From hotel management to automation features, the tourism industry is changing rapidly. Yet, these new digital travel trends 2021 impact industries beyond tourism. More and more vacationers find themselves shopping or connecting with brands in new ways throughout their travels.
In this article, Tenba Group, the Chinese digital marketing agency of your choice, presents the top seven online travel trends 2021 – from the point of travel service providers and tour operators – you should know about. This includes how to market to Chinese tourists!
- Online Blogs & Forums
- Working with Influencers
- Automation Features
- Payment via Mobile Phones
- Unique Experiences and Intrepid Journeys
- Live Streaming
Travel and tourism: Discover how your business can keep up with the latest digitalization and marketing strategies. Meet the future of travel!
1. Online Blogs & Forums
These days, travelers aren’t just going to more places. They are also expanding their options to trip planning resources. Traditional travel agencies rely on human interaction. Interested travelers can call, visit websites, or stop by in person to browse through pre-arranged travel packages. Several of these customers might ask for a travel agent to build a trip customized to preferences and budget.
Companies like Groupon and LivingSocial were some of the first companies in 2007 to mass-market travel packages. This allowed cheaper rates for customers willing to travel during pre-selected dates and under predefined travel terms.
Since then, traditional travel agencies had to build a trustworthy and modern online presence to compete. Besides, new businesses like TripAdvisor and Expedia have emerged, serving as travel experts. They give travelers the power to make their own travel arrangements.
In fact, 1,000 American travelers, 66% said they would pay to use a travel agent’s services if the cost was lower. As a result, many travelers research and find the information they need online. Besides, they rely on the recommendation and advice of other travelers in forums and blogs.
Hence, if you want to promote your products and services to vacationers, being active in travel forums, and having your own travel-related blog is an important first step.
2. Working with Influencers
More recently, bloggers and entrepreneurial social media influencers have also joined the travel industry. They have invented a business model around recommending everything around travel.
Holidaymakers who lack time, passion, or inspiration to sort through the abundance of travel-related information online, appreciate the content of influencers. They drive their audiences to new travel destinations, tourist products, and ways of exploring culture and businesses.
They cater to their followers’ desire to have a trusted face on lifestyle experiences and products instead of following generic advertising campaigns.
3. Automation Features
The digital travel trends 2021 don’t just stop at the departure. A growing number of tourists also book information on mobile apps. This cuts the need to print boarding passes or stand in line for check-in.
One of the newest air travel trends is the use of recognition technology. By now, many airports provide e-Gates for immigration. People can simply swipe their residency cards or passports. Then, they step into an automated stall, give a fingerprint, and take a picture.
This opens the gate and allows the traveler to enter the country. As a result, the process for regular travelers who have to speak with an immigration officer is quicker.
At their destination, holidaymakers can choose accommodations with digital features. For example, digital room keys that can be accessed from a smartphone are quick, easy, and safe. For added safety, some accommodations may use facial or fingerprint recognition technology.
More and more accommodations are offering Internet of Things (IoT) technology. This basically connects everyday objects to the internet. For instance, a guest is able to control the lights or AC in the room through his or her smartphone.
Some hotels use apps to allow their guests to book spas or order room service. The IoT and mobile app integration provide guests with more independence and flexibility. They can remotely monitor and control their environment and modify their travel plans.
To sum it up, hospitality and hotel management are transforming the ways in which they provide customer service to their guests.
4. Payment via Mobile Phones
The rise of e commerce has pushed many businesses to recognize a move towards cashless societies. In fact, by 2021, 79% of smartphone users in China are expected to use digital payment systems. Already today, 577 million Chinese consumers use AliPay and WeChat Pay.
These mobile payments systems use QR code technology to link to a consumer’s WeChat Pay or AliPay wallet. Already today, Chinese customers use this technology while traveling. This way, they don’t have to carry large amounts of foreign currency with them.
For example, the Dubai Mall allows Chinese visitors to use AliPay for their purchases. Moreover, some airports like the Munich Airport accept AliPay and WeChat Pay to pay for tickets. Both of these payment systems support tax refunds in about 80 airports worldwide. Today, travelers can pay with AliPay and WeChat Pay in 40 countries around the world.
5. Unique Experiences and Intrepid Journeys
More and more vacationers are looking for personalized and unique experiences. They wish to experience travel beyond the normal scope of tourism.
