5 Predictions for the Near Future of Destination Marketing

Technology continues to evolve at an accelerated pace and over the last decade, has become intricately woven with the growth and development of the marketing industry. In fact, within five years, technology is predicted to become “a part of the core fabric of marketing itself”.

Nowhere is this truer than in the travel and tourism sector, which is often the first adopter of emerging technology. This is due to one simple reason – their audience wants ‘new’. Travelers, by nature, seek the unknown, embrace new discovery and look for surprises around each vacation corner. In order to appeal to their adventurous demographics, travel brands must also embrace the new and experimental when it comes to marketing.

Cutting-edge technologies that enable new methods of marketing to deliver a better destination experience is a critical opportunity. This is why our multi-disciplinary strategists here at The Atkins Group, closely study both human behavior and emerging technology to deliver game-changing marketing solutions.

The evolution of marketing practices is inevitable and our team is already seeing huge technological potential in the near-future of Destination Marketing…

Our Top Five Technology Predictions for Destination Marketing

1. Biometric measurement is the chief of truth

We’re all familiar with how FitBits, Apple Watches, and similar wearables measure our steps and heart rate through a variety of tiny sensors. Now, what is especially exciting to marketing strategists, is the imminent opportunity to apply this technology to brand promotion campaigns and sales funnels.

Biometric measurement becomes possible when we link physical changes, such as an elevated pulse, to excitement and satisfaction. In the near future, this sensor technology will become the gold standard for measuring emotional response. No longer will we have to ask consumers “how did you feel?” – an algorithm will have already told us.

The minuscule sensors embedded in glasses, watches, jewelry and soon, smart clothing will read people’s biological responses when purchasing (or not) and using (or not) a brand’s product and services.

And if you think the wearables with these sensors are just a fad, consider this – those in the know are predicting a 500% growth in five years

2. Mobile undoubtedly becomes the center of marketing

Soon the often repeat understatement ‘Mobile First’ will be a forgotten and the idea of designing or delivering anything on something other than a mobile device first and foremost will be sacrilege.

Mobile is going to become the center of marketing. From smartphones, tablets and wearable devices, the evolution of mobile is one of the key factors influencing the marketing world. As the focus moves to smaller screens, brands will be able to strike up a more personalized relationship with their consumers by leveraging the power of mobile as a central marketing platform.

And the big companies are already ahead of this. Tressie Lieberman, Vice President of Digital Innovation and On Demand at Taco Bell, recently said: “We view mobile as our flagship restaurant; more than a transaction, but a tailored and customized experience that’s tied to preference and access from anywhere at any time.”

With the goal of making mobile the center of their marketing plans, we’ll see brands marketing destination-based products by choosing to produce short, ‘snackable’ content. Also known as ‘Glanceable Marketing,’ this content must be extraordinarily relevant and valuable to its reader and must also be fully consumed in less than two seconds.

3. Mobile payments change everything

While mobile payments may seem like just another way to accept money (much like checks and credit cards), we see integrations coming that aren’t available with other forms of payment. As a mobile payment occurs, imagine combining GPS technology with Social/CRM data and anonymous purchase information. This adds a layer of real-time consumer intent to the marketing formula, enabling brands to deliver more immediate and relevant recommendations and offers, each one specifically tailored for the individual.

Here’s an example:

On a busy weekend morning, a consumer passes a coffee shop and a convenience store. Historical thinking would suggest there’s a high likelihood that she will want to stop for a morning coffee; however, GPS, social CRM data and mobile purchase history demonstrate the following:

  • ‍She hasn’t entered a coffee shop in the last 90 days,
  • She’s a fan of Monster Energy drinks on Facebook,
  • She regularly shops at 7-11 convenience stores.

In this scenario, the opportunity for a conversion (a sale in this example) is much higher if we send an offer to her Apple Watch for a discount on energy drinks just as she approaches the convenience store.

In the travel industry, brands can send special deals based on the weather a consumer is currently experiencing. If they’re stuck in traffic while the rain pours down, a well-timed discount for a package holiday may have them checking their calendars for the nearest free week and increase the company’s chance of converting.

Overlaying mobile payment data with GPS and Social/CRM data creates the foundation for an extremely personalized loyalty program that is location-aware and with wearables, delivered all while your phone remains in your pocket.

