With the holidays fast approaching, retailers are gearing up for a season to remember. But it’s vital to remember that a return to “normal” might not take us back to 2019. Instead, successful brands need to capitalize on consumer behaviors that have emerged and re-imagine their in-store experiences to meet the psychological and behavioral shifts expected in the upcoming season.
By the end of this article you’ll understand how to address the evolution of consumers’ beliefs and behaviors, as well as three things you must do if you’re dreaming of a green—as in profitable—holiday season, including:
Drive awareness of promotions and locations to optimize the output of brick-and-mortar and offset the operational costs related to eCommerce
Meet new consumer expectations for curbside pick-up / buy online, pick up in-store
Highlight core values and brand messages—and hyper-target based on customer segmentation
Augmented Reality (AR) is often conflated with Virtual Reality (VR), but they’re quite different. AR is when real-time computer-generated data is overlaid on an existing environment, whereas VR transports the user ‘into’ a computer-generated environment by using a headset.
Most of the world became aware of AR in 2016, via PokemonGo, a mobile game that allowed players to locate and capture Pokemon characters that appeared on their smartphone. Fast forward to 2021, these emerging technologies are gaining steam. In fact, the market for it will reach $766 billion by 2025, offering unique AR and VR based branding opportunities. Check out what these brands are doing.
In July 2020, National Geographic released an AR experience on Instagram that allowed users to ‘dress up’ as Everest climbers and climb the highest mountain in the world. When first launching the interactive filter, users will find themselves at 4815,84 m above sea level.
Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics brand promoted its range of lip products by rolling out custom Instagram filters equipped with AR capabilities that allowed users to try on her lipstick products virtually. Users can try up to seven of its most popular lip colours, which can be posted to their Instagram stories, either as a selfie, video, or Boomerang video.
Fashion brand Zara replaced mannequins for real-life models like Lea Julian and Fran Sommers to pose, strut, and speak virtually on users’ phone screens. To experience this, users download the AR Zara application and point their camera at designated spots.
With the ongoing pandemic, musicians are pivoting to virtual concerts. Partnering with Fortnite, Travis Scott successfully performed a 10-minute set of his hits in Avatar form. The event was watched by more than 12 million viewers, a record for a Fortnite event.
Virtual Reality Meetings
Platforms like Spatial, which enables meetings through AR or VR headsets, and Microsoft Mesh, where people meet virtually in avatar form, are offering a much more engaging experience than your average Zoom meeting.
VR technology allows potential buyers to see what it feels like to be in the house without actually being there. Sotheby’s Realty is offering virtual walkthroughs for iPhone and Android users who own VR headsets.
GREAT REPORT DESIGN IS DESIGN TOO
brilliant study on trends and evolution of aesthetics on — and by — YouTube. I mean, how juicy is this? It’s deceptively simple, like all good design: the background matches the aesthetic as you scroll, and the data viz is so on the money. Reminds me of what Spotify did with their Wrapped playlists at the end of the year.
WORSHIP YOUR FIRST 1000
Worship your truest believers. And treat your first 1000 customers like royalty. I’ve been reading this cool little newsletter called First 1000, about how founders got their first 1000 customers. You get a new case study in your inbox every week (past issues have included Slice, the pizza delivery people , Calm, Doordash, and Calm) and it’s a great way for us media folks to study different recipes for how product-market fit can work.
PRODUCT DESIGNER = GOOD LISTENER
Speaking of pizza: If you’re ordering pizza in Taiwan, Pizza Hut has some new toppings that include pig’s blood and century eggs. The new toppings aren’t a random decision by the management; they come from some serious product research, and what’s the best product research in the world? Asking your users what they want. So Pizza Hut scraped a mountain of social posts, and turned their findings of your most popular foods into… product, which in their case = toppings.
Interesting Marketing Video and Report
IBM has created a full content marketing package in a design magazine style — definitely not what one would usually associate with cloud tech. This shows the value in creating content of a high production value — people would want to read it.
Fantastico! Multiple styles of 2D and 3D animation creating a stunning graphical journey. Imagine using this for your showreel. Spanish speakers will probably be doubly impressed.
Painstakingly created stop motion film of flowers blooming (a staggering 14,000 shots per flower) to a fireworks soundtrack. How did anyone get sleep if they had to make sure to capture every bloom?
Almost a year ago, Amazon launched Amazon Explore, offering virtual tours led by locals. Now, the company is including small group experiences, so up to seven people can book and attend the same live experience together, but from different locations.
Breeze Airways is coming strong: just this week the company announced they will be buying 20 more Airbus A220 jets. “Breeze will take delivery of its first A220 next month, on October 26. After that, Breeze will take delivery of a total of 80 A220s at one per month for the next six and a half years.”
The NYC-based startup Headout has just raised $12 million to expand to new locations. Really inspiring to hear this conversation with Varun Khona (Co-Founder and CEO) to understand more about the business and their strategies.
