Harnessing Gen Z’s Summer Travel Wanderlust

It’s all about marketers inspiring choices, spontaneity and loyalty rewards as the summer approaches

Gen Z Travel AdWeekChadchai Ra-ngubpai/ Getty Images

 

With travel restrictions waning and the summer season beckoning, millennials and Gen Z travelers are thinking beyond the “staycation” ideals and are laying out plans to see various cities, states and even countries in the coming months. As they break out of their shells and begin exploring their options, these consumers are taking a different approach than they did two years ago.

A recent Forbes article highlighted the notion that “travelers want to spend big and go far” in 2022, and 78% of those asked said travel was one of the top activities they missed the most. Travel in 2022 will be significantly higher than in past years: 62% of survey respondents wanted to take two to four trips this year. The piece also emphasized millennials as driving major travel trends, like bucket-list trips to exotic locations such as the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica. Dream destinations are ultimately most desired by millennials and Gen Zers, and two-thirds of those surveyed preferred a once-in-a-lifetime vacation over purchasing a new car.

Gen Z is ready to spend more on travel

Avail’s State of Travel in 2022 survey suggests Gen Zers, rather than millennials, are leading the charge in the return to travel—and furthermore, that 72% of Gen Z respondents plan to invest the same or more in travel this year than pre-pandemic. An equal percentage of Gen Zers say they’re already planning or may splurge on a big trip this year, versus 68% of millennials, 60% of Gen Xers and 51% of baby boomers.

To harness this huge group’s serious case of wanderlust, marketers will have to think differently than they did a few years ago. With the oldest member of Gen Z now being 24 years old, they’re collectively new in the travel category, and 80% say they have “some responsibility” in the trip-planning process—a share that will grow as Gen Z continues to gain spending power.

Until then, marketers can attract these young travelers with better deals and last-minute opportunities that feed their spontaneous natures and buy-now/pay-later types of deals that spread any travel-related financial responsibility over time.

Harnessing the opportunity

The question is, how can performance marketers effectively reach these travelers where they are and at the time when they are ready to click “buy now” for that flight, hotel, rental or car-sharing service?

The key is meeting the consumer on their media of choice, and the younger consumer goes beyond large or well-known travel or home-share sites, reacting more spontaneously based on word-of-mouth recommendations from family, friends, influencers or the best deal that shows up online. So, there is a big opportunity not only for established travel companies, but also for emerging platforms as well.

Social media is a channel that will create interest and excitement for travel, as well as the opportunity to extend marketing offers and deals for younger travelers like Gen Z and Gen Y. A primary resource for Gen Z travelers, TikTok, serves as a hub for finding personal recommendations and things to do in whatever town they’re visiting. Comments like, “Oh, I’ve been there. It’s amazing,” can influence others to give it a try. (Negative comments on any platform have the exact opposite effect and should be monitored closely and addressed immediately.)

Gen Z doesn’t mind booking last-minute trips and activities, which gives marketers the opportunity to push specials and deals when filling up available space. Throw in a free dinner for two at a local restaurant, or a stocked coffee bar on the kitchen counter, and your offer will probably be snatched up quickly by a young traveler that wants to experience the world on a budget.

Meeting them where they are

With Avail reporting that younger generations emerged as the most eager to travel more often than pre-pandemic, it’s time to come up with new and engaging ways to attract these eager consumers.

Be sure to target the ads with deals and discounts on a routine basis and right before the trip and use geotargeting to help travelers book any last-minute, spontaneous activities once they’re on site. Know your audience, come up with your best deal and tip them over the edge.

Luxury Goods Are Becoming as Attainable as Fast Fashion

How marketers are bridging the gap between millennials’ and Gen Z’s love of upscale goods and desire for economy

AdWeekAdweek; Getty Images

Millennials and Gen Z walk a fine line when making decisions between whether to buy affordable, fast fashion options that may not make it through more than a handful of wash cycles, and items that may cost more upfront but last longer and stay out of the world’s landfills.

Environmentally aware and well educated on the value of sustainability, these younger consumers view fashion through a different lens than their predecessors, and marketers have taken notice.

These realities are pushing clothing makers to rethink their manufacturing process, how they go to market, and even reusing and recycling their products, with sustainability top of mind. It’s also encouraging companies to emphasize the pre-buying process and offer try-before-you-buy services to generate less waste.

In a world where acquiring a few different sizes and colors of the same item and discarding what didn’t work is the norm, these smart fashion brands are focused on Coco Chanel’s mantra of “less is always more.”

