Pauline Buil, marketing director of Deployteq, part of Inspired Thinking Group, details the uphill battle the industry should face head on
Guest Post: Challenges facing the travel industry and how to solve them
The travel attractions and hospitality industry has undergone a substantial transformation up to 2023, due to many recent changes and innovations. Digitalisation is now widespread, sustainable travelling practices have increased in popularity, and the rise in remote work with trends such as “workation” and “bleisure” have led to longer stays when travelling.
However, the most significant obstacle was the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in strict lockdowns, causing unprecedented financial strain for businesses due to the drastic decline in travel and global tourism.
Despite these challenges, the industry has adapted to prioritise safety and sustainability to thrive in upcoming years.
According to an IMF report, tourism receipts worldwide were not expected to recover to 2019 levels until 2023. With several countries, including the US, UK, Germany, and Japan, facing economic downturns, it is crucial to understand the prolonged recovery and its impact in influencing travel choices, with people adjusting vacation and leisure plans to optimise free time while keeping costs low.
Research from Statista reveals that Britons are holidaying outside peak periods, booking budget-friendly flights, and taking fewer breaks to solve this issue. People still desire to spend despite reduced disposable income.
It is therefore vital to focus on strategic messaging, investing in relevant channels, and avoiding reduced marketing efforts during economic downturns to maintain and increase engagement. Instead, review how to optimise budget spending efficiently.
Technology and digital transformation
With the role of marketing technology and digital transformation in the travel attractions industry, there is a need for businesses to carefully evaluate the benefits these advancements can offer. Often, sales pitches at travel shows promote digital transformation without clear insights into how these technologies can address certain needs of individual businesses in the industry.
While the travel attractions industry has improved with regards to digital services, such as online check-in and queue management, enhancement is needed to achieve a greater ROI for the business. Instead of flashy, short-term innovations, using practical solutions with digital transformation, such as marketing automation platforms, can facilitate intuitive and fully connected campaigns for marketing and sales teams. This is likely to engage audiences, generate conversions, and achieve a significant return on investment (ROI).
Sustainability and environmental concerns
Sustainability is rising on the global agenda of priorities and impacting all industries. In addressing these challenges, the travel attractions industry can focus on reducing food waste, providing more sustainable food options, and improving recycling within hotels and theme parks.
Additionally, it is crucial to navigate evolving legislation around greenwashing, ensuring that marketing campaigns genuinely reflect sustainability efforts. Therefore, the awareness of the legal aspects and guidelines relevant to the targeted markets is key to avoid accusations of greenwashing.
Shifting challenging behaviour
Traveller behaviours are also evolving due to the global economic climate and generational shifts, particularly among Gen Z and millennials, who prioritise trips and experiences over luxury items.
According to the American Express Travel 2023 Global Travel Trends Report, 79 per cent of Gen Z and millennials view leisure travel as a crucial budget priority and 84 per cent prefer dream vacations over luxury purchases.
Additionally, the sustainability of the "workation" and "bleisure" trips comes into question, especially with more businesses urging a return to the office.
The importance of personalisation
The rise in local tourism means an opportunity to target local markets, allowing for hyper-local marketing and hyper-personalised targeting, traveller expectations are evolving and personalisation at every stage of the travel journey is taking top priority.
Whether it’s at the stage of dreaming of the perfect destination, customisable offers for bookings or the logistics of transport and accommodation, personalisation is a significant differentiator for consumers.
With ongoing economic challenges and budget cuts, marketing should not be neglected. Additionally, if safety, maintenance, and customer service team budgets are also reduced, the implications could be significant. Issues such as messy grounds, unchanged beds, and malfunctioning rides can lead to disappointing experiences and a damaged reputation, which takes considerable time to build but can be tarnished quickly. Cutting budgets in critical areas not only raises safety concerns but also creates more work for customer service and marketing teams striving to recover.
However, outsourcing certain operations can offer support from marketing automation experts to supplement existing teams, especially during budget constraints or when additional assistance is needed.