Videos and UGC Dominate, Smartphones and Apps Get Smarter, while Millennials Open Up New Market Segments

2018 welcomed many trends for destination marketing organizations; some of these trends continued movements from previous years, such as the rise of video and user-generated content (UGC), while newer ones like bleisure travel, sustainable tourism and experiential travel broadened customer segments and interests. Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing in our day and age, powerful statistics back up the trends on this list, giving food for thought on how to run a successful destination marketing strategy in our current era.

Recapping some of our more popular posts from this past year, we’ve compiled a quick review of what DMOs were interested in during 2018, giving a glimpse into what 2019 might herald.


Video Remains Strong in a Wide Array of Formats

For years, video has been at the forefront of digital content. According to SmallBizTrends by 2019, global consumer Internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic, while other studies have shown that social videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined. It’s no wonder then, that 76% of marketers say that video helps them increase sales, according to Hubspot.

In the destination marketing industry, in particular, video highlights the beauty of a destination while conveying the visitor ‘experience’ in a way that is statistically more engaging. Many newer formats like VR, drone footage and live streaming are paving the way for even more engaging video content, literally immersing travelers in the experience. While newer video technology, like VR, is still nascent, many predict that it will become mainstream over the next decade, spurring many DMOs to get ahead of the game and adopt the technology now.


Smart Phone Technology and Apps Evolve, Changing the Way DMOs Market

Smartphone technology has come a long way since the introduction of the first iPhone. For starters, the photo and video quality you can get from smartphones today is good enough to use in marketing materials ranging from social media posts and vlogs to high-profile print ads (something iPhone has been touting with their ‘shot on iPhone’ campaigns for a few years now).

What’s significant about the improvements to smartphone technology, however, is the fact that it enables marketers to cater to mobile consumers and travelers who are rapidly dominating the market. In 2018 alone, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, according to statistics, and this trend is only expected to increase in the coming years, spurring many DMOs to make content that is mobile-friendly.

For instance, Instagram and Instagram influencers are now common marketing assets for most organizations, while the newly launched IGTV is ushering in a new wave of mobile-based video content for the masses. Moreover, there are now endless smartphone photo and video apps that produce high-caliber content, while the structure of many marketing departments is evolving to include mobile-experts for social media, mobile site design and beyond.


Authentic Content and UGC Expand

Authenticity has been a big buzzword over the past few years. It refers to content that isn’t heavily re-worked by marketing, transparent in its delivery and focus, and geared towards reality rather than glossy, overdone glamour.

There was a time when the common consumer loved looking at richly embellished materials for tourism, but with the rise of social media and review sites, modern-day travellers are able to see the realistic side of a destination as well. This has changed the appeal of a destination to include UGC, realistic photos and videos, and language that is less produced and more conversational.

Apps like Instagram have also spawned and an endless stream of authentic and UGC content that many DMOs are using to their advantage, either by utilizing this content as authentic reviews, social media promotion or influencer marketing.

Technology also is keeping pace with the UGC trend, welcoming an array of UGC content management systems that make the permission requests, curation and organizational elements of easier.


Bleisure, Sustainable and Experiential Travel Exemplify a Consumer Shift

It’s no secret: Millennials will be the largest demographic of consumers in the world next year (they are expected to overtake Boomers in population in 2019). Their needs and demands are vastly different from their predecessors, and these differences are affecting all industries, including the travel industry. In particular, millennials crave authenticity and experiences, and this has driven a new segment of travel that focuses on living like a local or finding unique activities that go beyond the traditional group tour and famed landmarks. Rather than going to the most iconic fine dining restaurants in a city, many are choosing to find the best hole-in-the-wall eateries or taco trucks that earn rave reviews on social media: This is ‘experiential travel.’

Make no mistake though: while millennials want to experience a destination, that doesn’t mean they don’t also like to spend wisely. This has affected how they travel for work, or how they blend leisure and business travel (bleisure travel). Studies have found that millennials are more likely to partake in bleisure than some of their older colleagues, linking their desire to experience the world or a destination with a cost-effective approach of tacking on a few extra days to a business trip or inviting family along to make the most of a journey (and to save some money). A new segment for DMOs, bleisure travellers open up a whole new array of opportunities for travel, tourism and hospitality marketers.

Millennials also care about their environmental impact. 73% of them are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, while 81% of them even expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship. This is changing the destinations they choose to see, and also the providers they use to see them. For instance, many millennial travelers want to see destinations that are under the threat of disappearing, like the Great Barrier Reef, or Angkor Wat, while at the same time, they are choosing travel companies, hotels and tour businesses that are eco-conscious, run by locals, or that give back to the community.