Blurred lines

For now, it looks like younger consumers are divided into two camps, although the lines are blurring.

The first group enjoys purchasing from retailers like Shein for its low-cost and trendy options, while the second would rather invest a bit more in luxury goods that could last a lifetime (and even become inheritable, heirloom goods for the next generation).
To meet these various needs, some companies are serving up luxury that’s attainable for a wider group of potential customers. Gucci’s experimental Vault ecommerce shop, for example, has the option to buy now, pay later through Affirm, putting bags, accessories and other goods within reach for younger buyers. Through Vault, the company offers a curated selection, an interactive virtual experience and the written assurance that each order is “100% carbon neutral.”

Rent the Runway is another company whose business model aligns well with what younger generations have come to expect from their fashion retailers.

The ecommerce platform allows users to rent, subscribe and buy designer apparel and accessories. And while the company was founded in 2009, long before Gen Z began demanding that the world pay more attention to environmental sustainability, its wide variety of styles appeals to everyone from the high schooler looking for an expensive prom dress to the executive in need of a full suite of professional attire (but who can only be seen in those outfits one or two times at most).

Like Gucci, Rent the Runway appeals to millennials and Gen Z’s desire for high fashion at a price they can afford. It also supports good reuse and recycling of clothing and accessories through a “borrowed” model that platforms like Rebag, The RealReal and thredUp also use to successfully resell items that could otherwise be headed to a landfill. The approach truly exemplifies the “one man’s trash” idiom, and it appears to be working.

Secondhand fashion drives growth
Secondhand fashion is also bringing the younger generations to luxury goods. They’re experiencing it, enjoying it and finding the quality they’re seeking.

As more millennial and Gen Z consumers are introduced to luxury brands, they’re also appreciating those brands’ sustainability. This will surely increase their love for luxury items and lead them to outlets like Vault, which we’ll likely see more of in the near future.

While fast fashion has its place, luxury brands are coming up with new ways to meet younger consumers where they are, both in terms of financing and social responsibility. They meet these buyers’ fashion needs, developing sustainable approaches that hit those customers where their hearts are.

“As more millennials and Gen Z shoppers come into their peak purchasing power, luxury brands have an opportunity to capitalize on this growing wealth,” according to ecommerce solutions site Scalefast, noting that younger shoppers have specific buying preferences that brands have to factor in—from sustainability to personalization to social media influence—and adapt to if they want to provide the ecommerce experience that these generations expect.

This purchasing power is digitally driven and reacts to digital content and messaging. A recent eMarketer report highlighted that “Gen Z is getting older and steadily moving toward becoming the most digitally connected generation. In 2024, U.S. Gen Zers will surpass millennials in regular internet use, and they’ll do the same with smartphone penetration in 2026.”

The eMarketer report also addresses the purchasing power of this younger generation, which will only continue to grow. “In 2024, when U.S. Gen Z internet penetration will jump to 99.1%, Gen Zers will be between 12 and 27 years old. Millennials, who will be fully into adulthood (ages 28 to 43), will stagnate at 97.4% penetration.”

And these younger generations are having a significant impact on older consumers too. “These trends are not limited to millennials and Gen Z shoppers. Their preferences continue to influence older generations,” Scalefast added. “This means luxury brands should cater to younger buyers sooner rather than later to avoid missing out on the significant growth opportunities coming by the year 2035.”

5 Ways to Meet Gen Z Consumers Where They Are

It all starts with striving for social impact 

AdWeek Generation ZJ_art/Getty Images

Generational marketing isn’t easy. Getting it right requires expert knowledge, consistent monitoring of trends and a willingness to make unexpected pivots. With five generations of consumers now in the marketplace, and with Gen Z on track to become the largest cohort of consumers in the near future—performance marketers must sharpen their pencils now or risk getting left behind the generational marketing curve.

That’s because each generation has its own set of beliefs, preferences and shared experiences, all of which influence the way they think and act. These factors also impact how they buy, interact with brands and consume products and services. Attitudes and habits for Gen Z specifically are different and influenced by social impact. Whether they’re watching videos or BuzzFeed reviews to see the latest tech gadgets, looking for recipes online that they can make at home or using interactive technology to color their own hair, younger consumers expect a similar experience online and offline.

