Understanding the driving forces behind the connected consumer.
It's time to think differently. Today's consumers are harnessing technology to reinvent themselves, their lives and their communities. They are changing the existing value system. Connected Consumers embrace freedom, acceleration and intimacy. Are you ready? The future is now.
The connected traveler of the future will expect more interactivity across all channels and a tailored, personal experience when they book a trip. They will be open to sharing personal information within reason and they will embrace the new virtual reality travel experience. But what more could the travel industry offer? We look at key industry trends, consider the challenges and imagine what the world of travel could look like in the future.
The digital revolution has created price-focused customers who are comfortable researching online on multiple platforms. It’s no surprise that new non-traditional players have gained market share.
Mobile, wearables and augmented reality offer important opportunities to connect with travelers. For those willing to develop apps for the new platforms, the rewards could be considerable.
Price will always be a primary consideration for many travelers. But there are other key drivers. Tracking of customer behavior and gathering intelligence on customers will facilitate differentiation of offering – where, for example, an eco-hotel could target environmentally-minded travelers.
Marketers will be able to connect with travelers in a timely manner on their preferred platform, perhaps offering value added, personalized services – such as in-destination solutions – for a premium. Alternatively, and at the very least, marketers could use this approach to strengthen customer relationships and to build brand loyalty.
One key question is this: Why would the traveler of the future be willing to share personal information, even about their health, in return for ease of travel, more choices and greater security? Does the connected consumer of the future want to draw closer to travel brands, or keep them at arm’s length?
Most people are happy to share information if there is something in it for them. For example, a traveler could be alerted about a nearby jazz festival if he has shared the information that he enjoys jazz. And biometric passports could prove popular if they promise to put an end to those long queues at passport security.
Seamless travel and a better booking experience for customers is only possible if different players in the travel agency work together. Strategic alliances and partnerships will be important in the future with the use of shared booking platforms and even the sharing of information about customer preferences.
More than one quarter of travelers start their research for their trip or holiday by consulting social media and value the opinion of other travelers. As more people become “connected consumers”, the impact of social media on booking decisions will increase. Social media platforms could become a fierce battleground as companies compete for attention and try to encourage customers to visit their own domains. Customers with significant influence on social media could even use this to negotiate travel discounts or other benefits, with the value of their recommendations recognized by marketers.
In summary, the travelers of the future will have different expectations to the travelers of today. They will expect to preview their trip in the virtual world before they take it in reality. They will expect ease of booking and a seamless journey. While on their trip, they’ll want timely reminders and relevant recommendations on their preferred platforms. They will for the most part feel comfortable sharing personal information such as their likes and dislikes, their location and even health information if it will make traveling easier and more enjoyable. While they will still be price focused, many will be prepared to pay for convenience, for unique experiences and for add-on luxuries.
Only by understanding and predicting future customer behavior can the travel industry keep up with new developments and make the most of opportunities. We are in a unique position to spot key trends as they emerge, using live booking data to track performance on a daily basis. Our travel team continues to provide valuable insights based on this data and on large-scale studies. These key insights could make the difference between winning and losing in the increasingly competitive travel marketplace.
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As technology and social media disrupt the traditional marketplace, and the new traveler mixes business with pleasure, companies must adapt to survive and transform to thrive. We look at the challenges facing the industry and outline the seven key factors for success.
The rise of mobile technology and social media has turned the travel industry upside down. And as we move into the era of the connected consumer, the rules are about to change again. A customer can now research the family holiday on their smartphone, show their partner the shortlist of options on a tablet and book the holiday on a PC at work in their lunch hour. And the behavior of the corporate traveler is also far less predictable. So what must players in the travel industry do to survive in this fast-changing, highly connected and technology driven marketplace?
1. Understand customers’ needs and tailor services accordingly
Today’s traveler accesses information and services via mobile technology as never before. The travel companies that will succeed will offer compelling personalized products in an accessible way, taking service to the next level and rewarding customers with meaningful tailored rewards, not just with upgrades or discounts.
