A widely identified travel trend in 2015 the ‘silent traveller’ could be as deadly as it sounds for hospitality, but the travel industry only needs to find ways at catching these agile and cunning travellers on their own terms and turf.
To summarise, the growing profile of this type of globe trotter is one that is digitally adept with the travel apps and online resources, shuns human ‘service’ interaction, prefers to travel independently and often spontaneously with lots of authentic experiences. Too much personalisation, predictive targeting and pushy sales tactics, and you’ve lost them. Typically aged from 35 to 55, for these trippers satisfaction comes with digitally curating their own travel; picking their way through infinite information to gently refine travel intelligence down to those reviews, offers and recommendations that are substantial to them.
So, how is the travel and hospitality industry responding to this self-servicing traveller? Self check-ins for hotels, Apple Pay, and room service menus to order ‘locally’ (avoiding those awkward run ins with the floor butler) are just a few to be seen so far. However when it comes to search and social media, the silent traveller is still susceptible. Private browsing and messaging is on the up, yet they still expect more personalised search results and filtering based on history, shares and data. Not to mention, where visuals are now the language in travel marketing they are still hugely influenced (81%) and inspired by holidays of friends, family, and those handpicked influencers, through social media.
In many ways the ‘silent traveller’ is the entirely expected response to travel companies being able to know (pretty well), and reach (pretty often), consumers through data and applications. The growing tide of these savvy, noiseless travellers are quietly demanding a service more suited to them; they don’t want the hard sell but require more of the ‘assist then sell’ with intelligent and quality, personalised targeting. Be interesting to see how the travel industry steps up over 2015.
We’d like to see better use of beacon technology by the travel industry to target locally the spontaneous and digitally-savvy traveller. This way hotels could promote local tours, restaurants and spa deals as guests walk through the threshold, rather than trying to sell these services in bulk two months before their guests hit the destination. Another is, truly collaborative strategic partnerships between global services and local suppliers to effectively engage and upsell to the silent traveller. An example of this would be a customer books a return flight to Copenhagen through British Airways and subsequently gets an email confirming their booking and links to restaurant booking times via Open Table in the destination, and/or a gallery of relevant articles from their online magazine about the city.
Tour operators should offer silent travellers discounts off their next trip booked within the next two years with strategic personalized reminders and content to entice them back. Online booking giants could sponsor more customers in return for social media coverage of their trips with destinations and services that demonstrate that it is so much more than just a booking service.