Where to watch

In late 2021, YPulse surveyed about 1,200 weekly social media users aged 13-24 in the U.S. and produced the 2022 Instagram Trend Report. “We tapped into the minds of Gen Z to learn more about the rising Instagram trends across categories including music, fashion, creators, beauty, social justice and so much more,” YPulse states.
Here are five top trends that all performance marketers should consider when developing campaigns and strategies that meet younger consumers where they are:

PJs are being replaced with “real” clothing again as consumers get back out into the world. After spending two years in athleisure, young people are making bold moves with their style choices, using fashion as a vehicle for joy, optimism and self-expression, YPulse reports. “Expect to see alt-fashion (think Goth, Dark Academic, Goblincore, etc.) reach its peak as people spend more time together.”

Natural beauty is in. YPulse’s survey found that 33% of young people are interested in learning more about and buying “clean” makeup and skincare in 2022. This includes plant-based skincare, vegan makeup, using less products on their skin in general (i.e., skin minimalism) or more manufactured from “clean” ingredients.

Games are the new malls. Quarantine fueled a boom in video games, and this isn’t slowing down anytime soon. “More young people are spending more time inside playing games, especially in those that also double as social spaces,” reports YPulse, which says 40% of teens and young adults expect to see more video game trends in 2022, and that 3 in 10 expect to livestream others playing video games.

Young consumers like the DIY approach. When quarantines kept them home, consumers across all generations learned to lean on themselves for services that they would otherwise outsource. Knowing this, companies like L’Oréal are coming up with new innovations that feed the DIY trend. At CES 2022, for example, it introduced Colorsonic, a brush-like concept that aims to make home hair coloring easier, and Coloright, an AI-connected system for salon stylists, which allows virtual try-ons and the creation of custom shades.

Technology continues to proliferate. This is happening in response to customer demand for innovative products—and because vendors have the resources needed to bring their ideas to reality. It’s been nearly a decade since the original Oculus Rift was born. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets have been slowly improving since then, as evidenced at this year’s CES show. Some of the newer entrants include Sony’s PS VR2 headset, HTC’s Vive Wrist Tracker and Shiftall MeganeX’s ultra-lightweight headset.

Performance marketers should keep these trends in mind as they plan their campaigns for the rest of the year and seek out new ways to reach Gen Z consumers where they are. Whether these young customers are gaming at home, buying natural makeup products, doing their own hair or testing out the latest gadgets, marketers should focus on establishing meaningful connections and trust with this valuable consumer group, which already boasts an estimated collective buying power of $150 billion.

5 Performance Marketing Trends to Watch in 2022

From new payment solutions to the continuing convergence of social media and shopping, brands must navigate several purchase paths

AdWeekwarodom changyencham/Getty Images

Brands that can stay flexible with the current environment while delivering products and services consumers are looking for will always come out ahead, writes Jessica Hawthorne-Castro.

As consumer preferences change and the various ways to reach them continue to proliferate, finding the right approach can be challenging. There are generational factors to consider, emerging opportunities to explore and new hurdles to jump along the path to finding the right marketing mix.

To complicate things further, every new year seems to bring a host of new opportunities worth exploring. To help, we’ve whittled down our list of trends to watch to five key points all performance marketers will want to pay attention to in 2022. Here they are:

1. New ways for consumers to pay for their purchases

From cryptocurrency to Venmo to simplified multi-pay financing arrangements like Afterpay and Affirm, your customers expect these and other options to be at their fingertips as they hit “buy now” on your website. They’re also looking for a seamless experience enabled by QR codes, which cut down on the number of clicks it takes to look at, read reviews about and buy a product or service. These and other trends took hold in 2021 and we expect them to continue and even escalate over the coming months.

2. Social media continues its reign

Try as they might, the powers that be have yet to come up with a more engaging and interesting way to connect with customers and prospects online. For now, at least, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube continue to offer marketers the most affordable and direct way to achieve that goal. And because younger generations are among the biggest users of social media, it’s also an effective way to reach Millennial and Gen Z consumers on their own territory. The social media fire has been stoked and 2022 may be the year that these platforms become the go-to media opportunity for a wider range of companies.

3. Marketers are obsessed with monetizing TikTok

Within these social media circles, TikTok stands out as one of the biggest opportunity areas for the year ahead. That’s because marketers spent much of 2021 figuring out how to monetize this platform and, from our own research, some of them have found the right combination. And while TikTok doesn’t offer video creators the opportunity to monetize their videos, it does provide an Ads Manager service that companies can use to choose a goal, select an audience, set a budget and design an ad. TikTok may be considered one of the newer social media platforms, but it’s already proven to be a major competitor by doubling the number of Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter users within a short timeframe. Amazon even created an entire page based on popular products recommended by TikTok users at Tik Tok Amazon Finds.

4. Subscription delivery services evade the supply chain challenges

The global pandemic disrupted supply chains to the point where products lingered unfinished on the manufacturing floor; container ships sat stacked up outside of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles; and stores left entire store aisles empty for lack of product to place on them. Any company that made, sold or distributed products likely managed disruption at some point during 2021, but organizations whose models incorporated subscription delivery services were able to avoid some or all of this strife. Software companies, TV networks, travel services, publications and others all fulfilled orders virtually, thus avoiding the supply chain snarls. We see this continuing during the year ahead as more companies add virtual subscription opportunities to their product offerings.

5. YouTube continues to morph into a shopping destination

In November, YouTube launched a weeklong livestreaming event called “Holiday Stream and Shop.” According to BNN Bloomberg, select social media stars sold their own merchandise and brand-name products directly on the platform. In the weeks that followed, YouTubers could hawk goods from their videos, a concept known as “shoppable video.” The publication says this is all part of the company’s “biggest push yet to become a shopping destination.” This will likely be a game changer for 2022 and beyond, seeing that purchases made on social media exceeded $36 billion in 2021. We can’t wait to watch the continued convergence of video and social media—an opportunity that will be open to both emerging and established brands over the coming year (and beyond).

As we usher in 2022, brands will continue to need to meet consumers’ growing needs with the discussed payment method expansion and reaching them across streaming and social media platform. The types of brands that can stay flexible with the current environment while delivering products and services consumers are looking for to enhance their lives will always come out ahead and succeed.

Hold On, We’ve Entered a Digital Marketing Time Warp

How performance marketers can leverage accelerated industry trends

Supply ChainAdweek/Getty Images

Digital channels were well on their way to becoming an advertising delivery mode of choice for performance marketers when the pandemic emerged in March 2020.

In the months that followed, the global crisis pushed digital marketing forward anywhere from five to 10 years (depending on whom you ask). This disrupted the normal timeline of marketing, throwing the industry into warp speed—and it’s unlikely to slow down.

These changes cut across generational lines. With millennials and Gen Z having grown up with mobile technology at their fingertips, they became the first logical targets for companies moving their advertising to the digital space in the last two years. But the pandemic-driven shutdowns and restrictions also impacted Gen X, baby boomer and silent generation consumers, who turned to the virtual world for their content and entertainment.

Moving the needle quickly
Digital marketing matured to a point that it wasn’t expected to reach until at least 2026, creating opportunities and challenges for performance marketers to meet consumers in their new customer journey and timeline. Favorite engagement points included online video, pay-per-click advertising, social, CTV/OTT, sponsored content, mobile and email.

Consumer product good giant Unilever is honing and optimizing its marketing plans while also setting its sights on reaching consumers at multiple touch points. Performance marketers can borrow a page from this playbook as they lay out their plans for 2022 and beyond.

“We have to change with our consumers, engage with them differently than before on digital,” Unilever’s Min Kang stated in Marketing After Covid: Brands & Marketers on Their Biggest Learnings. “Digital allows us to be agile and flexible, with a strategic approach to promotions that balances scale, efficiency and effectiveness.

“The key is to understand all these different dynamics and consumer preferences and deliver a rich consumer engagement that brings value at scale,” Kang added.

Social takes off
With face-to-face experiences replaced with virtual interactions, social media became a shining star for performance marketers working to reach younger generations of buyers. From TikTok to Facebook and Snapchat, the number of advertising opportunities proliferated as more brands turned to social media platforms to spread awareness about their products and services.

“With concerns about brand safety, supply chain distribution, daily changes in shopping behavior and more, advertisers learned the importance of needing to be able to adapt quickly within their social campaign strategies,” Quotient’s Drew Hall states in the same white paper. “This included cross-platform designs and changes in media targeting and creative messaging.”

Be ready for anything
With the upcoming year promising new opportunities and challenges for performance marketers, it’s time to start honing those plans with a ready-for-anything mindset. Be prepared to make quick pivots, pay attention to consumer trends—including any generational-specific developments—and come to terms with the fact that this digital marketing time warp that we’re all experiencing may carry into the new year.

As Janet Balis wrote in the Harvard Business Review, getting to know your customer segment better is the perfect starting point for marketers trying to adjust to this new normal. She advises brands to communicate in “very local and precise” terms, understand the situation on the ground (by country, state, zip code, etc.), and create personally relevant messaging for the target audience.

Using a blend of art and science, performance marketers can effectively reach, engage with and sell to consumers in any business environment. Balis added, “Creating a personal, human connection within any commercial message requires defining consumer segments that describe people according to multiple dimensions that influence their purchasing behavior, from their psychographics to attitudinal characteristics.”

Understanding Why TikTok Appeals to Young People Is Key to Brands Reaching Them

It’s no secret that young people gravitate to the newest things, the latest trends and the hottest styles as they grow and establish their individual identities. For many teens and college-age students right now, social media newcomer TikTok stands out as the preferred conduit for watching, creating and sharing short videos.

TikTok AdWeekSolen Feyissa, Shingi Rice/Unsplash

In July, TikTok upped its video length limit from 1 minute to 3 minutes with the goal of supporting even richer storytelling and entertainment. “With all the ways our community has redefined expression in under 60 seconds, we’re excited to see how people continue to entertain and inspire with a few more seconds and a world of creative possibilities,” the company said.

“A lot of times you don’t even have to search for what you’re looking for on TikTok. It’s just there.”

A prime target
With a longer video format to work with and a young user base to tap into, TikTok is a prime target for performance marketers looking to rise above the digital clutter and reach new audiences. Offering a continuous stream of content that users can scroll through, the platform curates the videos for each person based on their viewing history.

“A lot of times you don’t even have to search for what you’re looking for on TikTok,” said one college student. “It’s just there.” She especially likes content such as fashion videos that provide information about where to buy the clothing and accessories, and clips about what to bring to college, where to buy your books and how to manage your time.
TikTok also helps to break down some of the social anxieties that younger consumers may have naturally developed as part of the social media generation. That’s because it’s more helpful and collaborative than other social media platforms. It encourages questions and collaboration, for example, and is known for its supportive, less-judgmental tones.

Finally, TikTok promotes individuality and helps users cope with the stress of the global pandemic and isolation by helping to connect people.

Types of TikTok advertising
Similar to the early days of digital advertising, TikTok creators may display “I’m not being paid for this” disclaimers on their clips, while influencers who create ads label them as such at the bottom of their videos. I would estimate that most of endorsements fall into the first bucket, and are seen as genuine, organic recommendations. And while these may not be official, paid advertising relationships, it’s likely that the creators are getting free products and/or teeing themselves up to become influencers.

Many of these influencers have millions of followers and have previously signed brand deals on platforms like YouTube and Instagram to promote products and services to their audience. “TikTok is no different, and the power of followers can be harnessed the same way,” Ruth Matthews writes in 6 Easy Ways to Use TikTok for Marketing in a Gen Z World.

Because successful content on TikTok isn’t overly curated and relies on user input, influencers can get creative with how they promote brands. “Some examples of this are wearing a piece of relevant clothing or filming themselves using one of your products as part of their day-to-day lifestyle,” Matthews writes.

Still, the balance between brands and influencers over creative license is delicate—and desire to go viral often comes up against a brand’s stricter standards of what it can get behind.

Another opportunity for brands on the platform is ecommerce. TikTok recently announced a partnership with Shopify, including the launch of TikTok Shopping, a partnership with select Shopify merchants. The introduction of new tools will allow Shopify merchants to create, run and optimize their TikTok marketing campaigns directly from the Shopify dashboard. Kylie Jenner is among the early adopters of the new service for her Kylie Cosmetics brand.

Taking that first step
For performance marketers, TikTok is a viable platform for reaching younger consumers and getting their products into the algorithm for recommendations (e.g., back to school, trends, clothing, electronics, etc.) The return on investment can be high because this is where younger audiences are spending their time right now. Meeting them where they are with relevant, useful content and product offerings can be well worth the effort.

Making Up for Lost Time: How Younger Consumers Are Spending Their Summers

What Gen Y and Z are doing and how performance marketers can reach them where they are

As the world continues to open up, marketers are rethinking how they connect with and engage Gen Y and Z consumers, many of whom have been cooped up for the last 16 or so months.

Summer is looking very different for Gen Y and Z consumers right now. Now aged 13 to 39, these generation groups are spending more time with their families, taking outdoor hikes, enjoying time off from school and hanging out with their friends. For entertainment, they’re going to the movies, taking vacations and watching summer sports.

According to a recent YPulse survey, Gen Y and Z are doing more of all of these things as the nation continues to emerge from the global pandemic. For example, 80% of the under-40 set is spending time with family this summer (up from 66% in 2020), 62% are enjoying barbecues (versus 41% last year) and 60% are going to the beach or pool (36% in 2020).

