The world of travel is changing. In recent years, whether in Hong Kong, Greater China or around the world, Online Travel Agencies (OTA) and Low Cost Carriers (LCC) have been driving sales in travel and tourism industries. But while revenues have looked strong on the surface, they have been largely reliant on discounted or special deals. Evidently this is not sustainable, owing to high costs and low margins.
Enter customisation. We have heard PR and marketing professionals speak of personalisation many times over the years. It appears that in the travel and tourism sector, customisation is finally on its way and will make a big impact in 2017 and beyond.
Travel has been affordable and accessible for so long that travellers are now cultivating their own style, and are looking for unique experiences themed around their interests. For example, there is growing demand for niche travel based on sports, gastronomy, even wine. Travel opportunities are also emerging for specific identities or profiles, such as the LGBT community and young couples (and I’ve even heard that travel with an extramarital lover is common in China).
This shift in approach was confirmed to me during last month’s WIT (online travel) conference, which I attended in Singapore. I learned that travel and tourism professionals are prioritising target segmentation. For example, QYER has emerged as a go-to platform for budget travellers in China.
The challenge for us as PR or social media professionals is to therefore dig deeper. We must better understand changing tourism and travel nuances. It’s no longer a question of appealing to young professionals, for instance, but specific groups within the young professional crowd. We must then create unique stories for the group in question and reach them on the right platform, using the right language.