The Current

Thoughts on industry trends from your BVK friends.

As travelers plan further in advance, brands must inspire travel dreams

August 2, 2017  |  Victoria Simmons

Travel & Tourism

We often refer to “bucket list” travel as a list of far-flung destinations that we hope to one day experience. But now more than ever, many families are turning those hopes into reality by developing long-range travel plans. Just as you might develop a strategic roadmap for a company or organization, families are coming together to create long-range travel goals with savings plans to back them up.

Families are realizing the need to manage vacation time just as they would work and school calendars, soccer schedules and doctors’ appointments. The unfortunate reality is that as children get older, and schedules become more demanding, families will have less opportunities to travel together. This trend of long-range planning affects families and multi-generational groups the most, but travel agents are seeing it across all sectors of the industry—including empty-nesters who want to spend wisely and plan based on health and fitness levels.

A recent article in The New York Times titled, “Want family travel to really count, make a plan,” cites multiple benefits to planning ahead. Simply put, having a plan means there is a greater chance of accomplishing travel goals. Specifically:

Part of me hopes this welcome trend is a product of the US Travel Association’s (USTA) Project Time Off initiative that for many years now has been urging Americans to make an annual plan to use all their given vacation days. Project Time Off is helping tell the story of the value of time off by changing the thinking and behavior of Americans about their vacation time. And their efforts seem to be paying off. According to the latest report, The State of American Vacation 2017, Americans are using more vacation time after more than a decade of decline. Workers took an average of 16.8 days of vacation in 2016, up from 16.2 in 2015.

While this type of long-range planning will ultimately spur more frequent and longer trips, it does pose challenges for the tourism industry in terms of directly linking today’s marketing dollars to trips that may not come to fruition for several years. In today’s digital and highly measurable world, the pressure to show direct accountability for marketing spend can be daunting, particularly for destination marketing organizations who are charged with influencing destination decisions and are not owners of the actual product in terms of purchased room nights, ticket sales, etc.

To explore the impact of dreaming on the travel decision making process, including long-range travel planning, and the role inspiration plays in this, BVK conducted a multi-phase primary research study.  The findings were eye-opening in terms of the percentage of consumers and frequency in which they think, plan and dream throughout the entire vacation planning lifecycle.  Yet, surprisingly consumers feel that travel brands do little to inspire these moments.

As travelers begin to develop these long-range plans, one thing is clear: it’s now more critical than ever to successfully inspire consumers’ travel dreams so that your brand, destination, hotel, etc., is directly linked with a consumer’s travel goals and aspirations.

Like any other dream or goal in life, travel requires forethought and planning followed-up with the determination to see the plan come to fruition. It’s how athletes win races. How savvy investors make money. They first focus and narrow their dream. They set parameters, assess where they are in the process, determine where they want to be and track their progress while making adjustments as necessary. As travel marketers, we must ensure our brands are relevant, inspiring and have something critical to offer travelers throughout this process.

To educate travel brand marketers on our findings, BVK has created a thought leadership presentation, The Power of the Inspiration Factor.  Learn more about the role and impact of travel inspiration throughout the entire consumer decision making process, and how to successfully leverage and infuse inspiration into your travel brand communications. — Click download below to get this free Executive Summary.

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