Package holiday firms are now well-positioned to win new and younger markets, providing they can adapt their product offering. The pandemic has highlighted the value of package holidays with flexibility, financial protection and 24-hour service support, increasing demand for all-inclusive offerings. As travel restrictions begin to ease, travel firms selling package holidays now have an opportunity to attract a notoriously complex market, Generation Hashtag (people born between 1991 and 2005). Often utilising price comparison sites and independent booking channels, this market demands niche, unique experiences at an affordable price. Therefore, package holiday firms need to offer a more personalised service to meet their expectations and capitalise on this demographic.
A focus on experiences and activities is needed
Personalisation in travel is a key pull factor for Generation Hashtag. According to the Q12021 GlobalData global consumer survey, 56% of the Generation Hashtag demographic said they were ‘always’ or ‘often’ influenced by products and services tailored to their needs. These preferences have led to an increase in the popularity of niche tourism over the past decade, which tends to be much more experiential. However, niche tourism is extremely specific, making it a challenging type of tourism to target for package holiday companies that usually target mass tourism.
The pandemic has severely disrupted the niche tourism sub-industry, with independent bookings now considered risky due to the lack of financial protection offered. Many niche tourism experiences are also off-the-beaten-track, away from tourist areas. In today’s new normal, this is problematic, as many of these areas are now inaccessible due to travel restrictions. Herein lies an opportunity for large package holiday firms to use their expertise, supplier relations and online presence to create more fulfilled and secure niche experiences for Generation Hashtag.
Traditionally, package holidays offer flights, accommodation and transfers. Yet, many experiences within a destination are overlooked or sold separately at the destination by the package holiday firm. Offering alternative experiences at the time of booking or as part of the package could satisfy many younger tourists’ needs for more niche experiences. Examples include guided tours, food and wine tasting, cooking classes and ecotourism. To support this, marketing messages geared towards experience, exploration and local interaction will demonstrate to travellers that they will encounter the ‘real’ destination.
AI and Machine Learning could lead to more personalised package holidays
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning could help develop more dynamic packages which are appealing to Generation Hashtag. Questionnaires before online searches focusing on motivations, desires and social development could create more meaningful results which match their interests. This could also enable AI technology used by the holiday company to create algorithms, adding relevant touristic experiences as add-on purchases to holidays at the time of booking.
Should package holiday firms adapt to this market trend, we could see dynamic experiences incorporated into the package holiday business model. In this instance, the firm may sell pre-booked tours and activities based on the customer’s motivations and desires. There is a potential to market this as a ‘destination experience’ or ‘explorer’ option to help entice younger, more adventurous travellers. Capitalising on this opportunity will enable package holiday firms to build a solid, more robust customer base for the future as the industry moves out of the pandemic.