An awareness of current travel trends helps you strategically plan to market and develop your business. In the competitive online marketplace, a knowledge of the travel scene and current and future developments will help you spend wisely to maximize your sales. Fortunately, in the information rich world of online tourism- there is plenty of data being continuously gathered, analysed and published. The best way to access and utilize is this data is to seek out the work of online travel research professionals.
Unfortunately, there is a general lack of active and updated information about tourism in most emerging markets- and even more so online tourism. We recognize that if E-Tourism is to become a feasible and sustainable part of our tourism sectors, there is a need to produce and publish appropriate African based research that can be used to qualify strategic plans and lobby for redistribution of budgets, while identifying challenges and potential solutions. We are currently planning in conjunction with Wayn.com and local partners to reverse this situation and carry out specific research into market penetration, tourist demographics and the potential for emerging tourist products in the modern online market. Good sources for online data, trends and analysis include Travel Mole, E-Marketer and PhocusWright.
The information that follows is gathered from the excellent New Media Review published by the European Travel Commission.
There are an estimated 1.2 billion internet users or more, globally. There has been substantial growth in all world regions, particularly in Asia and the Pacific, which, over seven years, has moved from third position (with about 100 million users), to top position with over 400 million. Current forecasts suggest 1.5 billion people with Internet access in 2011.
Broadband, a critical factor in the use of the internet for travel and tourism, has and will grow at a particularly fast rate. Future growth will be driven predominantly by wireless usage, especially in Asia and the Pacific.
In all major markets worldwide, web search is now more important than personal recommendation. Other research confirms the domination of the internet as a source of information. For example, in Europe, the internet is the most important information source, although the travel trade is still very important in terms of travel sales.
In overall number of internet users, the USA is now well behind both Europe and Asia and the Pacific, but it is still the leading world region for online commerce in travel. This would appear to be primarily a function of the maturity of the market. The USA was the early adopter of the internet and substantial online sales took about five years to develop. Europe is following three to four years behind the USA, and Asia and the Pacific about the same again.
Online travel sales have surpassed offline sales in the US, a trend that is now being in Europe and Asia- with online travel sales exceeding US$100 Billion in annual sales making travel inventory the top selling product online. In the USA, online travel buyers are increasingly going direct to the websites of the tourism suppliers, rather than using online travel agencies. The reason is that suppliers’ sites have improved markedly and often now include ‘lowest price guarantees’, in a belated attempt to claw business back from the online intermediaries who dominated the market in the early years.
In Europe, the situation varies markedly between the different countries, with the travel agency share varying from nearly two-thirds in Sweden and Italy to well under a third in Denmark, Germany and France.
The preference for User Generated Content (UGC) is now dominating web habits. Some 70% of Internet content is forecast to be created by individuals as opposed to publishers and brands within three years. UGC is set to rapidly shift from a budding consumer trend to a serious business over the next five years. Despite the ongoing challenges facing UGC sites to find a business model that works, and despite continued hesitancy among some major brands to even go near the explosive space, eMarketer predicts that category leaders such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Photobucket will lead the charge in terms of legitimizing the medium over the next five years.
The nearly tenfold increase in UGC advertising spending in the US reflects optimism in the ability of companies like YouTube, MySpace and Facebook to continue to build and retain vast audiences. Plus, users have shown no indication that creating their own Web content for others to consume is a passing fad, found eMarketer. By 2011, the researcher estimates there will be 95 million Web users creating content online, up from 64 million in 2006.
This is reflective of the new Web 2.0 environment, fuelled by content and driven by Social Networking. About 44% of US consumers will use social networking at least once a month, according to eMarketer. Although MySpace and Facebook will continue to dominate the market, changes are afoot that will extend social networking activities beyond a single destination site and into many other facets of the consumer Internet experience.
Profiles will eventually become portable, meaning consumers need only create one profile and be able to use it in many places on the Web. Small applications or “widgets” that today work with only one social networking destination site will be designed on an open platform, extending their reach. Activities such as online shopping, searching and even sending e-mail will be enhanced with social networking features. Social networking will remain a key online activity regardless of the individual performance of MySpace or Facebook.
Although targeted advertising is getting the lion’s share of attention and will continue to be important in 2008, other forms of social network marketing, such as search advertising, widgets and e-commerce, will draw increased marketer interest. Additionally, self-serve advertising systems will create a new market for local and small businesses to promote themselves via social networks.
E-Tourism Frontiers Resources
Staying ahead of the game in the dynamic world of e-tourism can be a real challenge, especially for those of us in emerging markets. E-Tourism Frontiers aims to provide tourism and ICT professionals with the resources and guidance they need to succeed online. The material in this section is a general overview of the topics covered and resources provided in our training courses.
To gain full understanding and make maximum use of these resources, join on of our training seminars, which provide attendees with intensive hands training in online sales, marketing and management skills for both destinations and tourism companies. Our trainers are experienced professionals with extensive experience working in online tourism around the world, including first hand experience of working in emerging markets. We use live demonstrations of working websites and technologies and will give you the skills, resources and support to begin making changes to your business and use the web to improve your organization and business. For full information on our training seminars please see our training section.
The following is a basic overview of the topics that we cover, complete with more information and advice on each area:
What Does Social Media mean for Tourism?.
Online Travel Trends.
Social Networking and Travel.
Travel Social Networks.
New Technologies for Tourism.
Customer Relations Management (CRM).
Gathering Customer Data.
Website Design & Management.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Content Management Systems.
E-TOURISM FRONTIERS Who We Are
E-Tourism Frontiers is a global programme to develop online tourism in emerging markets around the world.
Our aim is to open the developing world’s tourism trade to the world of online travel distribution and marketing- a sector in which the region has been left far behind- with very little inventory available to the online travel shopper. This situation threatens the sustainability and diversity of Tourism and the communities and environment that it supports.
We hold pro-active business driven conference events and training seminars featuring leading online tourism companies, experts and trainers- as well as regional road-shows targeting the travel trade, destination managers and National and regional tourism offices in all emerging markets, including the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
The success of our events speaks for itself and is changing the way both the public and private sector do business, manage their resources and market themselves globally, and creating new business relationships with leading international players and technology providers. We work with a range of major international sponsors to be sure that these events are of the highest international standards, as well as accessible and affordable to the complete spectrum of tourism players, including Small to Medium Enterprise (SMEs), Community and Eco-Tourism projects.
Our sponsor partners to date have included major global brands includingMicrosoft, VISA, Safaricom, Vodacom and Coca-Cola and many more together with regional tourism and ICT authorities. Our events have been attended and opened by Ministers and Vice Presidents- and attended by a diverse range of tourism players, from Multinational CEOs to University tourism students.
This article is quoted from E-TOURISM FRONTIERS.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Magnussen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’. Please join the online Views On Tourism network and discussion group in order to achieve personal goals as well as encourage a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh and South Asia. Read more about this group and how to become a member here.