Guests lose confidence in classic forms of advertising
It is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to gain people’s attention and trust with classic advertising techniques, because advertising has lost credibility. Especially in tourism, the changing patterns in media usage as well as strong competitors are increasing pressure on destinations. Classic forms of advertising are no longer sufficient – user-generated content on the other hand is becoming more and more important. For tourism, this development represents a great opportunity, but at the same time an extreme challenge.
Word of mouth and user-generated content are becoming increasingly important
Studies that have investigated trust in different forms of advertising show that recommendations from acquaintances and online consumer ratings enjoy far more trust than traditional forms of advertising. According to a Statista survey conducted in Germany in 2017, 78% of respondents stated that they absolutely or definitely trust recommendations from acquaintances. As third place online consumer ratings were rated, which 55 % of respondents trust very much.
Other surveys also repeatedly confirm that ratings perceived by other users are more trustworthy than brand content: 95% of travelers say they trust ratings on third-party websites more than those on a provider’s website. The younger target group in particular shows that user-generated content has an incredible influence. 84% of Millenials and Generation Z confirm that Facebook posts from friends has had an influence and even changed their own holiday planning.
Companies have no direct influence on these particularly trustworthy forms of advertising. Platforms like Outdooractive see themselves as mediators: they bring the content from those who have it (our partner network) to those who need it (community). The high-quality content of official representatives (e.g. the DMO) is complemented by comments, ratings and recommendations from like-minded community members, which in turn creates trust.
If you want to be perceived as a strong brand today, you have to play on all channels and at the same time offer everything from a single source. This is the only way for users to determine which source they want to use to obtain information.
Word of mouth no longer works by writing postcards.
Word of mouth used to be completely different. Postcards were written and holiday photos were shared after the trip with friends. Today, digitization allows impressions to be disseminated from anywhere in the world via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp – and almost in real time. Sharing photos, videos and experiences on the net is nothing more than word of mouth among friends.
Through the exchange of experiences on platforms, blogs and social networks, potential guests have the opportunity to inform themselves about the experiences other travelers made with a destination, a travel provider or an accommodation and to get an idea of what is was like. This direct feedback of like-minded people has an enormous influence on the travel behavior of third parties.
Many destinations therefore actively engage in community management via various channels. This also includes inviting travel bloggers, YouTube vloggers and other influencers to report authentically on a region from a traveler’s point of view and thus inspire new people.
The result is a change in the way the travel industry reaches its target customers.
In the former analogue world, companies had the power. Suppliers talked, consumers listened and then bought. Today, customers buy, talk about it and influence other people in their actions. Attracting loyal customers who recommend the product, service or region to their friends and acquaintances becomes a success factor. Marketing experts should therefore see a purchase or a booking as the beginning of a long-term customer relationship. If the experiences meet all expectations or even exceed them, customers develop a feeling of affinity and are likely to become loyal brand ambassadors.
It is time to get to know your guests and their behavior digitally. Destinations must use their resources at the touch points where people actually spend their time – i.e. where the target group is on the Internet and where word of mouth and recommendations can be stimulated. Companies in the tourism industry therefore face the challenge of creating offers that surprise, arouse enthusiasm and emotions, because only then can they be shared. Sharing emotions is the keyword. Photos of dream beaches, a great mountain panorama or deck chairs on glittering powder snow awaken the desire to pack the suitcases.
By sharing information or experiences with third parties, the traveler becomes an inspiring source. At this point the customer journey is completed. For some, telling about and posting pictures of holiday activities is the follow-up to one’s own journey, for others it is an inspiration for the next.
The goal must be to focus on the guest using modern and future technologies. This makes content available exactly where the target group is on the net. The main task of destinations is to generate content. Content is distributed through databases such as Outdooractive, so that destinations can fully dedicate themselves to their guests.
Would you like to learn more about this topic?
At ITB 2019, the world’s leading trade fair for the international tourism industry, Hartmut Wimmer talks about increasing competition, declining trust in brands and the important role of digital guest communication.