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Daniel Levine
The Avant-Guide Institute

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#DTTT Blog

The #DTTT met Daniel Levine, global trends expert and keynote speaker on consumer business and tourism marketing, who will be joining us on stage at #DTTTGlobal - Disrupting the Future Destination, on the 1st & 2nd of December in Brussels. Daniel will open our event with a thrilling presentation full with top level ideas and insights for destinations and suppliers, enlightening #DTTTGlobal participants with the latest trends in tourism and leisure. Discover the difference between a trend and a fad, learn how to identify trends that are both profitable and meaningful, and walk away with easy-to-implement tactics that bring you up-to-speed and give you a competitive edge.

#DTTT: Tell us a little bit more about yourself

I have had a unique window looking into the travel industry since the beginning of my career. Upon graduation from New York University I started writing travel guidebooks for the largest American publisher and ended up writing 10 bestselling books to major cities around the world. Over the years I saw many tourism trends forming and in 2003 started the Avant-Guide Institute (AGI) with some partners. Today, AGI has thousands of trend spotters stationed around the world who send us information about new and unique products, services and ideas they find. In our New York office we analyze this information and "connect the dots," so when we start to see the same kinds of things happening in a particular demographic, geographic or psychographic we recognize these as examples of emerging trends and start to track and measure them. Our business is helping destinations and travel suppliers understand and benefit from the trends that are motivating people to travel. Working with us, DMOs and tourism businesses can create new experiences and marketing initiatives that make them more relevant, attractive and profitable.

#DTTT: How can destinations and travel businesses benefit from social trends?

Social trends reflect lifestyle decisions. They are evidence of human desires and represent demand for products, services and experiences. Companies and destinations spend lots of resources trying to get visitors to pay attention and be interested in their offerings. So, what if you knew that your visitors are particularly excited by sustainability? Or gravitate towards learning experiences? Or are starting to brag less about bling and more about how they are protecting their families? What could you do that would embrace these trends in such a compelling way that customers (visitors) would actually pay attention? Club owners in Rotterdam, Holland built an energy-collecting dance floor that used human power to help electrify the club. A hotel in Seattle, Washington partnered with local university professors to host a fun and educational "Night School" in the bar. And Mercedes-Benz didn't change their product at all, but they altered their marketing to emphasize safety, rather than status. The Avant-Guide Institute has worked with many businesses and destinations to help them come up with creative trends-based offerings that increase visibility and profits.

#DTTT: Daniel, you are a celebrated trends expert, inspiring people to understand travel and consumer trends. What are three consumer trends that you have seen emerge which will affect destinations?

First of all, we are entering the age of "post-demographic consumerism" whereby it is no longer so easy to group travelers into convenient segments such as age, gender, location, income, and the like. More and more, travelers are acting like unique individuals, each of whom has her own unique profile. Increasingly, we need to cater to these new travelers with personalized marketing and offerings.
Secondly, the nature of customer service is changing. Because consumer expectations are often set and shaped outside our industry, it is likely that your customer experience has fallen out of sync with the increasing expectations of your visitors. Across industries, companies are raising the bar on customer care and the travel industry needs to up its game.
And third, looking into the not-too-distant future, destinations will need to address many new technologies, including driverless cars, drones, virtual reality, big data, 3D printers, wearable computers and artificial intelligence.
I will be talking about many of these trends and more at my presentation at DTTT Global, so you better be there!

#DTTT: Why is it so important for destinations to get a new vision on trends and understand how they can implement them?

The celebrated naturalist Charles Darwin is purported to have said something like "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." The same goes for travel businesses and destinations. We need to be keenly aware of which way the cultural winds are blowing and adjust our marketing and offerings accordingly. In short, businesses need to be aware of what travelers want and learn how to give it to them. If you are out of sync with what visitors are looking for you will slip into irrelevance. Understanding trends is one part innovative marketing and one part consumer psychology, and a shortcut to understanding travelers. Trends are the secret sauce for getting inside the travelers' mind. When you know what trends are motivating travelers to travel, you are you are in a very good position to create new initiatives that appeal to these customers' sensibilities.

#DTTT: Which digital trends are changing the approach to digital marketing as we know it?

There are so many, but it is clear that 2016 is turning out to be the year that virtual reality and augmented reality finally goes mainstream. We have been waiting to see what the breakout technologies would be that popularize these technologies and it's happening this year with hardware like Oculus Rift and software like Pokémon Go. Watch this space!

#DTTT: How can destinations be in a better position to adapt to and tap-into macro trends?

First, destinations have to adopt a mindset in which they strive to sell benefits, rather than features: Don't just show potential visitors what they will see when they get there; help them feel what they will keep with them when they get back home. With this in mind, learn what visitors want. Understanding social trends is a natural component of sales, yet few businesspeople are able identify motivations that drive consumer behavior. My presentation at DTTT Global will help you better understand our quickly changing consumer landscape. You will get a good sense of what today's visitors thinking and feeling, and you will learn about the values and attitudes that underpin travel behaviors. I'll even show some easy ways that any tourism businesses or destination can embrace trends to attract visitors and increase sales. Happily, I'll be attending the entire DTTT Global event so I'll have a chance to personally meet many delegates and talk about each of their specific needs and issues. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Early Bird Tickets will be available only until 31st of July, register now to save 25% on standard ticket pricing.

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