Podcast host Dolores Semeraro explores 3 additional areas across the more commonly known '4 travel decision phases', which are having an incredible impact on the outcome of that travel decision.
Season 3 Episode 59
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About Dolores Semeraro
Dolores Semeraro is a Tourism & Hospitality Marketing Specialist and International Tourism Keynote Speaker focusing on Tourism Innovation, Recovery Strategies and Travel Resilience with 20 years of experience in hospitality, marketing, and communication.
During her career, Dolores has worked in Europe, China, The Maldives, and The Republic of Mauritius for some of the most established hotel companies across Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Tourism Marketing and Digital Communication are Dolores’ key areas of expertise, she pioneered the use of social media for hospitality and tourism in the Maldives since the very early days of the use of social networks.
Most recently, as the pandemic brought the global outlook of the tourism industry to a halt, Dolores launched the world’s first travel recovery podcast called ‘Truth Behind Travel’ where she interviews tourism industry leaders and travel experts on the core topic of Travel Recovery. Within months from its launch, the podcast ranked #1 in travel and places on Apple Podcast across the Indian Ocean region.
As the hospitality and tourism industry embarks on a journey towards travel recovery, Dolores has brought her hospitality keynotes to a global virtual stage having been invited to speak at international tourism summits as a Hospitality Expert on Travel Recovery. She has also been the host of travel and hospitality virtual events moderating panels with the likes of Ministers of Tourism and Diplomats as well as senior industry leaders both in the hospitality and aviation industry.
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Welcome back to Truth Behind Travel Podcast, today with an episode dedicated to those struggling to reach their desired audience with a message that is clear, relatable and most importantly, relevant. In other words, a message that won’t leave the audience saying, ‘so what?’ about you and your brand.
During today’s episode we are going to explore 3 additional areas across the more commonly known travel decision phases, which are having a incredible impact on the outcome of that decision. I would say, these 3 additional areas are more of added layers to the travel decision phases, but we are going to see together why and when they make a difference and how to tune in your brand message.
So 3 key areas to improve when you elaborate your brand message, when you want to reach your desired travel audience, connect with them at a deeper level and build a much longer relationship with them.
Let’s get to it.
Between the Dream Phase and the Plan Phase
As tourism operators, we know by now that travellers do spend a lot of time in the dream phase. This is the phase where they start to think about taking time off, time off from their work, even family sometimes, and - in a life where every minute is planned and maximized – they imagine how would they spend that ‘time off’ – what would they love to do, what could they do within their means, preferences, habits, vacation goals.
Here is where the first of the 3 key areas unfold.
Well we don’t live in a world where the picture of dreaming of travels looks like someone gently holding their head looking out from the window of their home, softly sighing away.
The sound we rather hear now, and ok, I can still give you the person looking out the window picture, is more likely the frantic tapping of fingertips on a keyboard. With a person that searches on the internet what an ideal type of travel experience would be like.
The first key area to focus on is SEARCH.
Where can the travellers YOU want to have joining your tours, staying in your hotels, booking your experiences, are searching for their type of travel. So quite simply, I’d like to take a notebook and a pen and answer these two questions:
Number 1 - Where are our desired customers searching for their dream travel?
Number 2 - Am I there?
If the answer is yes, good. Now we are talking. But if the answer is ‘I don’t know’ to the first and ‘No’ to the 2nd I think it’s time to look back into who your ideal guest is today.
I would also highlight another point which influences directly the SEARCH area. If you are thinking that for ‘where to search’ only means on which social media platform to be seen and found, you are mistaken.
The recent traveller value index 2023 published by Expedia said loud and clear. In 2023 travellers are going to select the travel companies of choice if they are aligned with their values. This means that the SEARCH goes beyond the digital platform of choice, it goes deep into community conversations, ethos, values, what is fundamentally right for them.
In a recent keynote which I shared for the Tourism Board of Tampere in Finland, the part where I highlighted that travellers moving forward are going to be concerned, cautious and committed – generated quite a stir in the room. And here is the COMMITTED part which comes back to what we are saying about being aligned with their values.
Travellers are more committed to international causes than ever, and ready to change their travel plans if the destination, operators or even down to the choice of the hotel does not align with what they believe in and speak out for.
Needless to say, your discoverability is key and your relevancy even more.
What follows a DREAM phase enriched by a very personal SEARCH phase is the Plan phase.
Here, I cannot even begin to tell you how many factors truly influence the direction of the Plan Phase, particularly today, when the world is trying to come out of a very uncertain time.
Money, Health, Security, Safety, Fear of Crowds, Fear of everything really, have a major impact on the how the planning phase go.
So here, our job is one and one only. To make it easier for travellers to plan what THEY want to do, HOW they want to do it. That’s it. Make it easy for them to plan ahead.
And what do travellers want today, as they plan their travels? They want Assurance
This is 2nd key area that we need to focus on today. How do we provide assurance across our brand message?
Assurance that we deliver upon our promises. Assurance that we are committed just as they are on building a more sustainable future. Assurance that we won’t let them down, should anything ELSE happen while they are traveling. I can go on.
In this Plan phase, Assurance is perhaps the most important factor that would impact the outcome of planning.
In many cases, Assurance of a more inclusive Holiday too.
Travellers have voiced their preferences – specifically 8 out of 10 travellers today have confirmed that they have made travel choices based inclusivity and representation. In other words, 78% of them felt represented – in an Ad or social content – and decided to make that travel decision. This is even higher when we speak of Millennials, with values up to 84%.
So right after the PLAN Phase has been topped with a good amount of Assurance, next comes the BOOKING Phase at last, and here after having pondered thousand of other options, hopefully the traveller has chosen to book with YOU BUT – there is a BUT. A soft layer, I would say, that we can’t miss at this phase.
If up to 84% of travellers would go for a specific option if they feel represented across visuals, text, content in general that we put out on a daily basis, is because there is an element of Validation that enhances that option making it more ‘safe’ to take.
This is the 3rd of the 3 areas we are discussing today, Validation.
Travellers are looking at their peers, their reviews, what are the others doing, they seek validation to play safe or to play it all out.
So what can we do to feel validated? At this stage, we stop speaking of ourselves, our product, and we let other speaks for us. Call them all in, repeater guests, brand ambassadors, travel influencers. All of them, let other talk about you, and You? You take a step back here.
From here on it’s all about the experience, here you are the master of your castle. Work that magic, Here you don’t have to abide by the rule of an algorithm, here you can create that human connection that no AI can ever create.
So let’s recap.
To the DREAM, PLAN, BOOK and EXPERIENCE phases we now added SEARCH, ASSURANCE, VALIDATION.
How does this sound? Does this resonate with you and the work that you do? Coming up soon after the Festivities is a series of virtual seminars where each phase is taken and discussed to – the - bones so if today’s episode somehow touched the right cords, make sure to get in touch with me before the end of this month to book your spot – these virtual seminars are not open to everyone and attendance is limited to a few.
Thank you for being with me today and as always, never forget to get n touch to share your feedback, or share the podcast across your professional network if you wish to amplify this message.
All the best and I will see you soon again on Truth Behind Travel Podcast.