Are PR and Marketing Ready for Neo-Tribalism? 8 Travel & Lifestyle Trends in a Social Media World
By Karen Weiner Escalera President and Chief Strategist KWE Partners
As leaders in the luxury travel, hospitality and real estate industries, our firm and team members enjoy considerable access to the latest consumer-related marketing studies impacting these sectors. We highlight the best of these findings, the latest travel industry analysis and forecasts through our internationally syndicated Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Trends newsletter and blog. Here is a recap of some of the most recent trends we’ve seen in the space … and what they mean to marketers and PR pros in general:
1. Mega trend: Neo-Tribalism.
Identified by Futurist Watts Wacker as the fracturing of communities into smaller groups, neo – tribalism is the desire to seek out others with shared interests, sensibilities and passions. Networks of new “tribes” are ever easier to find and create thanks to the evolution of social media.
What does this mean for marketers? While demographics (who buys) are still an effective tool, it’s giving way to psychographic marketing (why they buy) which plays a key role in creating more specific, micro-niche markets to reach ideal clients. Mature industries, such as travel and lifestyle have led the way. Fitness? Big niche. But a micro niche of that niche would be fitness for golfers. Hot niche markets now are kids, Gen Y, men’s wellness and pampering, and hyper-luxury goods.
2. Hunt for Value: Entertain and Engage
The search for value became a necessity borne from a weak economy, combined with the status symbol of being a smart consumer. Now it’s about the search itself: deal hunting for amusement. Look for more gamification marketing to create brand awareness, drive user engagement and build brand loyalty. Mayorships, scavenger hunts and mystery trips all add elements of excitement and engagement to a buying experience.
3. Lifestyle Immersion, New Experiences
Since 2008, the majority of consumers had to tighten their belts, but in the process, they discovered they could live without so much “stuff.” So when they do venture out to buy, they want a retail experience, an outing that’s about more than a purchase. Alfred Dunhill’s new store in London, is a 3 story “home” that offers shopping, dining and grooming, plus a movie viewing room and old-fashioned men’s club. Hotels are ratcheting up offerings that entertain, educate and transform for special interest groups. From learning holidays that go beyond the usual cooking schools, to interior design schools, wedding planners academy; to lifestyle hotels that appeal to everyone from foodies (the Food Hotel) to divorcees (the Divorce Hotel) and babymooners (Casa Velas).
4. Authenticity, Localism
Tuned in travelers desire authentic experiences; the chance to interact in local neighborhoods by living, eating and paying local, non-tourist prices. It’s about uniqueness and escaping homogeneity. Prior to and during their stay, hotel guests look to the hotel’s social media channels for this hyper- localized, insider information. “Localism” is the new moniker, not only in travel but also in food. We’ve seen the boom in local produce, farm to table menus and farmers markets. What’s next? DIY foraging for your dinner even at the priciest restaurants.
5. A Renter Economy
A growing trend over the last few years is the desire for less responsibility and reluctance to commit large sums of money, but consumers still want to collect as many experiences as possible. We saw significant growth and development of fractional ownership in everything from real estate to jets, even olive groves. And it’s evolving to peer-to-peer renting between consumers: everything from homes and fashion, to jets, cars and parking spaces.
6. Crowdsourcing, Crowdpleasing
“We’re living in a Karaoke world,” said cultural gadfly Malcolm McLaren, meaning that everyone wants to be a star. Retailers are tapping into consumers’ creativity and inspiration to create and market products – baby shoes, wallpaper, fabrics, and more. In marketing, the city of Detroit had its citizens choose the winning ad campaign and most recently, the Swedish Tourist Board launched a highly innovative, out there campaign where citizens are taking turns as the official tweeter of the brand. One of the more exciting trends in travel: hotels giving guests the opportunity to customize aspects of their hotel experience, not just with a choice of pillow or mattress, but choose artwork, color and lighting.
Expect this trend to boom as social referrals (recommendations from social communities) become increasingly important to generate new customers and sales. Once considered by many as risky business, Websites allowing online reviews are now a necessity, which means careful monitoring and instant responses to reviews and referral sites.
7. Family and Friends Are a Priority
A lot has been written about family travel since it has consistently been one of the fastest growth areas since 9/11, fueled by a backlash dominated by 24/7 work schedules and dehumanizing technology. Since then, this mature category has given way to subsets such as gay/lesbian parents, single parents, father/son and mother/daughter trips, grandparents, multi-cultural families, and more. Then, there’s the whole divorce market. With over 50% of the marriages in the US ending in divorce, think about the potential. Anything that helps foster friendships is a growing market – from ladies nights at top restaurants and communal dining tables to girlfriend getaways and lobbies that foster social interaction will continue to be much in demand.
8. Mobile Apps Transform the Travel/Lifestyle Industries
As the smartphone market grows, so too do the apps you can use on them. Apps play a major role in complementing a brand marketing strategy: they extend a brand’s personality; provide real-time service; saves consumers time; improves the customer experience before, during and post- purchase; help drive ancillary revenues while also reducing operating costs through self- service.
Almost all airlines today have mobile booking and check-in capability. Gucci’s “Little Black Book” brings the brand’s personality to life by showing users the Gucci lifestyle with recommendations for restaurants and bars in dozens of cities. Hotels such as St. Regis’ E-butler app helps guests interact with staff butlers and concierges; and Four Seasons just reported that five times more bookings come from tablets than from their website.
For over 30 years, first in New York City and now in Miami, KWE Partners has been an award-winning strategic marketing and public relations firm that specializes in luxury travel, lifestyle and real estate. As thought leaders in the travel industry, we go to great lengths to identify emerging trends so clients can benefit from changes in the marketplace. We deliver the latest travel industry analysis and forecasts through our internationally syndicated Luxury Travel & Lifestyle Trends newsletter and blog. Agency President & Chief Strategist, Karen Weiner Escalera is a sought after speaker, one of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) “Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds” in hotel sales and marketing and is a member of the Luxury marketing Council’s International Advisory Board.
Published: July 16, 2012 By: