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Connecting with the Next Gen: PR and Content Marketing for Travel Brands

Travel - 6th December 2023
Connecting with the Next Gen: PR and Content Marketing for Travel Brands

I recently attended ABTA’s Travel Trends 2023 conference, a jam-packed day full of discussions around upcoming trends with engaging Q&As and expert panels.

In the ever-evolving landscape of travel, one notable theme in ABTA’s Travel Trends report was the surge in consumer confidence, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis. Surprisingly, people are allocating a significant portion of their household budgets towards holidays, with 28% planning to increase their spending on travel next year. Even more surprisingly, while 93% of 18–24-year-olds claim to have been affected by the financial climate, the positive sentiment of prioritising travel for this age group was particularly strong.

While I’m a few months short of falling into the ‘Gen Z’ category, I can certainly speak for the ‘Zillennials’ in telling you that we aren’t waiting for retirement to tick off those bucket list locations. We’re making the most of our weekends, exploring new cities and immersing ourselves in diverse cultures. All whilst being increasingly aware of our environmental impact.

With the above in mind, there’s a real opportunity here for travel brands to open their doors to the next generation of travel enthusiasts.

So, how do we do that?

Meet Generation T: The Gen Z travellers

ABTA identified ‘Gen T’, the group redefining travel norms. Aged 18-24, they exhibit a greater desire to explore the world, taking an average of 2.7 holidays a year, compared to the average of 1.4 for other generations. Despite being affected by the cost-of-living crisis, Gen T remain enthusiastic about travel and are out searching for those value-driven experiences.

In a value-driven market, travellers are seeking more bang for their buck and want to know exactly what they’re getting for their investment. Understanding how to connect with this younger audience to market products and services is simple really…the buzzword? Authenticity.

Less glossy brochures and staged photos, please. To grab our attention, travel brands need to spill the beans and show what happens behind the scenes. That means revealing the day-to-day grind, introducing the faces behind the brand, shining a light on what makes each destination tick and being transparent in your efforts towards addressing environmental impact.

Sustainability and bridging the ‘say-do’ gap

While 18–24-year-olds and young families increasingly prioritize sustainable travel, a notable ‘say-do’ gap persists, revealing a disconnect between expressed interest and action. Could this be due to a lack of transparency and accessibility of more sustainable options in the travel industry?

To bridge the gap, marketing to Gen Z and Millennials is crucial. As the research suggests, we demonstrate a greater willingness to pay for more sustainable choices, so there’s a huge market to be tapped into here (without greenwashing of course).

Successful PR of sustainability involves making it relatable, avoiding overly scientific language, and emphasizing the tangible impact of individual choices. We want to know who, what, where, and how we’re helping.

Crafting stories through PR activities and events

Strategic communications’ strategies provide a platform to weave compelling stories that resonate, particularly with the younger demographic.

Actively participating in meaningful events and initiatives gives brands a chance to create narratives that really connect with the next generation.

I’m talking more than surface-level interactions – It’s an opportunity to go beyond traditional promotional tactics, fostering genuine connections through authentic storytelling that captivate and engage us on a deeper level. Whether it’s hosting unique press trips, supporting social causes or spearheading innovative initiatives, PR activities and events are a powerful tool in building brand identity and fostering lasting connections with the target audience.

Content creators as cultural ambassadors

Content creators, aka ‘influencers’, can be a great asset to your brand. Rather than competing for engagement on social media platforms, you can work with those that already hold the attention of the audience you’re targeting. This will also enable you to tap into a range of niches – such as, comedy, fashion, luxury, family or nomad travel – without having to alter your core brand.

When seeking creators to represent your product or service, we’re looking for individuals who resonate as friends, forging a connection beyond mere brand promotion. Together, our aim is not just to endorse a product or service; we’re crafting a narrative.

User-generated content (UGC): The real MVP

UGC is a goldmine. It’s time to get customers sharing their experiences through photos, videos, and reviews.

It’s not just about showing off, it’s about building a community.

As we curate and spotlight diverse narratives, we’re not only showcasing the essence of individual stories but also harnessing the power of real, peer-to-peer connections that resonate. It’s a dynamic strategy that goes beyond selling your brand; it’s about creating an immersive and relatable experience that resonates with collective aspirations.

TikTok: The unexpected travel planner

Looking ahead to 2024, the production of engaging video content remains key – with research suggesting reels are far outperforming still image ads on Instagram and Facebook for clicks and conversions.

For travel itinerary planning, TikTok is the talk of the town. Users are turning to the app like Google for travel inspiration. I planned an entire trip to Japan and South Korea earlier this year, solely based off TikTok recommendations – and had a great time!

According to research discussed at ABTA’s conference, 38% of TikTok users have made a travel booking or travel-related purchase after seeing content on the platform, making it not just a social media app but a pivotal travel planner.

So, it’s time to create content that shows off the heart and soul of your brand. Whether it be TikTok videos, Instagram and Facebook reels or YouTube shorts, Pinterest or even Lemon8, being active on numerous channels means getting in front of a younger audience who are actively seeking travel ideas in an engaging, unconventional way.

The future of travel marketing is all about keeping it real, telling stories, and being present across multiple offline and online channels. By customizing your content to show off authentic behind-the-scenes clips, getting into meaningful PR activities, teaming up with influencers in a way that feels right, embracing user-generated content, and riding the TikTok wave, you’re set to navigate the changing landscape and make meaningful connections with the travellers of tomorrow.

If you’d like to chat through how we can help you, contact me or any of our team on:

Laura Davies