In fact, many young adults are opting for intrepid journeys or around-the-world travels for longer periods of time beyond regular vacation time. Whether coffee culture or organic farming is the traveler’s focal point, the internet connects travelers and locals.
In particular, social media platforms are suitable for digital marketing strategies. They allow individuals and businesses to promote their own content tailormade to their target audience.
Moreover, these new ways of traveling and connecting with the globe also apply to families and business professionals. For example, co-working and co-living spaces around the world bring short-term and long-term travelers together as a community.
While most travelers will not work on vacations, more people are switching to remote jobs that they can also do while traveling. This has given rise to the idea of “digital nomads”, combining working with world travel.
Whether in the bustle of city centers or down a sleepy beach street, more spaces are popping up to facilitate vacationers with a desire to co-work with others, including great Wi Fi connections. These spaces often host events and promote themselves through social media platforms or mobile phone apps.
Besides, the emergence of digital technology has also reinvented the idea that families cannot travel for longer periods of time. Family vacations during school break seem to be a thing of the past. Technological advances grant families the power to choose nomadic family learning travels if they like.
Terms like “unschooling” and “edventure” underline the power of digital technology. They allow families to travel and educate their children at the same time. Family gap years are becoming increasingly popular. At the same time, many families document their experiences using social media platforms. New travel agents are surfacing to support this new travel trend, often in the form of road trips.
Around the world, these digital assets are on the rise. In fact, the global blockchain market is expected to grow to 60 billion USD by 2024. At the same time, global spending on blockchain tech is expected to grow to almost 16 billion USD by 2023.
In the meantime, cryptocurrency has also arrived in the travel industry. For example, Travala was only founded in 2017. Today, it has already become the world’s leading blockchain-based travel booking platform. Thousands of customers worldwide choose it as their preferred online travel agency.
The demand for their native cryptocurrency, the AVA Token (BEP-2 token standard), is expected to grow in line with platform expansion.
7. Live Streaming
Broadcasting directly from an event or special location is a growing online trend. Now, live streaming is also transforming the digital travel industry.
Vacationers don’t have to sit down and write forum posts or reviews of their trips, the hotels, and events they attended. They also don’t have to upload photos anymore.
Instead, they can show everything they want to their friends, family, and strangers through a live stream. They also can boast about their visit to a particularly exquisite restaurant, hotel, or experience. This especially appeals to China’s emerging middle class.
Bonus: How to Market to Chinese Tourists
Chinese social media platforms, led by WeChat and Weibo social networks, are THE method of choice to attract Chinese tourists.
A few things to keep in mind are the cultural specialties of the Chinese market, the Chinese calendar (which is different from the Western including special holidays). Besides, remember to focus on building trust – Chinese people are literally bombarded with information and advertising.
You will have to stand out to attract more Chinese holidaymakers. Social media marketing on Weibo on WeChat, the main social platforms in China, offer great functions to create experiences around international and Chinese tourism. Influencers will help you to target Chinese tourists.
Besides providing relevant content, ensure that Chinese search engines (Baidu, Sogou) rank your products and services well. Use SEO and PCC as well as technical optimization of your Chinese website to do so. These are the most important aspects of marketing in China.
The Takeaway – Digital Travel Trends 2021
Not only are travelers changing how they plan their journeys, but also the ways in which they choose to travel. Businesses that adjust to the new preferences of their clients have a head start over their competition.
Having an online presence is more important than ever. These digital travel trends 2021 highlight the significance of digitalization and digital marketing strategies around the world – for targeting the Chinese and international tourism market.
Travel in 2021: As the Corona virus is changing our world forever, many travel aspects are changing compared to pre pandemic. However, digitalization is unstoppable and the above trends continue with energy and impact. If anything, Covid-19 is magnifying existing issues, many of which can be overcome with digitization. Travel restrictions hopefully continue to be lifted thanks to Covid-19 testing, vaccinations, hygiene concepts, and social distancing.
Contact Tenba Group today to skyrocket your business! Learn more about marketing and e commerce in China, and digitalization in our blog. For example, we reveal the top 4 advantages of relocating abroad with your business, for instance to China to enter this specific market.
PS: If you are a short-term rental owner outside of China, click here to discover 6 ways to get Chinese travellers on Airbnb & Co.