The digital era has changed the way we communicate and behave dramatically. The same is also applicable to the way in which businesses worldwide change the way in which they connect and engage with consumers. However, many businesses understand the importance of consumer engagement but tend to fail to take actions in order to work on and improve their consumer engagement. Latest research focuses on exploring the how of consumer engagement and looks at things businesses can learn. In tourism, consumer engagement is a central part of the travel cycle both prior, during and after a holiday. Many destinations and tourism organisations are still in a stage where they can improve or rethink their approach in terms of consumer engagement (Google Think Insights).
Consumers worldwide are influencing content and culture and are using digital technologies on a daily, if not hourly basis. This undoubtedly, impacts on the way in which consumers are thinking and acting and also the way in which brands are seen and relationships built. The modern consumer is looking for brands to invite them to discussions rather than solely talking to them. Creation, curation, connection and community are things consumers are worshipping and looking for – these consumers are therefore called Gen C due to their attitude and mindset. Gen C are looking for interesting and sharable content they can spread and at the same time rely on peer approval for any purchasing decisions.
For this new generation, photos and videos are used to capture and show their everyday life – by curating content consumers can see the newness of their everyday giving them reason to share it. Experiences are captured through images or videos and shared with the world and communities. By live-curating, consumers are controlling the way in which they are perceived by their communities and others. Through sharing a post, image or video, not only the experience is shared but also the emotion that is attached to it – this makes Gen C feel alive and become personal advocates.
The new way of engaging consumers most efficiently is not aiming at exposure by reaching a large audience. Through the emergence of new media platforms, tourism businesses and destinations can measure engagement a lot better by connecting directly with consumers and see if they are engaged with these messages through looking at user choice, interaction, sharing or conversations. This is an easier way to measure engagement and Gen C is also facilitating this by connecting directly with brands. However, Gen C also want organisations to continue to work on and continue to improve the quality of interactions.
Prioritising is key
Tourism organisations and destinations really need to ensure they are not just targeting an audience on the basis of reaching as many people as possible, but focus on engaging consumers that matter the most. Reaching these consumers can be more valuable as businesses can learn a lot from their interactions and this information can then be used to identify how the business can increase its reach. Advocacy plays a key role in that. If consumers start talking about a brand or a destination, other consumers are more likely to be influenced by this. Brands need to add value in the digital era to the communities the brand is part of. Conversations around the brand might be happening even if the organisation is not noticing it, so by using digital, they can actually jump into the conversation and steer it.
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