Volume I | Issue no. 1
Travel decisions are to a large extent driven by hedonistic and emotional issues. We know that if we can uncover a uniquely relevant and deliverable promise and communicate it using vivid mental imagery, we can successfully differentiate a destination from its competitors and convince more people to come. If the destination lives up to the consumer expectations our marketing creates, we have a great shot at getting them to tell others about their great experience, too.
So what do today’s travelers want from travel and destination marketers? Our recent research tells us it’s basically the same thing they’ve always been searching for — inspiration. Before Travelocity and Orbitz, they were inspired by the posters hanging on travel agency walls. They found inspiration in glossy brochures and on the pages of travel magazines, reading the New York Times travel section and watching high definition travel programming on cable television. Today, by contrast, a full two-thirds of people planning travel completely bypass these other media and consult only the internet.
And no wonder. There’s a multitude of online sources to look for travel information: email, search engines, destination, tourism and CVB sites, the sites of repackagers and discounters, consumer review sites, booking sites, Travel 2.0 sites like TravelMuse, blogs, social bookmarking and tagging sites, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Webshots, Ebay, MySpace, FaceBook, you get the idea. If you want travel information, it's on the internet.
The only problem is, now that they have the internet, they’re searching for inspiration in pull-down menus, online forms, radio buttons, and tag clouds. Instead of inspirational imagery and engaging stories, their first impressions are more often lackluster thumbnail photos alongside a low-price offer. Instead of finding inspiration, for many consumers today, the entire process of researching and planning a trip starts with finding the cheapest flight, hotel room and rental car available. They haven’t even decided what to buy, and someone’s trying to make a deal.