In a guest post by Cat Hai Chiem, a business development manager at Eurail.com, he outlines some digital marketing and tourism trends

Many trends in tourism were discussed at the recent ITB Berlin event, but there was a strong focus on what is going on in tourism marketing. Specifically two major marketing trends were identified:

1. Video marketing

If there’s one common denominator that applies to all tourists, it is this: they take pictures and like to share their memories with friends and family via social media.

What emerged at ITB is that video marketing has been trending for some time, but the use of it is increasing because consumers prefer to experience content visually rather than having to plough through text.

National Geographic is one company that has mastered the art of storytelling using video, and has managed to engage an incredible 350 million fans on social media as a result. 

In fact, today National Geographic is the number one non-celebrity brand on Instagram, with over 102 million followers. Key to their social media success has been video marketing.

However, for companies in the tourist industry to actually engage with an audience via social media takes time and effort!

2. Live sessions on social media platforms

Using live sessions on social media is also becoming increasingly popular, resulting in higher levels of engagement. The lesson here is that it must be authentic. In fact, being real is even more important than technical perfection. Live sessions are also a successful way to give consumers instant real-time feedback, which helps to create a valuable connection between the company and consumers.

3. China rising  

Another takeaway from ITB was that China is the tourism market of the future. With 90 million people expected to travel from China in 2017, 10 million will visit Europe. As Eurail.com’s CEO Brenda van Leeuwen, who will be speaking at EyeforTravel Europe in June, said in an interview last year: “Of those, 2.6 million fall into what can be referred to as ‘free independent travellers’, a key target segment for Eurail, and one that is expected to grow.”

Like many other companies, Eurail wants a slice of this pie and is looking at ways to adapt their online strategies to Chinese channels like Weibo and WeChat. While these tools typically focus on the initial part of the customer journey (information, booking and payment), other companies go a step further. Some European organisations, for example VisitHelsinki, are introducing Alipay, that allow Chinese tourists to pay without cash.

Check out EyeforTravel’s latest Death of Cash in Travel white paper.

Similarly, the Chinese travel industry is looking to western markets for their products and services. An example is that Ctrip, one of China’s largest travel platforms, which is using influencer marketing and has learnt that there are three different and distinct tiers to understand.

  • Direct networks namely a consumer’s family or close friends
  • Opinion leaders within the travel industry
  • Vertical influencers, namely people that the target audience aspire to, such as celebrities or people with a substantial online presence 

According to Ctrip, when tapping into these influencers, it’s crucial that the content is of a high quality and is shared across multiple channels.

Trends come and go and can be a costly business. The low hanging fruit for most travel companies is to adopt new strategies, by making use of existing technologies.

Do’s and don’ts

  • Don’t rely on advertising strategies alone if you are using social media channels to wield marketing influence
  • Do look to new ways of engagement with your customers via these channels.
  • Don’t ignore new strategies for influencer marketing, which is still relevant,
  • Do keep an eye on the Chinese market and it’s important players. Look more deeply into the potential of these markets, and keep an eye on new strategies and technologies that we, as an industry, can learn from.

Want to hear more about the emerging landscape for rail? Join at EyeforTravel Europe (June 4, 5 and 6) to hear more from companies that include Eurail.com, Eurostar, Rome2Rio, RailEurope and more

EyeforTravel Europe 2018

June 2018, London

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