This post was originally published on the Adobe Blog and is republished here with permission.
Congratulations — you’re taking a trip.
For the next few moments, imagine you’re planning an upcoming vacation. Where do you head?
Perhaps you first text a friend to see if her most recent jaunt was as amazing as it looked in her Facebook photos. Or you might scroll through Instagram or Pinterest, saving any #travelgoals images that strike your fancy.
Then you might set an alert on one or several booking aggregator sites, opting into emails that notify you when flight and hotel prices hit the sweet spot for your destination. You’ll likely bounce among the websites, reviews, and social media accounts of several airlines and hotels to ascertain the combination of price and experience that best suits your needs. When all is said and done, you may have consulted more than 10 sources before making a single purchase, if you’re anything like the average consumer.
As you’ve taken this winding digital journey before you’ve even packed a bag, where have the travel and hospitality brands vying for your business been? If they’re savvy, they’ve been anticipating your every move — and they’ve found you on the sites you’ve chosen to visit and in the language you natively speak.
Today’s digital traveler is unprecedentedly well-connected, with multiple options at his or her fingertips at every touchpoint in his or her buying journey. The most successful brands will have a strategy for understanding and meeting their customers’ needs — and making a lasting connection by offering a personalized experience.
As a travel brand, how can you ensure your content resonates with today’s modern global traveler? Keep the following four maxims in mind.
1. Understand the traveler’s winding path to a decision.
Step one in your path to resonance is of the utmost importance: you need to understand the many steps your target customer could take on his or her path to a decision. Successful brands understand the combination of autonomy and assistance today’s travelers seek — and they’re waiting in the digital wings, ready to nudge customers in the right direction whenever they can. That means that brands should be ready to adjust the content they display based on where a customer is, both literally and figuratively. Use AI-based technology to tailor content based on where a traveler is currently located, where she’s seeking to go, and the digital journeys she’s taken in the past. Brands should strive to fill gaps customers don’t realize they have, targeting content, and creating a helpful, personalized experience for every traveler everywhere.
And brands should be prepared to answer customers’ calls in any language, at any time, and via any medium. As consumers increasingly turn to voice assistants to conduct their searches, brands need to optimize their content so it ranks for searches conducted by voice as well as by text.
2. Get creative about authenticity.
Across the spectrum, consumers expect ever-increasing levels of trust and authenticity from the brands with which they do business. For that reason, travel brands should embrace creative ways to showcase the unique attributes that distinguish them and forge stronger, more authentic relationships with their customers.
“Brands and destinations need to move beyond just pushing out the glossiest photos possible,” says Claire Goodswen, senior director of North America solutions at Lionbridge. “Instead, they should choose imagery and content that speaks to the culture of their destination.”
How can brands do this? “Work with influencers and travelers to promote content that reflects their brand across many platforms,” Claire says, “and seek out ways to translate or generate in-language reviews and social content, so non-English-speaking travelers have access to the same trusted sources that English-speaking guests do.” One medium that delivers maximum levels of authenticity? Live video, whose raw format offers the 360-degree views that engender customer trust.
3. Celebrate experiences vs. transactions.
As we all intrinsically know, the best travel experiences are just that — experiences. As brands have evolved to connect with consumers more authentically, they’ve shifted from seeking transactions to promoting experiences. Airlines and accommodations alike have focused on offering experiences that reflect the kind of lifestyle their brands espouse, and they’ve doubled-down on promoting their loyalty programs in the process.
As travelers are inundated with more and more options for their travel plans, it’s important for brands to increase both the frequency and the depth of their engagement with guests. That requires both a fundamental understanding of customers’ wants and desires — in multiple languages and cultures — and a comprehensive reward program for customer loyalty.
4. Speak their language — at scale.
The world, as the adage goes, is getting smaller. More people from more backgrounds have the means and interest to travel to more places. For travel and hospitality brands, that means more opportunity, but it also means that offering personalized experiences worldwide necessitates content that resonates in multiple languages. Brands can’t just rely on translation — they need to transcreate their content, thus preserving the creativity and emotion of the original messaging while making it relevant to consumers in other cultures.
And brands need to scale quickly, targeting customers in Asia as effectively as they do in South America, with a combined stellar tech stack and culturally savvy marketing team. As increasingly powerful technology fills their toolkits, marketers should take advantage of opportunities to customize ads and messaging, tailoring campaigns to their customers in their native languages, in real time.
The world is literally at the fingertips of today’s digital traveler. To differentiate themselves from competitors at all stages of the traveler’s journey, travel and hospitality brands must seek constant, innovative, authentic opportunities to develop personalized, trusted relationships with their customers. By anticipating customer needs and offering experiences on their preferred devices and in their native languages, brands can offer memorable experiences that stoke their customers’ wanderlust — and keep them coming back for more.
Learn more about the power of the Adobe and Lionbridge integration for driving authentic, personalized and culturally relevant digital experiences for your customers.
Sergio Restrepo is a digital marketing expert in the Global Digital Marketing Services Division at Lionbridge. With ten years of digital marketing experience, he knows just what makes customers tick–an authentic and human connection with brands.