In the last months I have been sharing in different forums and videoposts my opinions about which could be the trends that will shape 2012 and I have been requested several times to summarize them and put them in perspective. So, finally I have decided to create this list of recommendations. Of course, 10, to comply with the non-written rule. But donÂ´t blame me if I fail, I am just guessing for the sake of itâ¦.
1.- Not to forget the Boomers
This year, baby boomers will celebrate their 65th birthdays at the rate of 20,000 people a day in the western countries. These boomers have time, money and energy to spare. They also have a deep thirst for experiences, and that holds true across income levels. Boomers will value the expertise who can help them craft the fantastic experiences they want â trips that nourish, rejuvenate and enlighten, learning and volunteer vacations, customized adventures. Thereâs âtoo much at stakeâ for these travelers to book through the Internet if the pure transactional sites donÂ´t evolve. Itâs not: what is the cost of the airplane? Itâs: what is the cost of that week in terms of its importance in my life?â
Women boomers deserve a special remark. Expect to see growing numbers of single women over 50 traveling with their friends, Compared to earlier generations, those women are more highly educated, more empowered, more independent, more powerful in almost every single way. Many have also inherited money from their husbands or parents, and they have a passion for learning. Women Boomers are a market thatâs ripe for the picking as they are taking up any invitation from friends to go anywhere where they can learn. Theyâre saying, âIâm going to Patagonia. Do you want to come?â
2.- The search for meaning
The recession and its aftermath are renewing a consumer focus on meaningfulness, making people look inward at things that are really important to them. What matters now are: families and friends; education and self-improvement; health and spirituality; creativity; community involvement; and the environment. Travelers are willing to spend a lot of money on travel experiences, but they need different reasons to spend it.
Environmental awareness is influencing consumer choices in a big way. Concern about sustainability and the planet is top of mind for everybody, people seek out companies doing green things that are cool. Use that as a selling tool. People are willing to pay more for things that are really important to them, and green issues are one of those main things. For every strategy, new product or service, you must pay attention to the fact that over 98% of consumers in every market worldwide view themselves as environmentalists.
4.- The influential traveller
Brands selling direct to the consumer are now complemented by consumers recommending to consumers. In some ways theyâre hijacking brand marketing for all products. We like approval from others and people that we know especially, but this collusion of opinion and information is not always the truest form of value. There is always a blend to that fact and it's not about you or me personally, it's about how the numbers are used. And what will be more important this year is how relevant all you see, hear, do, tweet really is. So as a first step, ratings should become deeper than one out-of-five-star rating or âwas this helpful?â if we are going to be able to sift through the hyperbole of quantity. Quality will become the new quantity.
5.- A defensive mindset around spending
Consumers are hedging their bets against events or circumstances that might blow their budgets. Only with this mindset is understandable a divorce insurance, which covers the cost of divorce logistics; increased sales of frozen foods, because they wonât go bad; and wedding day insurance that reimburses couples if it rains on their special day. That will suppose the growth of all-inclusive travel options that make it easier to budget, and the increase of trip insurance, especially if they are creative and go beyond lost luggage. Successful travel marketers will need to appeal to travelersâ strong sense of value.
6.- Internet ubiquity
The Internet will be everyplace. Itâs converging with TV, with computing, with cell phones. Itâs the convergence of all this information technology into one kind of appliance. Every consumer purchasing decision is going to be mediated by this convergence. The move to mobile computing, mobile communications, mobile transactions is going to transform consumers - always-connected devices that give me choices. Brands need to learn how to navigate this new territory. itâs about influencing the influencers, having mind that perception is reality; and monitoring and understanding your reputation is more important than any ad a business can take out.
Since 1998 I've been hearing that next year mobile will be big, and each year it never happens. Until now. The Android and Apple platforms are solid, well engineered and ready to change our world. Applications and optics have been the two elements that completed the mobile cake. Gone will be the short-lived and quickly unused "app candy" that has been prevalent in this first era of smartphones. 2010 and 2011 were a platform building years for mobile, now its time for lift-off...finally.
7.- Stories are trickling up
The way that news and cultural influences spread has undergone a profound change. Things that are impacting culture and what weâre talking about are trickling up. Stories communicate and they spread quickly, so use the power of story in marketing and social media. If you want to create influence, you tell a story. Story is the new flavor for marketing, the enduring flavor. Clearly our next evolution in the digital world is in moving beyond the simple fascination with new apps and devices and the true application of them in our lives through valuable and relevant content. No longer will we have the shallow mash of video banks that produce banal instructional information with no context or emotional connection.
8.- Better web experience
HTML 5 will start invading a lot of work.Some of it super creative work and some banal and purely functional. Again, this wasn't purely because it was better than everyone else, it's a device-driven change. In the end HTML 5 will take a sizable share of the development work for new media and to what end only our collective imagination can tell us and travelers will not accept less.
9.- Discount shopping formula
Groupon is probably the first to come to mind. And the principle in itself will be the next phenomenon of online retail madness. What it has and probably will become is a natural progression in social media and online shopping. And with Facebook joining the game with its virtual currency, sky is the limit.
10.- Location, location, location
We all know Foursquare has made an impact on social media and those who consume it. But this isnât just about people checking in anymore. Now businesses can instantly register all their locations and youâll have a networked location experience, which could be a good thing or a disaster. Like many features that come and go, this one wonât go away and Facebook, Google and others will play hard to win. And clearly Mobile technology is changing traveler behavior, providing more access to local and location-aware advertising and information.
Dr. Javier GonzÃ¡lez-Soria y Moreno de la Santa
L G+ YT TT Co-Founder & CEO ConnectedtoGo