5 Take-Aways from WTM 2014

5 Take-Aways from WTM 2014

It’s the week after WTM in London, one of the world’s biggest travel and tourism shows. The show is four days of non-stop meetings and presentations, sharing and learning, introductions and connections with travel leaders driving the tourism industry worldwide. It’s one of our favorite international shows because we get to meet face-to-face with people that we only see when our paths cross at these major conferences. Now, as we think back about the spectacle that is WTM, here are the top 5 take-aways that caught our attention.

  1. Quest for What’s Next from Big Data. It’s clear that there is a real range of sophistication for the travel industry on the big data front. Some even suggesting big data is a new topic this year. The truth is that we’ve evolved enough that the industry is asking for the next step. The “what now.” They want to know how the data can help them take action to gain share, win more customers and grow revenue. Travel companies don’t necessarily want to understand all the details behind the data (some do — some will always want to), they just want to know how big data solutions will help them make the next steps. In our case, we tell them about what we’re doing with our nGenius partners, a collaboration of leading digital marketing companies that help our clients take the next step. (Watch here for more on nGenius.)
  2. Global Rise of the MAMIL, “Middle Aged Men in Lycra” demographic.
    Brings a range of imagery to mind. But the truth is, Cycling is the new golf. It’s beginning to rival golf as the leisure time sport for the affluent middle age consumer, which is expected to have an impact on tourism. In 2013, there were 35 million cycling participants and just under 20 million golfers according to the National Sporting Goods Association. The growing consumer interest in fitness and experiential travel is likely to boost cycling tourism, which delivers an active holiday that appeals to Generation X and Boomers.
  3. Beyond City Tourism. Some city destinations have seen the rise of anti-tourism. Some residents are concerned that their neighborhoods are being overrun by tourists, changing the character of local areas beyond recognition with too much housing specified for holiday accommodation. The most talked about case today is Barcelona. This situation could certainly have an impact on the local tourism industry. We have seen several markets respond with goals of developing tourism outside traditional cities and coasts. Many destinations that we spoke to plan to grow travel beyond their standard tourist destinations, building interest in second tier cities, the countryside and alternative locations. It’s a goal that has benefits across the board – expanding the market, proactively responding to market changes and offering travelers great new experiences.
  4. Disruptive tools (or applications) bring us together. Big data analytics, peer-to-peer services and hotel “braggies” are among the fastest growing trends in travel. The common thread here is that they are all offer some way of bringing personalization to travel experience. It seems that the most successful travel technologies, tools, or companies for that matter, are being built around the concept of bringing people together or appealing to them in a personal way with travel. We see it in the “disruptive” or hot topics at WTM this year:
    • Big data analytics – helps identify travelers’ wants and needs so travel companies can anticipate them. This is how nSight help hotels and destinations by providing travel consumer insights. Our online shopping and booking data enables travel companies to know where, how and to whom to market to capture active shoppers online.
    • Peer-to-peer service – offers local services from in-market people like you, from a place to sleep or even a meal. Eatwith.com, eat-with-locals.com and Bookalokal.com are examples of these sites that are popping up all over, promising authentic experiences and cost-effective alternatives.
    • Hotel “braggies” – allow travelers to get rewards for sharing and tagging hotel photos. (Most people post a photo within 10 minutes of checking into their hotel!)
  5. Wearable technology goes mainstream? Always connected consumers are getting use to the thought of wearing their technology, not just putting in their pocket. Wide adoption of the FitBit Fitness Wristband has gotten consumers into wearing and using streamlined technology that is cool and not geeky. The wrist is likely more subtle and adoptable than something on your face, eh? These technologies are more conducive to shorter communications so are aligned with the prediction that instant message will be the hot method for customer service engagement in travel, surpassing social media. The implication for travel is moving to communicating throughout the trip, not just before and how to incorporate the technology in the CRM strategy. Travel companies need to embrace wearable electronics as part of their strategies targeting always-connected consumers in order to deliver to service expectations and not to lose share to competitors.

 

Thank you to Euromonitor International’s Global Trends Report 2014 highlights from WTM for some of the details and statistics above.