Bloggers & Instagram-run businesses
One big factor that has come in to play for travel, as it has for many industries, is the blogger community. Bloggers have become as, if not more, important than magazine editors in their respective areas. For travel bloggers, this has allowed for them to collaborate with companies, brands, and even tourism boards to sponsor and share content to their large followings. With the sponsored posts also come their guides to certain cities, recommendations and tips, and sharing of their experience with their readers. These bloggers must establish trust in their readers, since the readers may follow in their footsteps, and getting these millennials to trust and follow you is an accomplishment. Personally, I am picky about the bloggers I follow, since there seem to be so many out there today.
Along these same lines, photographers sharing their photos and travel content, and who have built strong brands on this Instagram content, can use their experience to turn into a business. For example, @beautifuldestinations created the “largest online travel community” through their Instagram page, which currently has 8.7 million followers. Today, the page has grown into a full consulting agency that helps hotels, charities, and tourism boards promote themselves and understand how to engage on social media. From where they started to where they are now, Beautiful Destinations is a perfect example of how active and engaged millennials are over travel on social media.
Peers & FOMO
Oh, FOMO (For those of you that don’t know, this stands for the Fear Of Missing Out). Forbes cites this as a major driver for millennial travel – their friends are going there, so they want to go there too. I think this is definitely true, especially proven by the endless abroad photos taken in the exact same spots, but it also may have to do with the sharing of information. It is much easier to text a peer and ask how she traveled to Bali than spend hours online doing the research myself.
As I myself have been researching travel, I’ve found so many more digital resources than what I ever expected. I’ve learned a lot from looking at the websites of the blogger Instagrams mentioned above, but with those, you sometimes need to look with a close eye to see what is #sponsored.
TripAdvisor is the obvious first. While it might be more popular with older generations, millennials are still driven to read real people’s reviews and opinions over ads. Additionally, other review sites have come into play like Hostelworld, which focuses on hostel/backpack travel.
Facebook communities: These knowledgeable groups are formed by many different people with different motives, but some are really helpful. For example, Girl vs. Globe is a community for solo women travelers where people write questions about safety, planning help, or just general advice, and get tons of responses in return. Millennials value real people’s opinions over ads, and this is a great way to get some quick responses.
Inspirock/ trip planning sites: These sites allow you to input your preferences, destinations, amount of adventure vs. relaxation you desire, and will pull together an itinerary for you in seconds. Below is an example. I was shocked by this free service because not only does it show you possible activities, but lays out how to get to and from each destination, where to stay, and the prices. It is a fast and free travel agent.
Virtual Reality is something I question with regard to travel and digital business. When I came back from Australia, a neighbor showed me virtual reality of the Great Barrier Reef, where I had been, and I was amazed by the real feeling and imagery that VR displayed. While some may think that seeing the reef from the comfort of their own living room is enough, I have to disagree, but it will be interesting to see the extent to which this could replace people’s desire to get out and see the world.
What does this mean?
Social media and digital business are changing all industries – we know that. For travel, social media has created a wanderlust that was rare in the generations before us. Everything is at the tip of our fingers (literally on the screen). These days, millennials are getting out and following this wanderlust that is all around us online. But as social media and blogs are replacing travel guides and magazines, will virtual reality ever replace the reality of travel? I sure hope not.