Investing in travel post-pandemic
Chris Hemmeter is the founder of Thayer Ventures, one of the most active VCs in the travel ecosystem. He recently wrote an assessment on investing in travel post-pandemic: where are we now and what do the next 18 months hold. He highlights specific opportunities within the alternative accommodations, outdoors tourism and the remaking of the hotel tech stack. He also writes about how the travel technology as an investment category has now come into focus as a magnet for SPAC, private equity and greater venture investment.
What do Gen Z travelers want from online travel brands?
More Gen Z travelers booked air, hotel and car via an OTA than any other online channel like direct websites, metasearch or retail travel agent websites. More than 1/3 Gen Z travelers booked a dynamic package in 2020, the highest occurrence of any generation. Beyond OTAs, Gen Z travelers are more open to other intermediary options such as booking via Google or travel subscriptions. Nearly one in 10 Gen Z travelers reserved a hotel room in 2020 through Google’s booking function and 46% say they are likely to spend up to $100 annually to join a travel subscription service.
Proptech startup funding on track to break industry records in 2021
The expansion of accommodation models has given rise to new technologies and startups that address new needs by owners, property managers and other parties in the hospitality industry. Data released today by JLL suggests that opportunity abounds in the sector’s startup landscape, with over US$9.7 billion of funding activity in the first half of 2021, the most active first half on record. The number of startups across the real estate industry has grown in the past decade from under 2,000 to nearly 8,000. Access the detailed report (58 pages) here: Transform with technology – Shaping the future of real estate.
The Sequoia Guide to Pricing
A lot of startups treat pricing as a math problem or, worse, an afterthought (the average SaaS startup spends just six hours on its pricing strategy, according to Price Intelligently). Pricing is as much an art as it is a science, one that relies as much on marketing and psychology as it does on classical economics. This Sequoia Guide to Pricing covers strategies that can help you figure out the right price for your product—and end up with happier customers and more profit in the process. The guide offers actionable tips and a worksheet can help you assess your product’s perceived value and the accuracy of its price.
What exactly is AirAsia up to with its super app ambitions?
AirAsia continues on its quest to become one of Southeast Asia’s leading super apps with the launch of AirAsia Ride in Malaysia. AirAsia now offers food delivery, ride-hailing, flight ticket booking, grocery shopping, and an e-commerce platform for beauty products. Its new product lines are operating in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, with aspirations of rapid expansion into other countries, as AirAsia super app’s head of commerce Lim Ben-Jie explains in this interview with Tech Wire Asia.
Ads, privacy and confusion
Cookies are going away, but we don’t know what online privacy means or what happens next. The consumer internet industry spent two decades building a complex and chaotic system to track and analyze what people do on the internet, and we’ve spent the last 5 years arguing about that. Between unilateral decisions by some big tech platforms and waves of regulation from all around the world, all this is going to change. But we don’t have any clarity on what that means, or even what we’re trying to achieve, and there are lots of unresolved questions. Read more – Benedict Evans.
Exploring the role of cryptocurrency in travel
The fact that the travel sector has many layers of intermediaries makes it a potentially interesting space for companies to come up with new models and approaches using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. In this interview with PhocusWire, Rohit Talwar (CEO of foresight consultancy Fast Future) explores the potential for cryptocurrencies to create new opportunities for the travel industry. Talwar highlights some of the emerging crypto experiments in the travel sector and gives his view on who will be the winning brands and players.
Travel + Leisure Group launches a new subscription service
Wyndham Destinations rebranded to Travel + Leisure Co after its acquisition of Travel + Leisure in January 2021. It just launched a new subscription service called Travel + Leisure Club, offering members access to preferred pricing on itineraries inspired by Travel + Leisure magazine, concierge services and exclusive experiences for an introductory rate of $9.95 per month (regular pricing is $19.95). Savings average 25% off retail rates on more than 600,000 hotels and resorts as well as exclusive pricing on more than 345,000 activities, car rental and flights. The platform is powered by a “secret sauce” made possible through Wyndham Destinations’ $92 million acquisition of travel tech platform ARN in 2019 which includes supplier direct and third-party aggregated inventory. “That’s the reason we acquired ARN. That’s the core of our tech stack” said Travel + Leisure Group president.
