This year ABTA’s annual Travel Convention celebrated its 60th anniversary. Each year the event is developed around discussing travel in the context of world events, consumer behavior, the latest in the travel industry, new technology, marketing innovations and networking opportunities.
This week, for the first time, the event was held in Dubrovnik, Croatia at the Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel located on the Adriatic coast. Among the celebrated speakers were Kevin Mathers, MD of YouTube UK; Matt Warman, Head of Technology, The Telegraph; and Graham Hales, CEO of Interbrand London.
From a YOLO take on what inspires travellers to a session on “Tourism in an uncertain world,” speakers and panelists covered issues facing the travel industry from customer service to embracing digital technology. Graham Hales, talking about “Building a valuable brand in the connected world,” touched on digital technology, brand building and internal brand engagement.
Hales shared that a brand is more than an element of a communications strategy. It’s one unified vision that drives business performance, culture, experience and attitude. It becomes part of every aspect of what a business does and is, incorporated in all of its touchpoints, both internally and externally.
Hales noted the importance of internal brand engagement. Clearly and credibly communicating the brand to employees is critical. His advice? Be it. Do it. Say it.
With more choice in the post-digital world, the role of brand is more critical than ever. In order to create awareness and inspire not only consideration, but purchase in today’s noisy marketplace, strong brands must engage authentically throughout the customer journey.
As Hales pointed out, customer perceptions of brands are now significantly shaped through the influence of other customers in the digital world whether from online reviews or customer tweets. Hales asked, from booking a trip through the travel experience and to the post-holiday feedback “What are the ownable opportunities to amplify the brand?”
A brand needs to be about identifying customer needs, a real human personality that customers identify with and will seek out, values and a strong positioning, which all equal, as Hales said, “the most inspiring and compelling thing we can convey about the brand to this audience” or the “brand proposition.”
KLM’s Meet & Seat was an example Hales shared of integrating digital technology in a clever way to engage customers and create a personalized flight experience. Passengers have the option to share their Facebook and LinkedIn profile details and check out other participating passengers. Allowing passengers to customize what they share about themselves, learn more about fellow passengers, such as who is attending the same event, and even select a seat based on that information, creates a unique brand experience.
Also spotlighted was EatWith.com, a unique brand that creates an online global community inviting people to connect with hosts and fellow travellers for some homemade dinner experiences. EatWith hosts serve up meals from Whiskey Wednesdays in LA to dinner with a Michelin starred local chef in his home in Barcelona. Creating memorable and genuinely human experiences differentiates this brand.
Key takeaway? “Be human rich.”
Amy Edel-Vaughn is Interbrand's Community Manager.