“Summer 2020 was shaped by the pandemic,” YPulse points out. “And while there has been uncertainty around whether ‘normal’ would make a return this year, [our] data shows that young people are planning to get out and make up for lost time this summer.”

Meeting them where they are
Tired of only being able to socialize via mobile phone or Zoom, Gen Y and Z want to get outside, hike, explore the mountains and take a dip in the ocean. As they get back to experiencing some of life’s simple pleasures, they’re also spending more time with friends and family.

“Everyone’s been stuck inside for months, so we want to get outside. It’s not necessarily about doing a big activity; we just want to get out,” said one 20-something Hawthorne employee who shared her thoughts with me for this article. With TikTok as a favored social channel, she says she’s been seeing more targeted ads on that platform plus more billboards and signpost stickers popping up around her town.

Here are four more avenues that marketers can explore as they attempt to pin down their Gen Z and Y audiences this summer:

Social media ads. The TikTok “For You” pages feature continuous, scrolling videos that feature subtle ads made to look like other TikToks. Viewers may not realize they’re watching an ad until they’re halfway through it. Snapchat stories takes a similar approach, but using articles that people can read by clicking through to them, while Instagram stories include sponsored feeds—also subtle and not as noticeable for viewers.

Music to their ears. Streaming music services like Spotify, Apple and YouTube also present opportunities for marketers, knowing that Gen Z’ers heading to a beach barbecue will probably take along a speaker with them. With audio ads, marketers can reach active listeners on any device, in any environment, throughout the day. That’s because the ads are served up between songs, while there are no distractions.

Geotargeting. The delivery of different content to visitors based on their geolocations, geotargeting helps companies reach Gen Y and Z consumers when they are out and about. If they’re gathered around a firepit set up in a restaurant’s outdoor seating area, for example, these youngers are constantly checking their phones and social feeds. The group that plans to hit the beach within the next few days may need new beach towels, umbrellas or coolers for the outing. Using geotargeting, marketers can hit them while they’re making plans and writing up their shopping lists.

Video games. They may be heading outdoors, but Gens Y and Z still love their video games. This presents an opportunity for marketers to create in-app ads on the popular gaming platforms. According to Deloitte’s 2021 Digital Media Trends survey, Gen Z consumers say video games are their top entertainment activity, with 87% of them playing video games on a daily or weekly basis. “Video games were already growing significantly before Covid-19, but have been amplified during the pandemic,” Deloitte points out. “Many are playing daily to fill idle time, connect with friends, compete with opponents and escape into stories.”

Rethinking connections and engagement
As the world continues to open up, marketers are rethinking how they connect with and engage Gen Y and Z consumers, many of whom have been cooped up for the last 16 or so months. And while the national vaccine rollout is still in full swing, and the worldwide impacts of the pandemic have yet to subside, individuals are looking to make up for lost time this summer. For marketers, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet consumers where they are and give them valuable information, content and products that they’re hungering for.

5 Travel Boom Trends for Performance Marketers to Watch in 2021

Go-to destinations are being replaced with out-of-the-way places

AdWeek - Travel Boom Trends

 

There’s a lot of pent-up demand in the leisure travel world right now, which means companies forced to mothball their sales and marketing efforts in 2020 are in a great position to reboot those initiatives and tap into the post-Covid travel boom. From hotel operators to RV parks to online booking companies and all points in between, a diverse range of companies suddenly has the opportunity to come back stronger than ever.

According to Expedia Group’s 2021 Travel Trends Report, 42% of travelers are “more hopeful” about travel or drove them to book an upcoming trip. The report found that 44% will take more trips in 2021 than 2020, with younger generations traveling the most overall. And, roughly one-third of respondents said their next trip will be a week, or longer.

5 key trends to watch

As they help consumers break out of pandemic isolation and resume some level of “normal” activities, companies in the travel industry may find themselves operating in a very different environment that what they’re used to. Here are five trends performance marketers should pay attention to when developing new strategies for reaching this audience:

1. Longer trips are in order

Weekend trips away from home may not cut it for the travelers that were relegated to staycations in 2020. According to Concur TripIt data, there’s already been an increase in trip duration—spanning flight, lodging, and car rentals—signaling that travelers are planning trips with an intent to stay longer. “And without the physical confines of work or school,” Localogy reports, “longer stays at short-term rentals will continue to be a popular choice for business and leisure travelers alike.”

