Authenticity has become a frequent buzz word in travel PR. People buy from people – always have, always will. We have a duty to ensure that a brand’s content is speaking in its customers’ language, maintaining a truthful voice, especially in the current realm of the discerning traveller.
Greater importance is being assigned to personal experiences. This has helped fuel growth for the likes of Airbnb, which at the end of 2016 launched its local host ‘Trips’ offering, having ownership of the whole travel experience.
Making sure time is well spent is now a very important focus in the travel industry. There’s little time to escape the day to day pressures of life, so when on holiday, we want and expect service to look after us and to add something special. And at the same time we want more control over our own experiences and the documenting and sharing of those experiences is a crucial element for many travellers. Watch this YouTube video by the Dwyer-Bolden family in Hawaii with Airbnb – an honest, moving account of spending time together.
In a talk we attended at a recent Visit Cornwall Summit, Bernard Donoghue, chairman of The Tourism Alliance, discussed how mass tourism is dying, with the savvy traveller seeking bespoke, tailored experiences. We want to connect with the places we are visiting. So, what role should independent travel brands be playing?
One size no longer fits all. If you can create an authentic and unique sense of place for guests, in physical form and online, you’ll be attracting more of the right guests. Travel PR and social media must honour this too.
Influencer marketing has become a cornerstone of content strategy. As reported by Musefind, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others over branded content. These recommendations must feel authentic to maintain a real, loyal following. Too many Instagram influencers are ruining the travel experience with what Conde Nast Traveller calls ‘psychotically contrived, faux-spontaneous images.
Authenticity is being challenged. So, use real people to tell your story. Create content that is outward-facing, not inward. Really show off the essence of your offering. We are in a world of instant transparency – allowing us to connect more directly with our consumers than ever have before. Honour user-generated content, and respect and showcase it. By doing this you are recognising the efforts of your guests to engage with you.
Identify content creators who share the passions that are in keeping with your brand’s ethos, and represent part of your target market. Take a look here at the video journal Helen and Simon at Passportstamps created with us for Watergate Bay Hotel during a visit last May.
Authenticity must run throughout a holiday offering, from the moment the guest books and then steps through the door to reception. As Bernard Donoghue says, a four-star review will only become a five-star review because of the person that made your guest’s experience memorable.
Words: Maddi Tiscoe