Zehnder Communications, Inc.

Zehnder Attends Skift Global Forum

Skift Global Forum: Battling “Permanxiety” by Balancing Technology & Humanity

Traveling to and from New York to attend the Skift Global Forum in September was a breeze for our team, but perhaps that’s because everything was scheduled to a tee by the largest travel media intelligence organization in the world. According to Skift, our stress-free experience was unusual in today’s world, where travelers live in a state of “permanxiety.”

Permanxiety — that is, a permanent state of anxiety — exists at the intersection of the real and digital worlds. According to Skift, issues like terrorism, security, neo-isolationism, racial tension, technology, the widening economic gap, culture wars, climate change, and other geopolitical and local issues are just a few of today’s stressors, and digital platforms like social media fuel the fire 24/7. In a state of permanxiety, it’s no wonder that people crave stress-free vacations now more than ever. What can travel and tourism brands do to help them escape their anxiety?

After listening to dozens of industry thought leaders at the conference, it’s clear that a smart marketing strategy can help solve the permanxiety problem. Today’s travel brands must offer a true escape that’s relevant in terms of medium and relatable in terms of message — meeting consumers right where they are with both digital and personal content. When you find the right balance of technology and humanity, you’ll help consumers overcome the permanxiety that exists online and in person. Here are five ways to do it.

  • Stay accessible. Thanks to technology, travelers can plan a trip anytime, from anywhere — so it’s important that brands remain accessible at all times and on all platforms. Keep your brand at the front of travelers’ feeds through fresh content supported by paid advertisements. Work with online influencers to generate buzz about your destination. And lastly, make sure you connect with consumers by quickly replying to their comments and questions in a genuine, down-to-earth way. Speaking of which, it’s never a bad idea to get on the ground and interact with your target audience face to face. Like Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, said at the Skift forum: “Millenials aren’t immune to the desire to get a hug.”

  • Make your voice unique. As important as it is to be accessible, it’s also crucial to remain authentic. Stay true to your destination’s culture and voice, not only to stand out as a unique place to prospective travelers, but also to please local residents. Don’t be afraid to publish the #nofilter version of your area or ask permission from users to share and repost their content. Revealing the “raw” side of your destination will give your online presence a human touch. Brands like Tourism Australia have experienced huge success with this approach, relying on user-generated content to tell the true story of their destination (see their Instagram account, which boasts more than 2.5 million followers).

  • Try something new. Just because you have to remain authentic doesn’t mean you can’t be edgy. Get creative and try new technologies that make sense for your brand — or “disrupt yourself,” as Two Roads CEO Niki Leondakis put it. For example, we recently worked with Visit South Walton on a series of 360° beach videos showcasing the area’s sugar-white sand. Not only was the content a perfect fit for the destination and target audience, but the innovative approach made users excited to click and view more. Furthermore, the 360° view and unedited audio of the tides, gulls, and breeze allowed viewers to have a more personal experience and truly immerse themselves in the destination.

  • Emphasize the escape. Permanxiety means that travelers want to “get away” now more than ever. With stress levels high at places like airports, train stations, and event spaces, consumers want to unwind as soon as they set foot in their destination. Additionally, fears of overtourism have led travelers to avoid tourist traps whenever possible. Craft marketing messages that highlight “undiscovered” places in your destination where travelers can let go, unplug, and relax.

  • Make booking a breeze. Permanxiety doesn’t just exist when travelers are on the go — it’s present even during the planning phase. By making it easier for consumers to plan ahead, you’ll increase your chances that they’ll have a pleasant stay. Online sample itineraries, travel guides, and booking tools can all help travelers coordinate their trip in just a few clicks. Direct access to real people who can help with a personal touch is even better. Lillian Tomovich, Chief Experience Officer and CMO at MGM Resorts International, noted at the conference that travelers spend up to four times more when they receive personalized service.

Did you attend the Skift Global Forum and catch something we missed? Are you facing permanxiety at the thought of crafting your destination’s marketing plan? Get in touch. We’d love to talk about it.



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