Dr Paul Marsden

Sara McCorquodale

‘Building a social media profile will pay off in future’

Luxury travel companies must invest in social media to build their future brand profile, according to digital trends expert Sara McCorquodale. “Social media isn’t a flash in the pan,” she said. “This is something you have

to invest in in a genuine way so that in 10 years’ time you have amassed 50,000 to 100,000 people who adore your brand.” McCorquodale, founder and

‘Luxury travel to be like sex robots: ever-more intimate’

Technology for the travel industry will become more ‘human-like’ as consumers become more open to dealing with robots in all aspects of their lives – even sex.

Consumer psychologist Dr Paul

Marsden, of digital communications agency Syzygy, told delegates sex robots were a good metaphor for the future of technology in travel as they are “intimate, personal and humanised”. His analogy was based on the findings of a survey by his agency of 6,000 people in the US, UK and Germany, 34% of whom said they would trial a sex robot. The figure was lower for UK

respondents at 29%, comprising 40% of men and 20% of women. Marsden said: “Artificial

intelligence [AI] has the potential to transform luxury travel. “We found people were open

to digital being more part of their lives, and their sexual lives. There is interest in this technology and openness to sex robots. “The future of social media is

intimate, personal and humanised. 30 August 2018 13

This is what I mean when I say the future is sex robots. The future of luxury travel is sex robots – it is intimate, personal and humanised.” He urged the industry to

look beyond Instagram and Facebook and think about artificial intelligence as a way of communicating and meeting holidaymakers’ needs. The travel sector is already using AI “to an extent”, added Marsden, citing a hotel in Japan staffed by robots and Amazon’s new Alexa Skills for hotel guests

to use as an ‘in-room concierge’. Syzygy’s survey showed

most respondents wanted their concierge to have a female voice, be emotionally intelligent and have a sense of humour. Conscientiousness was the most-wanted personality trait. Marsden added: “The future

is about experiences, but it’s also about how we make the extraordinary accessible. “As a luxury industry, we need

to make friends with robots. We need to get into bed with them – metaphorically.”

chief executive of Corq, an on- line platform of digital ‘influenc- ers’ that gives insight on social trends, said businesses should experiment to find out what works best for their brand. She urged them to invest in online videos, publish content, share others’ posts and create groups to invite consumer questions. McCorquodale suggested

Facebook and Instagram would work best for travel brands. “Facebook will give you the

largest choice of people seeing your brand,” she said. “There is a broader and older audience. “If you’re aiming for the top

1% [of luxury spenders], they probably don’t use Instagram – but their children and PAs are using it. If you need to streamline, give up Twitter.” Rather than telling one story

across platforms, she suggested looking at what works on each.

Booking values rise in ‘positive but not amazing’ market this year “Last year we had a dip, so it makes sense. This

The luxury market has grown despite being “more sensitive to Brexit” than mainstream holiday sales. Ruairidh Roberts, Google’s senior industry head

of travel, said luxury holiday queries were up year on year although the market had been “seriously affected” by Brexit, as holidaymakers waited for the pound to regain value before booking. He said: “The luxury market is more sensitive to the negative impacts of Brexit. The ‘leave’ result temporarily put them off booking a holiday.

year has been promising but there is room for improvement. It’s positive but not amazing.” The Travel Bureau director Jeanne Lally said her

agency had seen higher average spend this year and a change in the destination mix, with more packages including cruises. Carrier managing director Mark Duguid reported

strong early bookings and double-digit growth in average booking values this year.

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