Y Combinator travel startups
According to Marc Andreessen, General Partner of Andreessen Horowitz, “Y Combinator is the best program for creating top-end entrepreneurs that has ever existed.” The likes of Airbnb, Stripe, Dropbox, Coinbase and Rappi are alumni. Looking at the companies that are going through Y Combinator today could point to the leading companies (or categories) in the future. These are the Y Combinator travel and transportation companies since the beginning of the pandemic:
Ancana (Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico) – Marketplace to buy managed vacation homes through fractional ownership
Stayflexi (San Francisco) – Modern operating system for hotels and vacation rentals
Newzip (Nashville, USA) – Neighborhood advice from local experts
Tilt (Bengaluru, India) – Bike-share for Indian campuses
zingbus (Gurugram, India) – Platform for bus travel across Indian cities
Tippi (Mexico City) – Convert any Airbnb or hotel room into your next office
Ribbon (San Francisco) – Ticketing and payments for experiences
Kocomo, a Mexico City-based proptech startup, raised $56 million in debt and equity. Kocomo leverages technology to create a marketplace to purchase, own, and sell co-ownership interests in dream vacation homes.
South Korean H2O Hospitality, a hotel technology specialist, raised more than $30 Million in Series C funding. Its Series B investment of $7 million was announced 18 months ago.
MaaS Global closed a €11 million Series B, bringing its total raised so far to just under $75 million. The Finland-based startup is the creator of Whim, a planning app for ground transport services including buses, taxis and e-scooters.
Tickitto raised a seed round of $4.5 million. The UK-based startup offers an API for accessing tickets to events and other activities.
Montreal startup Angel Host closed a seed funding round of $5.2 million for its vacation rental technology.
Thatch, a mobile app that helps travel content creators monetize their content, closed a $3 million seed round.
Group adventure travel startup YouTravel.Me secured a $1 million funding. The startup uses a matchmaking algorithm to connect like-minded travelers for small group adventure trips organized by travel experts.
FLYR Labs acquired Faredirect and xCheck, two startups specialized in ancillary revenue and airfare marketing technology. These two acquisitions further strengthen FLYR Labs’ revenue management solutions for airlines. Congrats to these three companies, and particularly to xCheck and founder Tim Underwood, to whom I’m thankful for his sponsorship and support of this newsletter. Read more.
From September 27th to 30th Barcelona will host IAAPA Expo Europe: a part-expo, part-conference event focused on the leisure industry. Gotta keep the fun going in the travel industry, right? It’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in connecting with international attractions industry leaders and decision makers.
With the aim to become the market leader for environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism in Europe, DER Touristik and Deutsche Seereederei are joining forces. To kick-off, the joint venture will be responsible for the operations of 16 hotels and resorts, located in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Nice timing.
Launched right before the pandemic, Wanderlog helps travelers with the logistics of their trips with a platform that makes it easier to plan and share travel info – as an alternative for the combo: spreadsheet and copy+paste. And now the founders announced that they have just raised $1.5 million to further grow the platform and its features.
Thatch announced a $3 million seed round led by Wave Capital. The startup helps travel creators better connect to their followers and get money for their recommendations, tips and perspectives on travel experiences.
A luxury vacation home which has several owners – this is what a Mexico City-based startup makes possible through their business. And now Kocomo raised $56 million to advance on that goal.
Just today TNMT published a great leaderboard with an overview on the 75+ startups shaping the next era of aviation around the globe. Exciting to see new players taking on the opportunities that the crisis has opened up for the industry.
With travel restrictions still in “limbo mode” around the globe, many travellers are confused about testing and quarantine requirements these days. I’ve been really enjoying tools and graphics that aim to make life (and travel) easier these days, like Bloomberg’s Travel Tracker.
Offering more than 15,900 tours in over 130 countries around the world, YouTravel.Me now raised $1 million. The European startup plans to use the money to further develop their online platform for matching like-minded travelers to small-group adventures organized by travel experts.
I really enjoyed listening to this episode of Amadeus Travel Tech Talk where two employees share insights on four main travel trends identified by Amadeus. What they say can also provide indicators on what we all can expect for the travel industry during the rest of 2021.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Failure is unavoidable, and in fact very important, part of life. In our professional lives, we are guaranteed to experience at least a few failures, whether big or small. What we need to do is learn to harness failure, and use it to our advantage instead of letting it hold us back. But how? The key is to understand the upsides of failure – how does mastering it help us? And why shouldn’t we fear failure, but rather embrace it?
If you’re an iPhone user like me, you’re likely aware of how many hours you spend tapping and scrolling away each week thanks to a pesky Sunday morning push notification. And if this number is higher than you’d like to admit, it probably won’t come as a shock that two-thirds of eCommerce traffic now comes from mobile, a number that has been consistent globally for the past 12 months and rising YoY for the last decade.
However, traffic doesn’t always translate into conversions. In fact, despite mobile making up the majority of traffic, desktop sites continue to yield higher conversion rates. Many of today’s consumers feel increasingly frustrated by lackluster mobile experiences yet desire the ability to browse and shop on the go. Therefore, especially as the rate of digitization continues to accelerate, it’s up to brands to make the right investments to meet consumer expectations and recover potentially compromised revenue.
With the right personalization and optimization strategies in place, organizations can start seeing mobile AOVs reach those of desktops. Below, learn about four key ways your company can start driving mobile engagement and conversions.