4. Messaging & Chat become the next big Marketing platform

Five years ago, Tencent, the Chinese Internet giant, launched WeChat, a smartphone app where people could send each other free messages. Five years later, WeChat’s hundreds of millions of users in China use the app to buy clothes, send money to friends and even book an appointment with their doctor. WeChat effectively created the baseline for messaging as a marketing and commerce platform.

Facebook is following the example and recent statistics show that Messenger, Facebook’s standalone messaging platform, has over 1 billion users.  Experts predict that messaging platforms will become “the Center of online activity,” replacing the 1-800 number and most other forms of digital communication. As The Economist points out:

“The time users are spending on messaging services has encouraged investors to value them highly…”

In 2016, Facebook launched Messenger Bots, which enable brands to design algorithmic-based interactions whereby consumers can pose questions, request information and literally chat with intelligent bots. These ‘chatbots’ can be integrated with third-party apps to enable database-driven queries and responses. Here are some of the best bot examples as of this writing:

  • 1-800-Flowers - enables seamless product selection and purchase.
  • Expedia.com - allows consumers to find, research and book hotels without leaving Messenger.
  • Skyscanner - helps travelers search and book flights based on origin and destination information. Then, according to the company, it yields the cheapest flights available on the market.

As of June 2016, The Verge reports there are already over 11,000 bots on Messenger, signaling maturity moving beyond first adopters and experimenters, and a huge potential for future growth.

5. Augmented & Virtual Reality become mainstream

Augmented reality was all the rage in 2011-2012. Everybody ‘had to have an app,’ yet consistent adoption failed to happen. Apps were expensive to produce, required custom coding for each OS and were big and bloated. Moreover, consumers failed to see the value in downloading, installing and keeping apps for each and every brand when in many cases, they were only used episodically such as on an annual vacation for a few days per year.

Now in 2016, this has all changed. Native technology capabilities in the mobile browser have significantly improved, reducing the need for large application development or different versions for every OS.

The last few years have also seen consumer recognition of mobile as a platform rather than just a phone with some extra features. On top of this, technology itself has evolved, enabling virtual reality to become an actual reality through more efficient technologies, processor improvements, and robust feature sets.

When Facebook acquired Oculus VR in the spring of 2014, the world took notice and the $2 billion price tag proved to many that virtual reality was moving far beyond a fad. By 2016, Oculus had released headsets to the broad consumer market at a relatively affordable price that enabled mainstream adoption.

Augmented reality helps to create an enhanced version of something a consumer is already experiencing. Some of the best implementations to date include:

  • Guided tours where pointing your mobile device at a historic building overlays more information from history.
  • Points of Interest where a consumer can look down an avenue and see overlays of shopping, dining, and attractions complete with reviews and operating hours.

Virtual reality, by contrast, transports the user to an entirely different place. The best examples are completely immersive with 3D video goggles and choreographed audio. Some examples include:

  • ‍A tour in a canoe where you’re in the back seat and can choose to go left to the rapids or right for the canyons, completely immersing yourself in the experience.
  • Peering into a viewer at the mall, much like what you might see on the Empire State Building, and being allowed to walk the beach, hear the crashing waves and look in all directions.

One interesting case study is that of The New York Times whose “AR app was downloaded more times in the first 24 hours than any other app the news organization had ever built. People watched videos in the app for an average of 14 minutes.”

14 minutes. I'm going to let that sink in. Now, consider the opportunity for deep engagement with such a committed consumer…

The opportunities for those working in destination marketing are vast and technological evolution is making it one of the most exciting industries to work in. It’s a sector that’s constantly on the cusp of transformation with an audience that craves exciting changes. Getting ahead of the curve with our marketing predictions ensures you’ll be setting trends for more than just your customers – you’ll be dictating marketing practices in every industry for years to come.

At The Atkins Group, our Exploration & Insights team focuses on understanding the deepest elements of human behavior to derive what motivates consumers to make decisions on loyalty, engagement and purchase.  Our Technologies team explores the near-future of technology-enabled marketing to bring the best emerging opportunities to market. 

Looking to produce something game changing?  Reach out to us and let’s chat.

Written by
July 23, 2016