Why travel brands need to think about the connected traveler

The growth of the online travel market makes it crucial for operators to digitally connect with travelers. Source: Matej Kastelic/Shutterstock

WHILE the travel industry is highly saturated, it’s also highly segregated what with markets continually getting clumped into brackets as new trends emerge.

At the ongoing ITB Asia 2017, Hybrid managing director James Craven and Travel Wire Asia’s regional manager Andrea Schuppien led a panel titled “Influencing Connected Travelers – Social Content Formats and Digital Distribution”.

The scale of Asia Pacific’s online travel market can’t be disputed with a projected growth of 72 percent between 2016 and 2020, with 76 percent of that growth focused in mobile sales.

As a whole, the online travel market will be valued at US$446 billion by 2020, a stunning figure in an industry that’s rapidly shifting.

At the moment, Asia is paving the way for smartphone usage, with Vietnam as frontrunner projecting a 35 to 65 percent forecast growth in smartphone penetration by 2020.

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But it’s not just about targeting smartphone users and digitally connecting travelers.

The way in which brands connect to travelers is just as vital, as illustrated by the Hybrid model and its many successful, highly targeted marketing and advertising campaigns.

“Make content authentic and user-oriented using the adopt, test and learn approach. You need to support overarching brand goals with sustained social media efforts,” Craven said.

“What that really means is thinking about how to reach people through their natural senses.”

To quote Jonathan Perlman, VP of agency strategy at Buzzfeed, Craven said “Content is king but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.”

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On top of that, the connected traveler is blurring the lines between leisure and business – sometimes known as “bleisure” – with disruptors like Airbnb contributing to the shift. “Bleisure” travelers are bound by a common thread – digital connectivity, upwardly mobile, and always on the move.

A case in point is Wyndham who signed on to Hybrid for many successful, highly targeted campaigns. Schuppien, who spearheaded the deal, said, “The Wyndham articles have been viewed over 2.1 million times across social media and digital platforms.”

The editorial was shared across multiple platforms, the biggest being Facebook (8,508 engagements) followed by Twitter (3,170 engagements), and Instagram (1,835 engagements). The brand’s first four articles were read by over 100,000 travelers across the region.

The reason for its success is down to many factors: a destination-specific angle, a narrow focus on experiential travel, evocative descriptors, and trends that affect the readers that Wyndham set out to target in the first place.

“With a combination of engaging and memorable content, clear and smart designs, and a visible social media presence, we have managed to influence connected travelers across the region,” Schuppien said.

For more information on how to reach out to the digitally connected traveler, click here.