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Marketing Wanderlust: Why the Thrill of Discovery Matters to Millennial Travelers

Boats ready for paddling on Lake Annecy, Talloires, France. Mark McKnight

This article is part of RootsRated's new "Adventures in Marketing" beat, covering the business of content marketing for the travel and tourism industry. We hope you enjoy it, and if you'd like to know more about how RootsRated helps companies connect with passionate outdoor enthusiasts, request a demo here.

There are thousands of travel websites, apps and blogs that help travelers arrange trips, transportation and treks around the world. Everything seems to be covered. But there is something important that ties together the most successful of these resources–the thrill of discovery!

A growing segment of travelers want to find new adventures, and smart travel marketers are using experiential content marketing to help these hyper-connected digital nomads find them.

A New Breed of Traveler

Consider this: The Millennial Traveller Report, released by the World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation, says more than 320 million trips abroad will be made by young travelers by the year 2020, an increase of 47 percent from 2013. Millennials are a bellwether for a new breed of traveler emerging across the board. Many modern travelers are not satisfied with lying around a beach for their entire vacation. They don't want to be perceived as tourists, and they're not interested in tourist attractions. Instead, they will invest significant amounts of money for a great experience: a cool restaurant, a massive music festival, a wild rafting trip or a unique hiking trail they've never seen before. They'd rather save money in other parts of their life to splurge on travel opportunities they believe will provide a special experience. A powerful way to reach this emerging group is content marketing.

Traditional Marketing Is Dying

Content marketing is a popular marketing method that focuses on creating relevant content that provides value, information and insight for a specific target market. It is effective because traditional marketing is increasingly ignored for the following reasons:

  • Consumers want to be heard, and traditional advertising goes only one way: from the brand to the consumer.

  • "Banner blindness" obscures messaging. Fourteen percent of consumers cannot recall what brand or product was in the display ad they last viewed, supporting the fact that most consumers don't notice many online marketing messages.

  • Traditional advertising tells consumers what to think, do and buy. By contrast, content marketing relies on consumers' input to create content they trust.

Experiential Content Marketing Engages Consumers

Rather than interrupting consumers with a product pitch, content marketing provides immediate take-away value. The result is high consumer engagement and long-term brand loyalty.

Further, the most effective travel marketing content to reach today's hyper-connected, always-on traveler is experiential–articles, videos, photos and written storytelling that delight them with newly-discovered adventures, give them a taste of what the experience is like and build anticipation for their own participation. For example, they might discover:

Prepare for every adventure. Where are you exploring this weekend? #mycraghoppers #discoveryourworld

A photo posted by Craghoppers (@craghoppersofficial) on

Tap into Available Research

It's useful to use research data to help determine the travel experiences your target market is interested in pursuing. For example, the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation mentioned earlier polled over 34,000 travelers from more than 130 countries. It discovered that younger travelers do not show interest in the traditional vacations of previous generations. Instead, they avoid major cities and focus on remote adventures and longer trips. They don't want to drive by boring tourist traps in a bus–they'd rather get outside into the community, meet people from the area, taste regional dishes and get the feel for the rhythm and cadence of everyday life in each locale. They immerse themselves in the culture and, with their smartphones always at their side, immediately post experiences on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, or location-based apps, such as Swarm, Yik Yak and Find My Friends.

Create Content Based on Insightful Research

This is the kind of research travel content marketers can use to get a clearer picture of what their customers really want in a travel destination. From there, it is simply a matter of creating compelling travel marketing content that gives your customers a real-life sense of what awaits them when they experience it themselves.

It's vital that destination marketing organizations and travel brands understand these trends in demographics, consumer behavior and marketing. This traveler does not want generic marketing that holds little relevance to their wants, needs, desires and aspirations. This new generation does not want a printed brochure with lists of attractions and phone numbers. It is a much better approach to create customized travel marketing content that fits their world view and thirst for unique travel experiences. They'll reward good storytelling with engagement, and often will share with their friends or tag them in comments.

The Journey Is the Reward

To reach this valuable and growing audience, use your content to put them in the middle of the action: chatting with a neighborhood food vendor in South Africa, peering into a volcano in Montserrat, watching street dancers do the tango in the streets of Buenos Aires or hiking Sweden's famous Kungsleden trail miles above the Arctic Circle.

Focus on engaging, immersive content marketing for travel that sparks their sense of surprise, wonder and adventure. They'll identify with your authenticity, originality and enthusiasm. The more you can put them "in the scene," the more their desire to experience it themselves will grow.

Once they go on the adventures you describe, they'll realize it is even better than expected, prompting happy social sharing across the web. You'll get better brand loyalty, consumer reviews, customer engagement and word-of-mouth buzz than you could ever hope to accomplish with traditional advertising.

RootsRated helps companies connect with passionate active travelers and outdoor enthusiasts through exclusive and syndicated storytelling; request a demo here.

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