Recently, Stackla released a data report that revealed to us what the real influences on the travel booking cycle are. Are you going about your marketing all wrong? Hopefully, this will help you to determine what areas of your travel marketing need to be looked at.

No one can deny the effects that the digital age has on every aspect of travel and organisations are continuously having to change and update in order to keep up with competitors.

When it comes to the consumer booking their next holiday, the traveller makes sure to research online, but what does this research actually entail? No longer is it just a Google Search and see what the best places to travel are. Travellers are seeking authenticity more than anything. From the Stackla data report, we see that 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which are the brands that they like and support. This is just as relevant to the travel industry – consumers are looking for authentic social proof more for their inspiration and validation. The data report reveals that user-generated content is 1.8x more likely to make people interested in travelling to a specific destination than influencer photos.

So just when you were thinking that using stock images was a good idea, unfortunately, that is not what your potential consumers are looking for. Consumers (86%) clearly stated that seeing photos posted by friends or family on social media sparked their interest in travelling to a particular destination.

Getting genuine reviews and images of travel and hospitality experiences make a significant impact on travellers as well. Instead of sounding like a broken record telling consumers that your destination is the best, rather show them the real people who are having authentic experiences. This will prove to be your most powerful form of social proof and overall marketing. Basically, what it boils down to is that people trust real people… it is that simple.

One thing that travel organisations need to take into account is that when the consumer says they want authenticity and social proof, this does not mean necessarily that they are referring to celebrities or influencers. Research shows that only 12% of consumers said they’d reference celebrity or influencer photos when planning travel. Travellers are looking for the ‘real deal’. 38% of people went so far as to say that content from celebrities or social media influencers never impacts which hotel or resort they choose to stay at when travelling.

User-generated content influencing travel decisions is not just a theory, the report shows that they are directly driving bookings. 52% of consumers say that they have made plans to visit a specific destination based on an image or video that they saw from one of their friend or family members on social media. This percentage has grown from 43% in 2017.

There is quite a lot to take in but if you would like to view the full report, click here to download. With all this in mind, there may be a few marketing strategy changes that need to take place in order to reach the full capacity of your booking cycle. The facts are there, all you need to do is use them to your full advantage.


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