Two premier events happened last week in New York City, Advertising Week and Skift Global Forum, and we didn’t miss the opportunity to be a participant in both, joining in on discussions and digging into the opportunities and challenges in the digital and travel ecosystem. Advertising Week is a top tier event for advertising industry experts, leaders and visionaries. Skift Global Forum had 30+ CEO’s and top travel industry leaders address an audience of travel minds from around the globe. Our team was fortunate to attend both events, and we walked away from these events with new friends, and new insights, and we wanted to share it all with you.
We gleaned a few key takeaways from our time at Advertising Week, the first of which is that millennials aren’t going away anytime soon. Millennials have been a hot topic in the marketing and advertising businesses for years, as this group no doubt is changing the game for many industries. They’re buying more and spending more and it presents a huge opportunity for brands to reach and influence them. A panel of experts with representatives from Spotify, Getty Images and more, discussed how the millennial audience are focused on visual creativity to create intimacy, and they appreciate authenticity from a brand. To reach millennials, you need to think like them, and understand that in most cases millennials influence other millennials so working with influencers could be a good strategy to reach that audience.
Another theme taken from the stages of Advertising Week is how marketing is all about telling a story. Storytelling was a term that came up a lot over the week, and while marketers are not unfamiliar with the concept, it is more important to be storytellers now more than ever before. Authenticity and storytelling go hand in hand. In an Adobe Think Tank interview session, Maya Draisin Farrah, VP of Marketing at Conde Nast, said “if you’re telling a good story, the consumer these days doesn’t care if it comes from a brand or it comes from a traditional publisher.”
At the same time these advertising opportunities were being discussed, uptown at Lincoln Center, travel visionary leaders were on stage at the Skift Global Forum focusing on the current travel industry landscape. One major opportunity that many leaders touched on is the ability to reduce friction and make travel easier with technology and digital mediums. With the explosive growth of the digital world, there is a plethora of platforms and ways for travel brands to connect with consumers. A specific option discussed was the ability to provide hyper-relevant personalization that makes travel easier and enhances the consumer experience. For example, our own Expedia, Inc. CEO Mark Okerstrom noted the opportunity we have to leverage our first party travel data to serve up customized messaging to travelers. For example, reaching a traveler with a custom offer to Maui because we know they have booked trips to Maui the past two years around this same time of year.
The challenge in the opportunity as we all know too well is that the digital world is evolving and growing so rapidly, which impacts a customer's preferences and expectations. Maximizing technology, data and online channels to connect with consumers is critical to stay ahead of the competition however, Lilian Tomovich, Chief Experience Officer/CMO of MGM Resorts International, reminded the audience that “we are in the experience business, and business needs to be handled by humans and enhanced by technology.”
Traveler preferences are changing. This is true for Millennials, as discussed at Advertising Week, who want authenticity, and we know from our research on travelers across all generations that authenticity in travel translates to personal and unique travel experiences. Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, noted their millennial traveler base has tripled because of their ability to work with destinations to highlight and lean into the experiences their cruisers will receive during on board, and off the ship in the destination.
All of these discussions came back to one key thing, while technology has created a greater opportunity to connect with customers, we as marketers need to continue to be customer-centric by leveraging data and technology to create an optimal travel experience reaching consumers from inspiration, booking, in-trip and post-trip to continue to stay relevant. Sounds simple, right?
We at Expedia Media Solutions understand the challenges with this ever-changing digital world and the importance of staying on top of the travel audience preferences and behaviors, so that we can enable our travel brands and marketing partners to be more strategic in our digital connection points with the travel audience. Take a look at our to understand how to connect with and reach your target travel audience, and join our discussions on Twitter at @ExpediaMedia.
We look forward to seeing you at upcoming events and discussing these ideas and trends in our ever evolving advertising and travel industries.