing on in 2017, asking: where will the smart marketers be investing their time and money in the year ahead? When an estimated 76% of UK internet users booked holidays digitally in the past 12 months (eMarketer, 2016), there’s no doubt that digital marketing will remain absolutely critical to every travel business’ success. In the forthcoming year we’ll witness how new tactics and technology will help reduce booking times, enhance experiences and reach out to customers in more personalised ways. Here’s a taste of what to expect. Virtual reality In 2017 the travel industry will embrace the use of experiential technology as part of the booking process to tempt the customer. Augmented and virtual reality alongside 360 degree videos of destinations will tease the customer with an experience they want to embrace in reality. In the last year Virgin holidays have already used Google cardboard technology in virtual reality headsets for customers wanting to step into one of their Mexican resorts from the comfort of the high-street. And it would seem that their customers were impressed by the experience. Virgin Holidays reported that sales of the resort featured in the virtual reality promotion rose significantly (Virgin Holidays). Location-based targeting People love sharing their holiday experiences on social media as they happen. The travel industry will be using this insight to send more location-based triggers as travellers not only check into flights and hotels but also locations on Facebook. Marketers will continue to build-up their customer profiles matching social media activity with the information they hold about the customer on their CRM platform. This will give them the opportunity to trigger emails after the customer posts or comments on social media. Automated updates such as ‘You are only steps away from a bargain in Gatwick Terminal Two’ may mean that social and email will be guiding holidaymakers through their holiday. Solutions such as PureIntelligence will enable marketers to join-up their data into one central view meaning they can see exactly how the traveller is using various touch points. More mobile moments Historically customers have been happy to research holidays on mobile but hesitant to book (ABTA, 2014). The industry will continue to push mobile conversion in 2017 with the hotel industry predicting a rise in conversion on mobile from 8% to 35% in 2018 (Phocuswright, 2016). By re-targeting people who have browsed but not booked on mobile, email will provide a vital tool in the battle to increase conversion on the go. Automated emails triggered by behaviours online will re-engage customers, alert them to price changes and availability – increasing the sense of urgency to book. Behavioural targeting software such as PureTargeting will become key in re-engaging and converting mobile browsers. The industry will remain focused on mobile-friendly sites, user-generated content and simplified booking processes in a bid to increase bookings and revenue. The smartphone will continue to be the traveller’s best friend as mobile providers reduce overseas tariffs, allowing them to use navigation, reviews and access to travel apps on the go, abroad. Individual experiences In recent research 43% of travel companies named ‘targeting and personalisation’ as top priorities in their digital strategy (SmartInsights, 2016). This need for a more personalised approach to travel is validated by 85% of respondents across all age groups saying that customised itineraries are far more appealing (American Express, 2016). These tactics are even more important for travel companies focused on a younger audience after a study by American Express stated that 83% of millennials said they would allow travel brands to track their habits in exchange for a better, more individualised experience (American Express, 2016). Software such PureIntelligence can be used to gather this insight and an individual experience can be delivered by tools like PureTargeting which delivers the most relevant information to the customer. So in 2017 customers will benefit from a more personalised, engaging and targeted approach to travel. Email communications will become more integrated and we’ll be able to immerse consumers in their destination before they even leave their front door. We’re excited about the forthcoming year in travel and the role digital has to play in it. If you’d like more information about the developments for the sector then speak to our Account Management Team who can help you future-proof your plans.