Do you ever browse through your Instagram feed and stumble across that one person that always seems to be on the road? One month they’re hanging with baby elephants in Thailand. The next, they’re eating tapas in Spain. Soon after that, they’re gazing over the Grand Canyon.
Known as Travel Enthusiasts, these explorers are always seeking their next adventure, and they strive to make it as authentic as possible.
It’s important that marketers get to know them well: In a recent Hipmunk survey, 72% of millennials reported that they plan on increasing their leisure travel in 2016 – more than any other generation. And according to a 2015 Marriott Rewards Credit Card study, local culture is an important facet to 44% of millennial travelers when deciding where to travel.
Here at Curalate, Client Success Manager Kristen Levenick is our Travel Enthusiast. Over the last couple years, we’ve seen Kristen’s wanderlust take her to Thailand, Colorado, Costa Rica, and the mountains of Pennsylvania, among other places.
I chatted with Kristen to get inside the mind of a Travel Enthusiast, and to interpret how marketers can reach this segment of consumers. Here’s what she had to say.
What are your favorite social platforms?
Definitely Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
My Twitter is for conversation, advice, content, networking. I’ve gotten some great travel advice just by casting out a tweet for recommendations or questions about a new destination.
I see my Instagram account almost as a visual diary; combining my passion for creating interesting imagery with a means through which to share and relive exciting things I’ve done.
And finally, while I spend time carefully editing photos to showcase on Instagram, I use Snapchat heavily to share funny or exciting moments with my close friends. It’s also fun on a trip to save my Snap Story each day and relive the trip weeks later through those short snippets.
What are your favorite brands to follow on social channels?
My favorite brands to follow on Instagram are Airbnb, Forever 21 and VSCO. You can’t get much better than Airbnb for adventure and travel inspiration. Forever 21’s imagery spans so many styles, and is always inspiring me to try new looks (especially with a specific destination in mind!). And, VSCO’s beautifully edited imagery is unmatched.
How would you describe your travel style?
I’m a notorious over-packer, so backpacking for my first time was a real challenge, but has since inspired me to keep things light when I travel. It leaves more room for souvenirs, and gives me an excuse to buy something cute if I don’t have the right outfit.
As far as accommodations, it really runs the gamut. I love the sense of adventure I feel when I’m staying in a lesser known hostel or a really unique Airbnb, but on the flipside, who doesn’t love spending a little time at a luxurious resort?
Historically, I’ve taken trips with large groups of friends, all converging from cities across the U.S. for destination reunions, but more recently my trips have been with smaller groups to allow for more agility with our plans. My next goal is to go somewhere completely on my own and really put myself out there!
How do you conduct research on where to visit next, where to stay and what to explore?
I’m obsessed with planning trips using Pinterest boards to collect resources, tips, maps, etc. all in one place. I read a lot of personal travel blogs once I’ve decided on a destination, and I use tools like TripAdvisor to find out about some of the “can’t miss” attractions unique to the locale. From there, I go crazy trying to cram as much of it as I can into the length of my trip. I have just as much fun researching and planning my trips as I do actually going on them (seriously! #nerd).
What do you love most about being a Travel Enthusiast?
The one thing I’ve learned about travel is that it’s not so much about where you go or stay as it is about what you do when you get there. Travel at its core is about exploration. Whether it’s taking a plunge off the highest bungee jump in Central America and riding an elephant (check and check), or simply venturing to less tourist-y areas and trying the local fare; putting yourself out there and trying new things is what makes travel so exciting.
Go Forth and Venture
Now that we’re inside the mind of a Travel Enthusiast, let’s explore three takeaways that travel marketers can learn from Kristen:
1. Simplify planning for them. Kristen mentioned that her travel plans often run the gamut. When she recently decided to go backpacking for the first time, it posed a bit of a challenge because she was accustomed to over-packing for other trips.
Travel marketers should take this into consideration, and frequently create content that makes it easier for Travel Enthusiasts to plan their trips. Herschel Supply Co. is a fantastic example of a brand that does this well. Via the #WellPacked hashtag on Instagram, the brand creatively shows fans snapshots of items to take with them on a trip.
Beyond Instagram, marketers could also use microsites and Pinterest boards to ensure travelers are considering all of their options when planning.
2. Inspire travelers. There are myriad ways to inspire Travel Enthusiasts – whether it involves showing off a destination, an attraction or even the kind of clothing they can rock on an upcoming trip. These facets, and more, comprise the ultimate travel experience.
The trick to making a lasting impression is to highlight the unique aspects of a product or service. Airbnb is well known for doing this – constantly sharing the most stand-out properties.
While not every brand has a catalog of original, user-generated inventory like Airbnb, there are always ways to show consumers how a brand can help them have a one-of-a-kind travel experience. For example, a clothing retailer can illustrate how one blouse can take a traveler from exploring the city during the day to hitting the nightlife scene in the evening.
3. Implement Snapchat as a branding tool. Not only does Kristen use the app while traveling to share moments with her friends back home, she also enjoys saving her Stories to later re-experience parts of her trips. These habits open the door for travel brands to join and facilitate visual conversations on Snapchat.
W Hotels, for example, launched unique filters for guests to use while they are on W properties. As travelers share moments with their followers back home, their friends will see what an awesome time they’re having at that W Hotel location.
Another strategy is to actually create a branded Snapchat account, and to publish content to a Story throughout the day. This will benefit travelers who are seeking a dose of inspiration, and it is a great way to connect with people who are actively exploring the destination.
Next Stop on The Journey
The travel industry has changed in major ways over the past few years — from marketing on Instagram to partnering with influencers for live streams. To learn more about the type of imagery that engages all segments of travel consumers download our guide Creativity on the Fly: The Rise of Lifestyle Content for Travel Brands.