Skift and Smartling Take Flight: Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016

Travel and hospitality brands are faced with unprecedented opportunity. The industry is booming. More travelers are coming to the market for the first time – largely from China – and technology continues to be a game changer for an industry that is always on-the-go. Brands now have dozens of mediums by which they can communicate with their customers and acquire new ones.

There’s no better way to keep up with the industry than to follow Skift as your primary newsfeed. Skift is the largest media intelligence platform that identifies global travel trends – from online booking and travel technology, to loyalty programs, consumer insights and innovative marketing initiatives.

Smartling is excited to announce Skift as a new partner to discover best practices in global content management for brands looking to acquire new customers and nurture those who are loyal to the brand. Keep an eye out on for the first piece of content launching next week.

Skift’s 2016 Megatrends

Skift releases a beautiful magazine every January entitled, “Megatrends that Define Travel in 2016.” Smartling attended the launch party and is particularly excited by several themes Skift highlighted there and on their website, and here are five favorites:

Megatrend #1: The numbers all point up

Skift reports that all contributions by travel and hospitality to the global economy reached $7.58 trillion – yes with a ‘T’ – in 2014, and this is expected to rise to $11.38 trillion in 2025 (World Travel and Tourism Council). Even as the global economy expands, all contributions to it from travel and hospitality jumps from 9.8 percent to 10.5 percent of total global GDP.

In case you missed it, that means for every $10 produced in the world, across countless verticals and all countries, at least $1 will soon be travel-related.

Megatrend #2: Eyes are on mobile

In The State of Mobile Booking 2016, Skift looks at one of the hottest cross-vertical topics – the maturity of the smartphone revolution. Consumers are already more comfortable making purchases or performing day-to-day banking tasks on their mobile device. Travel and hospitality brands are seeing growth in mobile bookings, too.

“OTAs and travel brands are improving their mobile offerings to make it easier for travelers to make arrangements and conduct transactions on-the-go.”

This is all well and good for the end user, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make this a seamless experience. This is no small task, and many travel and hospitality brands are rapidly adopting new technology to keep pace with the on-demand economy and a mobile-first generation.

Megatrend #3: Direct bookings mini-revival

Speaking of bookings, in the recently released magazine, The Megatrends Defining Travel in 2016, Skift reported direct bookings on hotel websites and mobile devices was “trending up” in 2015 (Atmosphere Research Group). In fact, direct bookings account for 25 percent, as opposed to OTAs’ 20 percent share.

Hotel groups are making direct bookings a little sweeter with added value and loyalty perks:

“In 2016, Marriott and Starwood, as well as Hilton Worldwide, and InterContinental Hotels Group, are all expanding options for loyalty program members to bypass front desks and use smartphones for keyless room entry.”

Other perks like free Wi-Fi, early check-ins, or late check-outs are often available when the consumer books directly with the hotel group. Hotel groups will continue trying to figure out how best to communicate their offerings and loyalty programs to consumers around the world, and this will be a recurring theme in Smartling and Skift’s collaboration.

Megatrend #4: 360-degree data-based views

Inspired by healthy competition, travel and hospitality groups have become more savvy to acquire the modern traveler, and marketers have more insight than ever into customer behavior and preferences.

Skift believes: “a 360-degree view into customer behavior opens up a huge number of possibilities for travel marketers, from leveraging a larger number of channels more effectively, to making the growing amount of consumer data more actionable.”

This is an exciting trend. For one, 31 percent of CRM technology is now in the cloud (Centaur Partners). Organizations that have scale – like global travel and hospitality brands – adopt cloud technology to achieve a more dominant position. It’s agile and accessible.

Smartling obviously thinks cloud technology plays a big role in content marketing to create personalized brand experiences with all of this new intelligence, and is working with Skift to uncover how a centralized, cloud-based platform can further enable travel and hospitality brands to be agile content creators in any language.

Megatrend #5: The rise of the Sky Hero

Everyone understands that traveler and guest choices are limitless. They control the date, duration, destination, transportation, accommodation and activity. But Skift and Virgin Atlantic see a new traveler persona emerging. Yes, choice puts the consumer in charge, but as Skift and Virgin point out, there is an evolving mindset from “strictly business” to “epic adventure.”

They’ve coined this “the rise of the Sky Hero.” The Sky Hero, empowered even by their business travel, emerges transformed – the experience they gained from other cultures gives them a real advantage in business, and also improves their personal lives.

While The Sky Hero concept may relate to business travelers today, it is already true for the leisure traveler. Smartling will be capturing the ongoing excitement of the travel and hospitality industry by using #destinationSmartling, and encourages you to participate.

Learn more

Download the Travel and Hospitality Solutions Brief, or visit Smartling’s Resources page to gain further insights into how Smartling’s Technology can help your brand accelerate the translation and localization process, while learning about best practices for translation processes, tools, technology, management, how to select the best translation software, and more.