Four Trends Showcased at the Arabian Travel Market 2015
Arabian Travel Market is over for another year and, as usual, was jam-packed full of meetings, networking, parties, and seminars. With almost 60 theatres and educational slots, there was plenty of opportunity to receive and share new market intelligence but for those who may have missed it, here are four travel trends to bear in mind.
- Content Is King
It’s not surprising that online was a huge theme but this drilled down even further to the importance of content. Marc Bennett, SVP International Operations of DCTCM (Dubai Corporation Travel & Commerce Marketing), commented:
“Users can generate content for us that agencies can only dream about.”
He is of course, referring to a recent campaign the DCTCM undertook in conjunction with Expedia. Speaking during the Destination Marketing seminar at ATM, Bennett referenced the power of content in positioning the destination and overcoming potentially negative perceptions:
“Hosting the right type of content about what Dubai really is, is very important. We use content to address the issues.”
While content starts a conversation, engagement is what generates awareness. Or in the words of social media expert, Andrew Chow: “Content is king, conversation is queen, engagement is the kingdom.”
- Word-of-Mouth 2.0
It’s rare to attend an industry event these days where social media isn’t a main focus. However, it was only a few years ago when many luxury travel brands were reluctant to use it as a tool. Today, some of the most high-profile organisations have launched campaigns via social media with incredible results. With 35% of all purchasing decisions influenced by social media, increasing to an impressive 53% if the brand is liked or followed (source GALLUP), the industry is well on board. And it seems social media lends itself perfectly to the travel, tourism and hospitality sector as 44.5% use social media for holiday ideas, while 78.3% of users share their holiday experiences (source School of Tourism, University of Bournemouth). Basically, it’s good old-fashioned word-of-mouth 2.0. As one of the most significant trends of our time, it’s perhaps not surprising that DTCM research revealed word-of-mouth to be the only common factor across every single market. With 50% of people more likely to visit Dubai if they know someone in the city, the sharing of positive experiences by visitors can have a significant impact on a destination.
- The Magic of Mobile
The message was clear: as a travel organisation, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, you’re missing out. 75% of travellers used mobile during a trip in 2015 compared to 54% in 2013, according to the VISA Global Travel Intentions Study. This means there’s a huge opportunity for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry to capitalise on travellers seeking to book new experiences. Whether, that’s a meal in a restaurant or a desert safari, travellers are using mobile to search and book. And with mobile now extending to wearable technology, devices such as smartwatches, Google Glass, and Bluetooth clothing, travelling takes on a whole new, connected, dimension.
- The Shift to New Destinations
To round up, the VISA Global Travel Intentions Study, which runs in 25 countries around the world, provided a great insight into global travel trends. Comparing trends in the last two years, there were a couple of surprises. In the list of top 10 destinations people plan to travel to in 2016, Japan claimed second place, knocking the UK to fourth. While the US retained its primary position, Australia and France placed third and fifth respectively. Closer to home, travellers from the Middle East plan to travel to Turkey, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. How does this link to content? According to Ali J. Hashmi, Industry Manager, Travel & Government, Middle East & Africa at Google, 80% of people watch travel content online. This, in turn, will influence travellers’ choices when choosing a destination and the industry will be pushed to produce relative and engaging content.