Using mobile apps and curated content, travel brands are fostering relationships with millennial consumers that they hope will propel 2015 holiday travel.
With the winter holiday travel season approaching, countless brands in the industry are looking for ways to entice travelers to their services. Differentiation is rapidly becoming the key strategy travel brands employ to break away from the pack and gain prestige and loyalty.
Many travel brands are turning to mobile and social engagement to drive interest among a growing group: millennial travelers. As reported by HotelNewsNow, millennials are rapidly becoming one of the strongest segments in the travel industry. Right now, those aged 15 to 29 represent 23% of international travelers, and by 2017 they are expected to outspend baby boomers on hotels.
In order to reach them, holiday travel brands are rethinking their approach to communicating value. Using mobile apps and curated emotional stories delivered through both brand-made and user-generated content, brands are creating touchpoints that build relationships with millennial consumers.
Travel by Peer Review
One of the most pivotal strategies for reaching millennial travel audiences is to encourage and share user generated content (UGC). Speaking on the subject during a round-table webinar with Annalect, VICE Magazine’s chief strategy officer Spencer Baim commented that UGC resonates because it can deliver content that is “truly interesting, different and with a unique point of view.” Annalect’s Yvonne Cantrowitz agreed, noting that UGC lends the needed air of authenticity, which can become “a very difficult point, especially the larger you get.”
This push towards peer-created content has allowed travel brands to be a part of the conversation surrounding the experiences they offer, not just an outsider. UGC lets companies comprehend their brand “as our customers experience them,” in the words of Wyndham’s Monique Misrahi. “Using the content on our sites lets the customer be a part of telling the brand story,” she continues, “visually integrating their experiences into our digital landscape.”
Catherine Pratt, whose company Rivet Works helps create UGC platforms for brands, stresses that UGC can even be transportative, allowing “marketers to appeal to travelers as if they are guests already undergoing a brand experience.” Seamlessly blending your branded offerings with the transcendental potential of a destination experience influences consumers “by making your brand part of their travel plans.” It also strengthens the level of perceived authenticity while fostering a small amount of the brand loyalty that seems so elusive in millennial audiences these days.
Other Brands Getting On Board with Mobile Travel
Platforms like Instagram are leading the way for mobile-centric, travel-focused UGC, but plenty of other industries and media companies are plugging into the potential that mobile apps have for leveraging millennial enthusiasm. The app Lounger promises to deliver Tinder matchmaking for meeting new friends or potential love interests while waiting at the terminal. Other brands like GetMyBoat offer sharing economy convenience for acquiring outdoor equipment such as kayaks and mountain bikes during travels.
Finally, hotel chains such as Hilton are using branded mobile apps to streamline hotel booking and check-ins, something younger travelers are demanding. These developments represent a dramatic shift in the way holiday travel companies approach marketing in an increasingly digital and mobile-focused world.