The Future of Travel Marketing – Key Takeouts

November 7, 2023

The Future of Travel Marketing: Key Takeouts

​​With the travel industry in flux over the last few years, it’s been a challenging time for travel brands and advertisers. The editorial excellence at the heart of the World Media Group member brands is made possible by advertising, and many of those advertisers are targeting travellers – and particularly affluent travellers. In the lead-in to this year’s World Travel Market, we were keen to get a sense of what the Future of Travel Marketing holds for brands and advertisers and what’s driving consumer decision-making.

In a panel chaired by Samantha Adams, VP of advertising sales for BBC studios, we invited three travel experts – Heledd Owen, Director of Marketing, Tourism & Business at Cymru Wales / the Welsh Government; Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic Traveller magazine; and Max Askwith, Global Innovation Partner at Dentsu International – to share the facts and stats that travel marketers need to take note of. We highly recommend watching the full discussion above, but here are some of the key takeouts:

  1. Revenge travel: seize the day

Dentsu’s global consumer survey, based on a sample of 420k people in 70 countries around the world, shows there’s a stabilisation of demand for domestic vs international travel globally meaning we’re back to pre-pandemic levels. Max Askwith talked about the rise in ‘revenge travel’ – people making up for lost time – as well as an increase in work-cations – trips that combine travel with work.

NatGeo Traveller’s Pat Riddell described how pent-up demand has transformed into a ‘seize the day’ attitude towards treating oneself with a focus on experiences – the more unique the better. Trips that might have been considered ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ are now once-every-few-years.

  1. Emotions more powerful than facts

There’s been a significant shift with people saying they lean more towards feelings than facts when choosing a holiday. This is good news for marketers who can be more ambitious and embrace longer formats, videos and personal stories to connect on a human level. So where are people going? Sierra Leone and Madagascar are listed on National Geographic Traveller’s ‘Cool List 2024’, as is Wales!

  1. A rise in responsible tourism

As more countries who are at risk from climate change and biodiversity loss are limiting their intake of tourists, we’ll see travellers starting to take an active part in regeneration schemes to put less of a strain on destinations.

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about who they spend their money with, and we’re likely to see more platforms that allow travellers to filter and compare destinations based on their regenerative and community values. We’re also seeing an increase in demand for more sustainable forms of travel such as rail, reflected by the recent Eurostar-Thalys merger, connecting France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK through one network; and Amtrak’s investment in the US. Luxury rail travel is also a burgeoning market.

  1. Members-only travel experiences

As data and technology becomes more advanced, we’re likely to see a proliferation of members-only travel services to cater to the specific needs of smaller subsets of consumer segments and identities, allowing for more hyper-personalised propositions and benefits. Technology will be used to provide efficiencies in processes and we’re likely to see more chat bots filling basic travel needs such as Concierge services. However human interaction remains important to traveller and expertise will still be required to for skilled services – having the top sommelier talking to guests in real-life, for example.

  1. The future is entertaining

What does the future of travel marketing look like? Marketers are increasingly tapping into the power of entertainment to tell interesting stories, as demonstrated by Heledd Owen’s Grand Prix award-winning ‘Wales to the World’ campaign. According to our experts, we can expect to see more bespoke marketing messages for different, niche strands – for example, dogs are a hugely segment for travel marketers to consider! Who knew?

Trends show that consumers have greater expectations from the companies their dealing with. That includes a desire for responsible marketing that supports the local communities in the locations that are being advertised.

And how long will it be until we’re all going to space for our holidays? There’s talk of supersonic planes to cut down the flight times to Australia and the first space hotel is slated to open in 2025. Meanwhile, commercial space travel is already happening – companies like Space Perspective are offering journeys to the edge of space, but their angle is less about space being the ‘destination’ and more about seeing Earth from space and it being the spark for positively changing the world on your return.

From what we’ve heard from our experts, the future of travel marketing looks exciting. It’s a far cry from the doom and gloom of the Covid years, with plenty of opportunity for travel marketers to get creative. But the perhaps the legacy of the pandemic is that, rather than travel being a strain on the environment, clever marketing campaigns can help consumers to make travel choices that make the world a better place.