Tourism and hospitality in the digital world


Author: Soledad Abella

What happens when two of the world’s fastest-growing industries come together? That’s what has been happening to digital marketing and travel, which has meant huge, fast changes in the past years which will continue to take place in the years ahead. If it still doesn’t sound like digital marketing can have a decisive impact on your travel company, then you should think twice: according to eMarketer, the travel industry will spend more than $9.8 billion on digital advertising around the world in 2019. When those big numbers are involved, it’s crucial to stay on top of the game – let’s see how.

How digital marketing has changed the way people travel – and consume travel

The biggest change in the past decade has definitely been the rise of smartphones and e-commerce, which have inevitably shaped customer behavior. This, in turn, meant more technologies, devices and platforms available to market travel products.

Another big factor has been the effect of social media on travel, where vast amounts of travel content, advice, travel groups and the “fear of missing out” factor have contributed to travel being one of the most-shared types of content in this platform. Again, this situation can only mean big benefits for travel companies, because a good website and a good social media presence can have a practically unlimited reach compared to more traditional forms of marketing.

However, this rise in social media has definitely imposed a radical change in the way brands do marketing. In contrast with traditional marketing’s hard sales techniques, social media users demand a completely different kind of content. We have entered the age of storytelling, a more authentic, creative approach and user-generated content. Customers have been getting used to a more personal communication and to trust other people that they can identify themselves with.

What are the trends for the coming years?

According to Skift and Sojern’s report, these are going to be some of the key trends and challenges in the near future when it comes to digital marketing and tourism:

Travel Data

In the past years, companies have been able to collect and access more and more data regarding customer behavior that are key succeed when it comes to digital marketing and travel in the coming years. Those who do not collect, analyze and take actions based on data will be running a hopeless race.

Social advertising

It will continue to grow, but will require every time more creativity. In response to their huge influence on e-commerce, social networks are implementing new ways to allow companies to sell their products more easily through their platforms, such as allowing a photo to link directly to a product purchase or booking page. According to a study by IAB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, companies spent $29 billion on social advertising in 2019, a 30% increase compared to the previous year, and there are no signs that this trend will be stopping any time soon.

However, the competition to get the attention of so many potential customers is hard, considering most social media platforms allow very short ads, and users are also getting better than ever at spotting and discarding content that comes from advertisements. Brands have to be on top of their creative game and produce high quality, unique images and videos designed specifically for that platform.


Customization of the tourist’s experience with a brand in general will be key, including marketing and how to reach, engage and convert these tourists. Personalization is now not just a marketing strategy, but it’s often what customers expect from brands. This personalization includes customized offers, product recommendations and an overall experience.

Privacy Issue

With this subject on the table and governments passing on laws affecting it, this is something that companies will have to keep in mind at all times. They will have to be informed about privacy regulations in the different territories where they operate, while at the same time making the best use of the data they possess, as long as they’re compliant.

This panorama of change is incredibly exciting as it will provide new ways for brands to reach the right customers, engage them and retain them in a more efficient way. However, adapting to it will require changes, experimenting and testing, always keeping customers and their needs at the center. What there is no doubt about is that this process is inevitable. How is your brand adapting to these changes?

About the author:

Soledad’s passions and fields of experience are travel and digital marketing. She has worked mainly in the hospitality industry with hotels and OTAs and now owns a women-focused tour company in Barcelona. She also works with brands helping them with their online marketing campaigns and strategy. You can find more about her digital marketing services on

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