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- 24 Aug 2012
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8 Travel & Lifestyle Trends in Social Media


Mobile apps have transformed the travel and lifestyle Industries

Karen Weiner Escalera, president & chief strategist at KWE Partners, highlights some new and more established ways social media is influencing travel & lifestyle industries

Each quarter KWE Partners seek to identify new trends in the industry. This time, because of the tremendous volatility globally, we thought it would be valuable to take a look at which trends we’ve identified over the years, and see which ones were still very relevant.

Interestingly enough, some dating back to our first issue in 2005 still resonate. We’ve chosen the top eight by influence, with Neo Tribalism, the hunt for value, and the quest for new experiences as being mega trends. And then we superimposed a new criterion, putting them in the context of our social media world.

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 create and discover thanks to 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.

Hunt for Value: Entertain & 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. Contests, mayorships, scavenger hunts and mystery trips all add elements of excitement and engagement to a buying experience.

 Look for more gamification marketing to create brand awareness, drive user engagement and build brand loyalty 

Lifestyle Immersion, New Experiences

Since 2008, the majority of consumers had to tighten their belts, but in the process, 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 improving offerings that entertain, educate and transform for special interest groups – from learning holidays that go beyond the usual cooking schools, to academies in interior design and wedding planning. Lifestyle hotels are appealing to everyone from foodies (the Food Hotel) to divorcees (the Divorce Hotel) and babymooners (Casa Velas).

Authenticity, Localism

Tuned in travellers desire authentic experiences; the chance to interact in local neighbourhoods 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 and socialization (social locavores are those who only socialize in their immediate community) . 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.

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, sharing and renting in everything from real estate to jets – even olive groves! And it’s socially evolving to peer-to-peer renting between consumers: everything from homes and fashion, to jets, cars and parking spaces.

 We saw significant growth and development of fractional ownership, sharing and renting in everything from real estate to jets 

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, both Vermont and the city of Detroit had citizens choose a winning ad campaign, and most recently, the Swedish Tourist Board launched a highly innovative social campaign where citizens take turns as the official tweeter. 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, colour, lighting and scent.

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.

Family & 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, fuelled 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.

Mobile Apps Transform 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; save consumers time; improve 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.

To further investigate travel and lifestyle on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- The Most Searched For Luxury Hotel Brands in China
- Which Nationalities Are Spending What Where: Global Blue
- The Latest Hotels: London, Seville & Saint-Tropez


KWE Partners are among the USA’s leading strategic marketing and public relations experts in luxury travel, hospitality and real estate, headquartered in Miami.

Creator of the KWEst PROcess for strategic market positioning and product development, Karen is a frequent speaker on travel trends and is editor of an internationally syndicated luxury travel and lifestyle trends newsletter and blog.