ATM 2024: Experts says video content is key to engaging Gen Z travellers

ATM 2024: Experts says video content is key to engaging Gen Z travellers

Destinations are going viral overnight, according to TikTok’s MENA rep

Brief yet powerful content can significantly influence the travel decisions of Gen Z, according to the MENA region’s TikTok lead.

The sentiment was shared during this week’s Arabian Travel Market session on ‘How To Build Influence with Gen Z in Just 30 Seconds’.

TikTok’s Marc-Antoine Simon, Industry Manager, Travel and Tourism – MENA shared insights on the latest trends in community-led marketing.

“Travellers need a search platform that offers fast results with visual content that is mobile and community-led,” he said. 

“By creating their own platform, they have eliminated major barriers to travel that once hindered the pre-booking journey, and these communities are making destinations viral overnight.”

According to research commissioned by Exodus Travels in 2023, respondents said that just 45 percent of vacations lived up to or exceeded the perfect picture they had imagined. 

And on average, it showed that travellers search through 38 different travel sites to figure out where to go, how to get there and where to book, with 58 percent admitting to abandoning a booking because the process has been too stressful.

“Travel is one of the most sought-after pursuits in people’s lives, so much so that they would sacrifice just about anything to get away. Unfortunately, the high likelihood of a trip leading to unwanted disappointment is why, ahead of a trip, people go the extra mile to ensure that the reward is maximised and the risk is neutralised,” Mr Simon, pictured, explained.

Further to this, he said that the desire to take control of the search experience sees travellers swapping keywords for human words, queries for communities and information for immersion. 

This allows them to discover, on their terms, and transform a daunting endeavour into an enjoyable journey, proving that travel is at the cusp of a new search era fuelled by people.

He used Albania as an example of the power of user-generated content. A country often overlooked as a tourist destination, in 2022, it suddenly gained popularity thanks to an influx of videos showcasing its tourism attributes. 

The impact was significant, with Skyscanner reporting a 44 percent increase in flight searches to Albania from the UK, and searches from the US also seeing a significant uptick.

The expert panel included other notable figures, including Joshua Roche, CEO of Bulla Connect Ltd; Keith Herman, CEO of Trending Travel; and His Excellency Harris Whitbeck, Minister of Tourism Board of Guatemala. 

The discussion focused on social media's pivotal role in influencing Gen Z's travel decisions and how these platforms can be leveraged to convert interest into tangible tourist engagements.

During the session, H.E. Whitbeck highlighted Guatemala's successful strategies for attracting Gen Z tourists, with a special emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives that align with their values.

“Gen Z is a massive market for Guatemala, being highly educated and curious. With 78 million people using TikTok in Latin America, marketing the destination becomes a blank slate. 

“However, while community-led coverage from TikTok is welcome, Guatemala would prefer visitors who have a lower impact on our resources. To achieve this, we would need to leverage tools such as AI and Big Data to tailor our messaging to the right audience,” he explained.