2. It’s about culture, reconnecting and healing

Expedia says that travelers plan to spend an average of $3,444 for their next trips, with millennials expected to spend “significantly more.” The reasons behind the travel vary: 63% of respondents said travel creates greater cultural understanding while 56% see it as a healing mechanism.

For others, being able to travel again means reconnecting with loved ones and family members that they missed visiting in 2020.

3. Different generations have varying travel priorities


Americans still prioritize travel to be close to family (32%), according to a recent Airbnb study, but equally prioritize a new experience or destination (31%), preferably nearby, followed by a return to a favorite destination (25%). Older Americans (50+) are most interested in future travel to be close to family (33%) and to revisit a favorite spot (32%), followed by a new experience or destination (29%).

Younger Americans remain most interested in a second trip as a new experience or destination (35%), followed by being close to family (31%), being close to nature (23%) and returning to a favorite place (23%).

4. Go-to destinations are being replaced with out-of-the-way places

According to Airbnb, the top 10 destination cities for travelers (ranked by nights stayed) in 2019 were Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, and Toronto.

“In 2020, smaller, lower-profile destinations saw major growth in demand,” it says, citing the largest year-over-year increases in searches for 2021 bookings as: Derbyshire, U.K.; Rodanthe (on the coast of North Carolina); Forks, Wash. (the main setting for the Twilight series); and the Muskoka Lakes (a few hours’ drive from Toronto).

5. Trip cancellation insurance gains in popularity

Coming off a year that saw many people cancelling trips and then trying to get their deposits back, travelers are covering their assets with trip cancellation insurance. In fact, revenues for the global travel insurance market are expected to reach $40 billion by 2028 (up from $21 billion in 2019).

Credit the fact that travelers are encountering new requirements that could impact their travel plans and their travel insurance needs.

As companies in the travel industry help consumers make up for lost time,—vacation, postponed holiday gatherings and missed family time—people are optimistic about getting moving again.

This presents a great opportunity for performance marketers to plan ahead, understand the competitive landscape targeting travelers and plant their stakes in this “next normal” leisure travel environment

Untapped Opportunity: Putting the Power of Voice to Work

You could be missing out on a major opportunity to reach an even wider swath of customers

Voice Search AdWeek

Using speech to ask questions, get directions and give commands to smartphones and smart devices, voice search lets the searcher speak right to the device which, in turn, answers the question or fulfills the command. It not only provides relief for typing-weary fingers and addresses younger, digital generations, but voice also gives marketers a new way to engage with their target audiences.

Even though 55% of households in the U.S. are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022, there’s a missed opportunity when it comes to selling goods and services via this channel. As more consumers use their voices to get answers from smart speakers—be it asking Siri for directions from an iPhone or asking Alexa for the current temperature—Talk Business & Politics says few are using it to make retail purchases. “[T]he voice commerce frontier is wide open for retailers and suppliers to open lines of communication with consumers.”

Getting on board with voice
Now, this opportunity lies in front of all performance-focused marketers who need new ways of connecting and engaging with their audiences in an ultracompetitive business market. Marketers looking to form bonds with Gen Y and Gen Z consumers are paying particularly close attention to this trend, as younger buyers are among the first to use voice in lieu of typing out keywords, phrases and search queries.

Maybe that’s because voice search is about 3.7 times faster than typing: The average person types 38-40 words per minute but speaks 110-150 words per minute.

“In just a few years, you may be spending as much—or more—time interacting with devices that have no screen as you do with devices that have screens, such as laptops and smartphones,” wrote Perficient, a digital consultancy, which, in a recent survey, found that 55% of people use search on mobile and that nearly 40% use voice assistance at least once a month.

“Voice has the potential to be a disruptive force in the industry and will, therefore, result in new winners and losers,” according to Perficient, “and you want to be among the winners.”

Some tech giants are also getting into the voice game, with Microsoft being one of the most recent to make the move. In April, it acquired speech-recognition company Nuance Communications, which sells tools for recognizing and transcribing speech in doctor’s visits, customer-service calls and voicemails.

Ready, set, go
As more consumers expand their use of voice search, more companies will be looking for ways to optimize voice-based search. One way to do this is by thinking locally with your ads, knowing that someone in Houston is going to ask Siri for recommendations for “a plumber in Houston” or an “Italian restaurant nearby.” Brands must utilize voice search much the way they do with paid and organic search, accessible to convert when a consumer is taking action.

You also want to make sure your website is mobile friendly and that any paid search efforts are focused on keywords (versus natural language). Think about how you would ask for a nail salon, a hardware store or a good restaurant recommendation—versus how you would type that out on a keyboard—and parlay that into your own marketing approach.