2. Embrace augmented reality opportunities
Augmented reality as a marketing platform reaches and engages customers in a new way. It is also a conduit for offering personalized services to travelers – for example, they could be sent an app that helps them to navigate a new city by recommending the best attractions, or that provides them with the best route out of an unfamiliar airport. New technologies provide new ways to connect with consumers, and the smart travel company of the future will make the most of these opportunities to make life easy for their customers and add value.
3. Engage with social media
Travelers are now “connected consumers” and they expect to interact via social media platforms across multiple devices. Social media is an opportunity to enhance relationships and connect with customers by creating a two-way dialogue. It is vital to have a social media strategy, to invest in content creation and management, and to ensure that both social media policy and protocol are adhered to.
4. Develop apps for new technology such as wearables
The global sales of wearable devices are expected to increase from 31 million in 2014 to 114 million in 2016. As wearable devices such as smartwatches become the norm, so increasingly customers will expect to engage with travel services using them.
5. Build stronger relationships with customers
Gaining loyalty is a greater challenge than ever before. However, there is an opportunity to create and build stronger relationships with price-focused customers by offering convenient, personalized services and add-on premium services. Social media is another route to customer engagement and to building loyalty with the consumer of the future.
6. Forge smart alliances and partnerships
The penetration of social media is rising and continues to rise worldwide. As new opportunities arise in growing markets, and customers expect a “seamless journey”, strong partnerships and strategic alliances could make the difference between success and failure.
7. Understand key market trends in order to grow market share
In the ever competitive marketplace, growing market share is essential to survival. Important trends and changes in customer behavior can be identified through the analysis of real-time big data across multiple platforms. The winners in the digital world will be those companies that gain these key insights and turn them into the best strategic decisions.
Let us know what you think! Please share your thoughts or email me at email@example.com.
Young shoppers are open to sharing personal information in return for a tailored, personalized retail experience. It is now possible to engage with and gather data from customers via their mobiles, tablets and smart watches – from when they book right through to when they check in at the hotel. How can the industry make the most of the new opportunities, while reassuring customers about the security of their data?
In our 2015 Young Shopper Study, we surveyed more than seven thousand 18 to 21 year olds in ten markets about all aspects of the shopping experience including their preferences and expectations for the future. The survey revealed that the shopper of the future expects an omnichannel shopping experience.
This reflects the latest research in the travel industry, where consumers are using multiple devices.
Sales of wearable devices such as smart watches and fitness trackers are predicted to reach $114 million worldwide in 2016. Our Young Shopper Survey predicts a continued appetite for personalization amongst the connected consumer and a willingness to embrace technologies such as wearables if that means easier, more tailored shopping or traveling.
Furthermore, young shoppers are willing to trade their personal information where they see a direct benefit to them. For example, the survey revealed that 49% of 16-21 year olds in Brazil want to buy products unique to them, and 51% want the store to “talk” to their mobile phone to tell them about products that match their needs.
This is the time for marketers to think big, be creative and respond to the trends identified through real-time analysis of big data. For example, six out of ten travelers are now more likely to mix leisure and business trips than five years ago, leading to the emergence and identification of a new market called “bleisure”. The most popular activities in “bleisure” trips are sightseeing, dining and arts and culture. And while corporate and leisure travelers were previously distinct from one another, having different needs, this new type of traveler requires a more personalized service.
By understanding customers’ lifestyles and what they value most, personalized and timely communication is possible. This is intelligent marketing, which far outperforms the old style “scattergun” approach of sending one message to everybody.
While personalization builds relationships with customers and allows a more tailored and convenient service, it cannot be taken too far. There is a “tipping point” for consumers at which they feel that brands are getting “too personal”. Brands should not make the mistake of thinking that in the generation of the connected consumer they have a license to change the terms of their relationship with consumers so that it is always set to “on”. Of the people we surveyed, 90% said they would prefer to buy from companies that respect their privacy and 86% would like more control of how their data is used.
This is an exciting time for the travel industry, an unprecedented opportunity to walk alongside customers, informing them, engaging them and entertaining them at every stage of their journey. Offering tailored services to customers, informed by best insights gained through real-time big data analytics could make the difference between success and failure in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But it must be done with respect for personal privacy.
