Pictured: Steve Sponder, MD of Headstream
A survey of 2,000 people has found that younger generations rank ‘storytelling’ as some of the most important digital content from travel brands, along with special offers and discounts.
The research, by digital marketing agency Headstream, aimed to identify what makes people more interested in a travel brand and what influences this interest.
When asked what type of digital content they most want to see from travel brands, the most popular response overall was discounts and special offers – 62%.
However, nearly half of customers – 40% – want humorous, dramatic or heart-warming stories, making storytelling the second most popular choice overall.
The research also found that all consumers, and especially younger audiences, wanted stories more than product reviews and ratings or hints and tips.
This idea of storytelling seems to have a clear impact on the bottom line, with 55% of consumers stating that they would consider buying from a brand if they like a story it has told.
The study found that travellers are just as likely to want to see content produced by their peers as material made by the brand itself – 51% prefer user generated content, while 49% want to see content created directly by travel companies.
Two thirds of consumers prefer content to be about regular people rather than celebrities or the company’s staff.
Steve Sponder, managing director of Headstream, said: “Travel brands have begun to make broader use of storytelling in their online content and videos, but there’s clearly a lot more that they can do to engage their customers. Stories can be funny, or they can be dramatic and inspirational.
“This research suggests that one of the key areas these businesses need to explore further is ‘advocacy content’ – getting their customers themselves to tell the stories of why and how they used that particular hotel or resort or airline, why they loved it and why they’d do it again.
“With the travel industry particularly keen to attract millennials and expanding their presence on social networks to target younger consumers, it seems stories could be one of the best ways to appeal to those people.”
As for the type of stories people want to see and hear, video was the most desired method, with photos second and written articles third. The popularity of video is thought to have been fuelled in part by the increase in smartphone use and social networks that enable consumers to easily share footage.
Sponder continued: “Millennials have been brought up on stories – retailers and food brands that create whole narratives around their products that can be enjoyed and shared online.
“Travel brands need to develop and craft their own stories if they want to remain visible and relevant to those key demographics.”