Search Engine Watch says using long-tail keywords (specific words that your audience is likely to say), curating content that provides direct answers, optimizing your Google My Business page and striving for increased domain authority are some of the other good ways to optimize voice search.

For now, many companies are expanding voice search. This presents an incredible opportunity for the marketers that put the time and effort into this engagement channel. With at least 4.2 billion digital voice assistants being used in devices worldwide, and with forecasts that suggest the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units by 2024, the time to explore and exploit this untapped opportunity is now.

Traditional Trade Shows and Live Events Are Returning—and Better This Time

They’re set to be engaging and effective

Adweek

When the pandemic began in March 2020, one of the first industries to take a hit was business travel. Trade shows and other live events quickly followed in a world where large gatherings of any kind were considered a health risk. Within a few months, we began to see virtual events sprouting up online as an alternative to face-to-face shows.

As that trend matured, and as event organizers honed their virtual approaches, it looks like these online events are here to stay. Even as the pandemic retreats and it becomes safer to gather in person, virtual events will likely remain a key part of how businesses and their employees get together to display, discuss and demonstrate their latest products and services.

Participating and engaging from anywhere
Forced to get creative about how they hold events during a pandemic, some organizers have adopted a hybrid approach. Cloud-based digital event platform ON24 says the hybrid event encompasses both physical and digital tactics, effectively allowing marketers to “scale up or down based on safety concerns for themselves, sponsors and audience members.”

Here’s how it works: There are in-person “live” attendees as well as a virtual component that allows the audience to participate and engage from anywhere. The digital components of the hybrid event can include Twitter chats, livestream sessions, targeted landing pages, virtual networking experiences and other interactive elements.

The virtual portion broadens the event’s message and reach because it’s easier and cheaper for attendees to participate. Hybrid events also attract attendees who wouldn’t otherwise have the time or resources to be able to travel to a live trade show, and they can literally live forever online and be offered on demand long after the show is over.

People can attend from anywhere—their homes, offices or vacation spots—utilize breakout rooms to connect with small groups, and select the best use of their time (e.g., only those keynotes that are most relevant). “[Hybrid] events allow you to mix both in-person and digital experiences,” ON24 points out, “giving your gathering a sense of immediateness both online and off.”

Virtual is here to stay
Even as people begin to resume their normal routines and as business travel kicks back into gear, the hybrid event is here to stay—and for good reason. It allows marketers to reach a broader audience, creates opportunities for more one-on-one interactions with prospects, and utilizes advanced communication tools to extend those relationships past the day of the event.

Online events also set the stage for better networking—in many cases, the very reason that professionals attend trade shows and conferences in the first place. Registered attendees at the recent ProMatDX 2021 logistics show, for example, could set up short, virtual “appointments” with potential customers and business partners in advance of the actual show date. The show also featured a matchmaking portal that used artificial intelligence (AI) that allowed both sponsors and attendees to determine how to tailor their interactions based on specific interests. The show host plans to use the AI-enabled networking tool at its next live event.

The virtual setting also allows show organizers to pack more content into a shorter amount of time, and helps attendees make the most of their time. Dedicating a few hours to an online event versus taking five days out of a busy schedule would be a no-brainer for most, and also opens the door to attend even more events within a truncated time frame.

The new breed
Whether hybrid or fully virtual, the “new breed” of trade show also breaks down some of the barriers that exist when thousands of people converge in person, expecting to make valuable contacts and meet new prospects. Arranging these meetings is never easy, but meeting someone in the online format and then sending them a LinkedIn invitation presents an instant connection opportunity to solidify that interaction.

For brands, hybrid events provide good sponsorship opportunities. Much like podcasts, which cater to specific listener segments, virtual events can be narrowly targeted to certain groups. They also provide different touchpoints—advertising, banner ads, breakout sessions, etc.—for brands to create new connections with the audience. And because the shows are evergreen and available on-demand, the longevity of those touchpoints is better than you’d see with a live event.

Hybrid events also appeal to millennials and Gen Z professionals that are accustomed to digital interactions and to having choices. With many of these individuals working remotely, the opportunity to participate in a relevant, engaging event—and one that invites and supports safe social interaction—may be particularly compelling for the younger audience.

Looking ahead, it’s becoming pretty clear that virtual and hybrid events aren’t going away. In fact, the model will continue to evolve, but the bottom line is that organizations that don’t embrace it now will miss out. People are accepting this new way to connect, and the unique way that it brings us together to interact and collaborate.