Share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smart home, online video consumption, mobile payments and drones – check out the recording and slides from our Tech Trends 2016 webinar. We present our insights and analysis to help you better understand which emerging trends will have the greatest impact on consumer needs and behavior.
To help you prepare for future consumer demand, we have chosen the ten key Tech Trends we believe will have the most impact on consumer needs and behavior in 2016 and beyond.
Virtual reality and augmented reality could be game changers for the travel industry. They offer many opportunities to connect with and excite travelers, using new and engaging promotions and advertising – and even immersive travel experiences in-store. Can the travel industry take it to the next level?
Augmented reality, also know as AR, is the merging of virtual reality and real life, as such it offers a new dimension for the connected consumer. Developers create images within applications that blend with content in the real world. With AR, users can distinguish between the created images and the real world content. Virtual reality, also known as VR, creates a completely virtual world (often using a VR helmet or goggles) in which users can immerse themselves and interact with their virtual surroundings. With good VR, users find it difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what is not.
A famous example of an augmented reality campaign is the ‘Unbelievable Bus Shelter’ created by Pepsi Max in London. The bus stop window was a hyper-realistic screen that created the illusion of a tiger approaching, a meteor crashing, or an alien tentacle attacking people. The people in the bus shelter soon realized it was a stunt and found it amusing.
Such an attention grabbing approach could work well for the travel industry, where connected consumers often take a trip in their imaginations long before they begin the process of researching and booking a holiday.
Augmented reality billboards can engage and entertain customers in a way conventional billboards cannot. While AR and VR still have novelty value, they promise to be a practical way of helping customers to make decisions and visualize their purchases more clearly – for example with virtual reality changing rooms.
In his recent article in July 2015’s “Marketing Week”, Thomas Hobbs examined how AR and VR technology is already making a significant impact within the UK travel industry. TUI is making interactive world maps and iPads available to customers, while installing large immersive digital video walls in their high street shops to showcase holidays. Thomas Cook has pioneered VR headsets in their largest London store and, according to Chief Digital Officer Marco Ryan, one in ten customers who tried the headsets went on to book holidays there and then.
AR and VR are already becoming an important part of the tailored and personalized shopping experience, and personalization, according to GfK’s recent ‘Shopper of the Future Survey’, very much appeals to 18-21 year olds.
Combining AR with wearables and personalization engages the consumer, both online and inside or close to retail spaces. Today and tomorrow, these techniques offer new ways to appeal to connected consumers both visually and emotionally. A customer can be alerted via their Google Glass or smart watch about a deal in a local travel agency, or reminded via an interactive billboard of the attractions of a tourist destination.
The challenge lies in getting the balance right between respecting people’s privacy and tolerance for messages, while providing them with information that could directly benefit them.
The opportunities that AR and VR provide the travel industry are immense. Such technologies are evolving into a relevant way of marketing to a new generation of consumers who are easily bored and comfortable interacting within virtual worlds. For the connected consumers of tomorrow, such techniques, that transport them virtually to other destinations and new experiences, will no doubt be a welcome innovation.
With the rise of wearable technology, and with ever improving technology offering new and exciting ways to showcase and promote the travel experience, the travel industry will be able to interact with and attract potential customers as never before.
Moving with the times and embracing the possibilities offered by AR and VR could be an exciting trip. However, the most important journey of all is one of understanding. Informed by high quality insights into the behavior of customers, travel companies can optimize their campaigns and increase their return on investment.
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or email me at email@example.com.
It’s time to think differently. Today’s consumers are harnessing technology to reinvent themselves, their lives and their communities. They are changing the existing value system. Connected Consumers embrace freedom, acceleration and intimacy.
It’s hard for you to identify the technology trends that will really matter to your business?
In our free webinar recording, our experts presented four of our chosen ‘Tech Trends’ for 2016.
Our insights help L’Oréal in Mexico to craft better marcomms strategies for the millennial generation.
GfK research helps a global travel group understand the purchasing behavior of holidaymakers and sharpen the effectiveness of its marketing and sales forecasting.