There are a number of trends that are being mentioned a lot by thought leaders and experts in digital marketing in the tourism industry. Interestingly, these experts are always leading the way and are much more advanced with regards to recognising the power of digital technologies and innovations and also the change in consumer behaviour demanding and resulting in out of the box thinking. In the following some of these more refined ways of looking at current trends in digital will be explored in detail in order to show marketers what key trends need to be considered by them in the short and long term with regards to developing their individual digital strategy (DTTT 2013).
People or the customer is in power and this empowerment is happening with the help of digital. Previously, many businesses had power of the consumer and simple rules of demand and supply were impacting on the tourism industry. Now, with digital being such an integral part of our daily lives, the customer is at the core of everything and is also empowered through the availability of technologies and the wealth of online channels and platforms that can help the customer in its travel decisions. This also means that another very interesting trend is emerging. Social commerce. With companies such as airbnb growing dramatically with 3million stays in 2012 alone, the customer is also doing business from customer to customer.
Storytelling is another major trend that is becoming increasingly important, as through the use of various platforms and channels a story can be told much more efficient and the overall experience that travellers have with a story is heightened due to increased use of channels and platforms. This is good news for tourism, as every destination or business has a story to tell and through digital, experiences linked to stories can be told and amplified. Destination’s role in this storytelling process is essential, as many businesses can contribute to the overall destination story. However, managing this storytelling process does require a strategic approach rather than a very tactical - trial and error approach. There are four areas that form the model of storytelling and need to be considered: 1. Message, 2. Conflict, 3. Characters and 4. Plot. All these components are essential when getting started with storytelling, as it is always about conveying a message, there needs to be a problem and there are several characters involved, that follow a plot or a set of actions. Destinations and businesses need to get started with storytelling as it is most powerful and replaces PR in its traditional sense, as it is all about stories, emotions and experiences in tourism that are the most powerful promotional and marketing tools.
Content is another important area that is becoming increasingly important in tourism. However, it needs to go beyond simple content but the editorial work on destination websites needs to be dealt with regularly, feeding in relevant content and most importantly aggregating content that is relevant and then distributing this content to stakeholders.
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