Travel Trends – Consumer Experiences, Millennial Mindset, Surviving the Downturn

Like many of you out there, we’re going through our biannual planning process at Travel Oregon. Having emerged from almost three weeks of media strategy meetings, reading research reports and other miscellaneous fun projects, this morning I’d love to share some recommended “critical reading” as you embark though planning for the next year.

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The Millennial Mindset: The Millennials (those born roughly 1980-1990) have been coming of age over the past few years and are a galvanizing a force in today’s consumer culture.  How will your media and outreach strategy evolve to cater to a this “super connected” set who’ve never seen a recession in their lifetime (until now!) and have always had the “safety net” of their helicopter parents?   Check out this presentation that was given by Drew Guiteras, a Strategic Planner at Weiden+Kennedy at the recent Marketing Outlook Forum for a primer on who the millennials are, what life forces shape them and what destinations can do to reach out to them.   To jump forward to Drew’s conclusions:

  1. Push don’t pull – Use a multitude of channels to be a resource and “push information”
  2. Arm consumers with instant information – E.g Twitter, Mosio etc.
  3. Millennials like the idea of the “open go’ – that is getting on a plane, landing at the destination and having the vacation fall into place.   Don’t think itineraries, think of providing an “idea starter” (e.g. Oregon 365)
  4. Think about incorporating “voluntourism” and other service oriented projects in your vacation offerings
  5. Help broadcast the show – provide tools for them to “brag” about their experience in your destination

Digital Marketing Now – Seven Strategies to Survive the Downturn: Geoff Ramsey, the always effervescent CEO of eMarketer recently published an interesting paper making the case that tough economic times can help digital marketers as CEO’s are looking to allocate their dollars to media vehicles that are “efficient, targeted, measurable and proven to demonstrate positive ROI.”   True to classic eMarketer form, this report is filled with a dizzying array of charts and numbers and some grounding advice on how to sharpen the focus of your digital marketing.    I highly encourage you to download this report (Sorry, registration required).  Geoff’s seven principles are:

  1. Accountability – Make sure your programs are accountable – If you’ve read our analytics and “engagement” posts in the past, you’ll know that Troy and I are huge proponents of measuring the meaningful impact of your efforts and documenting them for future
  2. Search – Get re-aquainted with your old trusted and true friend…search.  While Geoff focuses more on SEM (paid), one cannot forget the more  powerful “editorial” provided by SEO;
  3. Branding – Couple search with branding efforts (display ads); search works best when complemented with branding that helps “create awareness, interest and desire” (or maybe Geoff is single-handedly trying to stimulate the online ad economy!)
  4. Stay close to connected consumers via Email Marketing (still a very high return!) and social media.  Beware though…social media does have a low entry cost but does takes up a tremendous amount of staff time.
  5. Cultivate trust with consumers – In dire times, consumers reach for deeply discounted products or slip to the comfort of trusted brands;  one way to encourage trust is to perhaps cultivate your community of fans by asking for their feedback, featuring their stories (reviews) on your site and listening to their wants and needs (hey this sounds like “social media” does it not?)
  6. Engage customers via video – If a picture is worth a thousand words…what’s the value of video?  Having video on your site makes it more sticky and makes for a powerful influencer.
  7. Test, test, test – With consumers in a more deliberate mindset and open to trying new things, isn’t this the perfect time to experiment?

Feed: Are widgets the TV sets of the future? Does social media impact consumer purchasing? Do people really use Twitter? This and more are part of the new Avenue A report, FEED: The Razorfish Consumer Experience Report. With a healthy dose of research into “super connected” consumers and what tools they’re using and some interesting insight into how digital design, usability and portability will morph over the coming years, this annual report is something I highly anticipate and devour each year.   While I have to admit that there isn’t anything tremendously earth-shattering in this year’s report, I’d recommend at least a cursory review.  At least this year you don’t have to register for it!

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.