Marketing in the Digital Age: How Can The Travel & Tourism Industry Keep Up?


Marketing has undergone incredible changes in the past decade, due majorly to new technology and the internet. Gone are the days of relying on printed ads and tv adverts to get your message out. Today, marketing is a hugely digital affair, and this change can be especially seen in the travel & tourism industry.

How Has Travel & Tourism Marketing Changed?

Many trends have come and gone in travel, with destinations getting hot and cooling off, and the seasons rolling on. It’s common knowledge that the digital age in no trend and has totally revolutionized the industry - it’s forecasted that digital sales in travel will amount to 693.91 billion U.S dollars in 2018.

Having a website and a social media presence come hand-in-hand with new age marketing. But it’s not enough to simply have a website and put up advertisements on the web - the entire nature of the industry has shifted.


Interruption marketing is the idea of stopping someone in what they’re doing (i.e watching TV, walking down the street) and giving them a message they didn’t ask for. This type of marketing is still alive, but more and more, and especially in travel - brands and pushing the envelope and getting into native and content marketing. That is - advertising that doesn’t feel like advertising anymore.

The Rise of Social Media and The Digital Age

Social Media is the new word-of-mouth, and nowadays people can’t wait to tell the whole world about their travel. For the industry as a whole, this is good news, and travel & tourism continues to grow (direct, indirect and induced) accounts for approximately 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016. What this indirectly means for marketers is that they are no longer in full control of the messages that get put into the media. The media has become “social” and democratized. put together this graphic to summarize just how widespread social media use during a vacation is.   

Social-media-use-during-vacation-700x693 (1).png
How can marketers get in on all this action? And how can they control the message?

#1. Working With Influencers

Influencers have a huge audience of fans who take their recommendations seriously, similar to a celebrity endorsement. Working with influencers helps brands to increase their exposure in raw numbers, but also in getting content out there in an organic way.

Examples of Influencer Marketing Done Right

Alaska Airlines – Alaska Airlines brings in influencers to tell their stories in various cities along the carrier’s routes. Each piece of content is fresh and accompanied by extraordinary visuals. Sometimes influencers take over Alaska’s Instagram account for a full immersive experience.


TripIt – A monthly #TripItChat hosted by top travel influencers, including Lee Abbamont and Matt Long, gives an interactive forum for learning how to optimize business and leisure travel. The format allows travelers to ask questions in real time and to find the answers they need to finalize their next trip.


#2. Live Video 


For marketers in the travel & tourism industry, breaking into live video is key. The streaming industry is huge, and it’s set to get even bigger. According to findings from Research and Markets, the video streaming market is on track to become a $70.5 billion industry by 2021.

Live streaming allows brands a chance to humanize and be authentic, rather than be seen through highly edited images. Travellers are looking for the real thing.

Hilton Hotels and Resorts was one of the first international tourism companies to use live-streaming for a major travel campaign in China. They offered free stays and restaurant deals by randomly drawing followers' names.

#3. Using Big Data

rt-3.pngBig data allows brands to tow the line between interruption marketing and content marketing. By having access to hundreds of points of customer data, brands can now deliver individualized offers and promotions at the very moment a customer may be looking for that service.

Brands like Expedia leverage Big Data in a real way to boost revenues from marketing by offering upsells and timely messages to customers.






Marketing As Education

Together with content marketing comes the idea that an educated customer is a better customer. Instead of sending price deals and barrages of ads, brands should look to alleviate customer pain points and provide customers the information they need to have an amazing travel experience. Coupled with entertaining content, marketing in the digital age has evolved into information sharing.

Looking to improve your digital skills? Get more information about our Digital Transformation In The Tourism Sector program. 



JSF Travel & Tourism School, 29 March 2018

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