The travel and tourism industry is booming: According to a Statista report, the industry is credited with having contributed $ 7.61 trillion to the global economy in 2016 alone; $ 2.3 trillion comes directly from the sector itself.
Globally, the industry has also been positively affected by technological developments and changes in people’s behavior patterns. Unlike just a few years ago, flights and hotels can now be booked online; people can search online reviews on their mobile phones; and, thanks to Airbnb, people can save money and meet new people by staying in a stranger’s house while traveling.
All these changes mean that keeping up with this rapidly evolving industry can be a herculean task. Entrepreneurs who once might have chosen to go into this sector, may now shy away, thinking the challenges they face mean a losing battle.
However, success in travel and tourism is still a real possiblity; fear of failure shouldn’t hold entrepreneurs back. As blogger Anthony Boldin wrote in his Feed Your Mind blog, “Failure is inevitable in all aspects of life, and entrepreneurship is no exception. The fear of failure makes many potential entrepreneurs sit and wait for the better times — that will never come.”
Continues Boldin: “Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new ideas. You need them to move your startup to the next level.”
That said, here are four intriguing things to know about the evolving face of the mammoth, multi-faceted travel and tourism industry.
1. Social proof puts the power squarely in the hands of your customers.
When looking for the best travel destinations and travel company offers, people can use a simple Google search, check out review sites like TripAdvisor or seek inspiration from social-sharing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.
In fact, 89 percent of millenials will base their travel plans off a friend’s post on social media – and 97 percent of millenials share videos and pictures of their travel experiences on their social media. This social-media “amplifier” strategy is called social proof and it has a way of creating a ripple effect of value for current and intending customers.
Brian Cliette, an instructor of hospitality management at The Pennsylvania State University, and a digital marketing consultant for several Silicon Valley startups, has called social proof “the direct representation of a brand’s trust value.” Writing on LinkedIn in 2016, Cliette noted that when a customer posts a positive video of his or her experience, say, ordering room service on a busy night, “The video posted counts as social proof marketing, or a personal endorsement of your service by an actual human being.”
According to Nielson, 92 percent of people surveyed said they trust recommendations from their peers, while 70 percent said they were willing to go with recommendations from people they do not know.
2. Today’s industry offers “experiences,” not just services.
Today’s travelers don’t want to travel to foreign and exotic locations just for the sake of saying they’ve done it. They want rejuvenation, a sense of fulfillment and an opportunity to learn new skills and experience new cultures. They want to sample local cuisines, have an adventure, make a social impact and make new friends.
Creating unforgettable memories — and capturing them on camera — is much more important to today’s traveler than collecting souvenirs. In fact, customers who can afford it have no problem paying a premium fee to experience moments that they will never forget.
No surprise, then, that Airbnb’s CEO announced last year that the company plans to branch into organized events and tours and thereby create “experiences” for customers in cities worldwide. Through these trips, guests, for instance, could spend a day with a reality TV executive, sign up for “Life-Changing Music” or work in an impoverished community.
Travel agencies and tour operators, therefore, should be on their toes to design an all-inclusive package incorporating the best of everything that aligns with the desires of their most adventurous customers.
3. “Over-tourism” is a real problem.
With tourist numbers soaring rapidly, a good number of tourism hot spots are showing signs of social, infrastructural and experiential decline. Destinations that were once praised for their serene atmosphere are now becoming characterized by overcrowded beaches, long lines and unruly tourists.
It makes sense, therefore, for both current and new entrants into the industry to take measures to control tourist influx. These could include pre-booking with fixed numbers, cutting down beds-per-night capacity, the imposition of entry fees and restrictions on and greater awareness of less well-known areas.
Amsterdam, the popular capital of the Netherlands, for instance, attracts more than 14 million visitors every year. To solve the city’s over-tourism problem, tourism chief Geerte Udo and his team had to devise a means to subtly move people away from the very popular places.
They did this by, for example, rebranding coastal resort Zandvoort, located 18 miles from the city center; they renamed it Amsterdam Beach and provided public transport there, signaling that it can be reached easily. They also designed an app, “Discover the City.” to send notification warnings when a particular place is busier than normal, and to suggest alternatives.
4. Tele-tourism more and more is becoming a thing.
Tele-tourism has emerged to enable travel for those who for some reason do not have the physical capacity to do make it happen. Fulvio Dominici, the CEO of Ubiatar, has described the experience in an article on Ubiatar. And Henry Evans, who is physically challenged, spoke at a TEDx gathering about how tele-presence technology has helped him expand his otherwise small and confined world, helping him to travel the world in real time — a feat normally impossible for someone with his level of disability.
Overall, it’s a good idea to integrate these developments in travel and tourism into your own marketing strategy and broaden your scope of who your ideal customer might be. That way, people who have never heard of your locale, and even the severely disabled and frail elderly, may one day take advantage of your services.