E-tourism Africa summit takeaways

E-tourism-connectedness

Written by Paula Chaplin

I was blown away by the standard of the recent eTAS conference I attended. The presentations were incredibly interesting and I learned an enormous amount about social media and the new frontiers of marketing and travel.

As far as our clients are concerned – this is what you would have heard… Some of this may be new – and some of it you’ll already know:

Online Travel

  • Online travel is no longer the future – it is happening!
  • Travellers today are egotistical and vocal – they want personalised attention and instant gratification.
  • Travellers are also mobile – 63% buy travel on their mobile devices.
  • Ratings and reviews matter! Properties on TripAdvisor can increase their rates by 11% for every “bubble” rating they get.
  • The most online bookings are coming from UK, Germany, USA and Australia. China look, but don’t book.
  • 72% of travellers who complain on Twitter expect a response within the hour.
  • Travellers want to stay connected and share their travel experience as they go. Free Wi-Fi is a must. (This one leaves me a little cold, personally. I think there’s a LOT to be said for forcing people to unplug and step back into the world around them).
  • As a brand – you need to engage with guests on their channels. If they are talking to you on Twitter – talk back. If they are reviewing you on TripAdvisor – respond.
  • Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are consolidating – and they are wanting to move into experience driven travel. i.e.: Sell activities, packages and safaris.
CRM – customer relationship management
  • CRM is becoming increasingly important as travellers want a personalised experience that sets your property apart from all others.
  • You have to ask yourself – what can you do to know your guests? You can use ResRequest to capture guest data, drive targeted campaigns and create personal experiences.
  • CRM doesn’t work unless you know what you want to do with the data you collect. What you want to do with the information should determine what information you collect.
  • Ask yourself – what do you need to know about your guest in order to give them the experience they want, have them come back again, and rate you highly?

Etas

Social Media
  • To keep your brand relevant – you need to have a social media presence.
  • Printed brochures are no longer necessary.
  • What you need is engagement – exposure to content is not enough. The aim is for it to be liked and shared.
  • In terms of content – simplicity wins. But simplicity is hard to achieve!
  • You can have a different “identity” on each social media platform-  because each will appeal to a different demographic. Vary the type of content on each platform.
  • If you are on Instagram – you need to have an identity. Who are you? What is your purpose?
  • Remember that what is big in your world is not necessarily big in the world. The reach of your message is more important than the relevance to your corporate identity.
  • You need to know who your audience is – and tailor your content to suit them. Don’t be bland in the hopes of appealing to everyone.
  • Once you have identified your demographic – rethink it constantly.
  • Use tools to gauge the success of your content. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
  • You can create or curate content. It doesn’t all have to come from you – your guests will produce the most amazing content so use this!
  • You should have at least a 10% engagement rate – if not, your content is not speaking to your market.

We’re moving into another era of travel and so our marketing methods have to adapt.  In the past brochures, mail shots and static websites were our main marketing materials, however now social media matters. Customers want to spend less time engaging with suppliers – but they want a more personalised experience. They want to do what everyone on TripAdvisor has told them to do in the reviews, but they want to have their own unique experience.It’s going to be tricky to get the balance right. I think what’s relevant to city hotels is not necessarily relevant to us in the safari world just yet. But it’s good to know where travel is going and what people connect with.The best holiday I have ever had was on a beach in Mozambique, where I had to climb a tree to get cellphone signal. It forced everyone to put down their phones and engage with each other and the experiences we were having. But I’m not very active on social media. If I was – that might have been torture. Younger travellers definitely want to Instagram their dinner and brag about their experiences as they enjoy them.

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