Words by Will Turner, Hg2 Content Lab
At HG2 we have a little black book of thoroughly researched travel trends for 2023: sustainability; slow-travel; skip-gen travel (grandparents and grandkids); increased spending on less trips; working holidays. That’s our job; we’re experts at it.
But the extent to which these trends should dominate your content is tricky.
As a society, we appear to be locked in an endless cycle of trends, and trend forecasters. What is the next big new thing going to be? If we don’t completely pivot towards this trend will we be left behind? It can get exhausting.
Your audience feels the same. We live in the world of the lifestyle brand, and consumer spending saying something about the customer’s values and identity. But what if they make the wrong choices? Does this make them bad, or worse, stupid? What customers want is to attach themselves to brands who seem above all the chatter, who have the confidence not to blow in the wind.
If we were to identify one trend for the future it is the anti-trend trend. The luxury hospitality space is seeing a resurgence back towards pioneering, blockbuster brands that have such a weight of legacy that they appear unmoved by ever-changing modern whims. The Dorchester; The Four Seasons; Orient Express. Martinis; french haute cuisine; silver service; dress codes that have to be adhered to; Marco Pierre-White; Diet Coke art director Kate Moss.
Of course, when you speak to anyone associated with these brands you find out they pay extremely close attention to current trends and market forces. But that is all internal – their communication with the world centres on a self-confidence that their brand is strong enough to resist short term trend cycles. Form is temporary, class is permanent.
Of course we write articles that are informed by trends – in travel, in culture, in SEO. But we only do so when these trends genuinely resonate with core brand values that existed prior to them being the current thing. Our piece for Rocco Forte Hotels, on travelling between two cities by train, exemplifies this. Train travel is in vogue now, but the great European train journey has history, glamour, authenticity. We are not writing about the experience as a fad, but as a continuity with the past.
Progressive values are of course non-negotiable: sustainability; community engagement; inclusivity. But guests expect these as standard; not a selling point but a bare minimum. If your content focuses on sustainability you have to be going above and beyond. What genuine steps are you taking to make the world a greener place? How are you encouraging guests to arrive by train, not plane? If not, then recycle your waste, install some solar panels, keep quiet about it.
Your brand confidence, as expressed in content and marketing communications, rubs off on your customers. Being too nervous about being out-of-touch rubs off too.