5 Travel PR & Marketing Trends Debunked

We debunk five trends in Travel PR & Marketing for 2024, including AI and TikTok, authentic influencer content, social media as a search engine and long form video. Read more below!

Now that the new year has kicked off, trend watchers, media, and marketers are scrambling to present you with the marketing trends of 2024 on a silver platter. However, many of these trends tend to overlap or resurface almost every year in the same trend lists. This led us to a lively debate in the office: can we still call something a trend if it keeps getting recycled year after year? We believe that some of these recurring trends should at least be questioned. And that's precisely what we aim to do with the article below.

Especially for you, we've selected 5 trends that consistently reappear and raise doubts for us. These revolve around the role of AI and TikTok, as well as authentic influencer content, social media search, and long-form video. We don't claim to have all the answers, but we're eager to open up the discussion. Perhaps you can continue it by the coffee machine. Happy reading!

1. ChatGPT won't replace your copywriter

We confess! Like many, we've experimented with ChatGPT. Each time, we were both amazed and disappointed simultaneously. The depth of information an AI tool can gather about, say, the culinary offerings of a destination, and then present it in the right format within a fraction of a second is undeniably impressive. However, after the initial enthusiasm, there was always a reality check: no matter how rich the information, we missed the creative language that distinguishes an informative piece from an engaging read. The so-called 'human touch' that keeps us reading was lacking. Moreover, the human reasoning required for persuasive arguments is challenging for AI to simulate. Do we believe tools like ChatGPT will never become commonplace? Certainly not. They'll undoubtedly become part of our daily lives! But we're less convinced that they will take over our jobs.

2. TikTok won't become the dominant social media channel

This is a bold statement, we realize. TikTok has been bombarding us for several years now. Admittedly, the Chinese social media platform has swiftly carved its place among the Facebooks, Instagrams, and others. In fact, it prompted these established platforms to reinvent themselves. TikTok's rapid ascent firmly established short-form video, even leading Instagram to heavily promote video content via reels. However, the big question remains: can TikTok break through to 'the masses' and not just Gen Z? TikTok being a Chinese company has led Western governments to caution against installing it on smartphones. This might put a damper on TikTok's further growth. Moreover, there's already a trend towards reduced social media usage, even among young people. Such shifts are more detrimental to newcomers than established platforms. Hence, we believe TikTok's steep growth will gradually plateau in the coming years and won't attain the dominant position many ascribe to it.

3. Authentic influencer content won't prevail in travel

This might require some elaboration. Isn't the strength of social media and influencer marketing rooted in authenticity? We all follow influencers because they offer us a glimpse into their lives and share their experiences firsthand, unfiltered, right? But does this hold true in travel? In recent years, influencers have faced increasing criticism for presenting popular crowded destinations as desolate wonders of nature. Consequently, travelers often feel disillusioned when they visit these destinations, inspired by the idealized images shared by influencers. There's a call for a more realistic portrayal of destinations. But is this feasible, considering influencers often visit destinations at the invitation of a tourism board, and they achieve higher engagement rates by sharing dreamy images? Do consumers truly want to face reality, or do they need those dreamy visuals for inspiration, even if they might not always align with reality? We're not convinced that 'authentic influencer content' will effectively break through in the travel segment.

4. Social media won't replace Google as a search engine

Roughly half of Gen Z uses TikTok as their primary search engine. That's substantial. However, claiming that Google is done as a search engine due to this is a bit too hasty. The enriching information provided by Google as a search engine isn't easily replicated one-to-one by social media. We believe that an AI tool like Chat GPT taking over as the primary search engine in the future is more likely, owing to machine learning technology that delivers accurate and comprehensive information beyond the fragmented output of a social media search. Until then, we give Google the benefit of the doubt, aware that they're also experimenting with AI.

5. Long-form video isn't obsolete

As mentioned earlier: TikTok set the trend for short-form video, and everyone else seems to follow suit. Short, snackable content catering to our shortened attention spans reigns supreme, especially on social media. But does this mean we should altogether discard long-form video? We don't think so, especially not in travel, where storytelling often requires more than 10 seconds. There shouldn't even be a choice between short and long-form video. Both can coexist perfectly. Just as a teaser can prompt people to watch a feature film, short-form videos on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube Shorts can inspire viewers to delve deeper into a landing page showcasing the entire story visually. Hybrid campaigns that create both horizontal and vertical video content, presented in both abbreviated and extended forms across suitable channels, should become the new standard in our opinion.

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