The leaders of the tourist business and experts discussed current trends during special sessions. According to the speakers, turbulence continues in the industry and despite the gradual recovery of the outbound tourist flow due to the re-opening of different destinations for Russian tourists, a full recovery and return to the pre-pandemic level earlier than 2024 are unlikely.
Russian tourists are seeking for emotions, unique (nature) experiences – and shorter trips
- Emotions and experiences have been the main motivation for tourists over the past few years. At the same time, over the past two years, there has been a reduction of the length of the trips with an increase in their number. So, if 10 years ago a Russian's vacation averaged 12-14 days, now the average duration is 7 days, but at the same time, 2-3 day weekend trips have become quite popular.
- Nature and wildlife tours are also in demand nowadays (or integration of the nature theme, although the infrastructure is still poorly developed in Russia, for instance, hiking and trail markers are not always available), as well as trips to the neighboring regions by car or railway, themed railway and river cruises across Russia including accommodation, meals, entertainment and sightseeing.
- The Agency for Strategic Initiatives representative identified several key trends in her speech: the promotion of the travel product should be for a specific target audience. Tourists are now especially attracted by nature and free independent travel, therefore, it is important to create conceptual routes: "people go to people" that implies not just a set of sights and attractions in the tour programme but immersion in the life of locals (culture, food, lifestyle, local businesses, etc.).
- Russian tourists carefully study the description of the accommodation and the section "the price includes". When pricing, it is very important to be competitive both in terms of the programme content and in terms of the price-quality ratio, as well as to publish feedback and special offer with discounts. The director of the Regional Tourism Development Center emphasizes that when creating a successful product, it is essential to bear in mind the portrait/archetype of the end user. It helps to understand the motivation and needs of the target audience. It is also important to use the principles of drama (as when writing a script for a film): the more storylines causing different emotions are, the more memorable the tour will be.
Segmentation and impressive marketing important for commercial success
- According to the top managers of several large tour operator companies, working with the premium and VIP segment helps companies to survive, as this is the most stable audience even if this group counts no more than 10% of customers.
- According to the observations over Russian domestic travel, the customer has not changed in the segment of sightseeing tours (this is the same audience that chose the local destinations before the pandemic), but the number of requests for beach vacations within the country has increased due to those who could not travel abroad. And after the opening of currently closed destinations, some tour operators predict an inevitable decline in domestic tourism (up to 25%), because Russian tourists are conservative, they miss the closed countries, and foreign tourist products are unique and not replaceable.
- According to Yandex analytics, hotels remain the most popular category for travel search queries, next in popularity are flight tickets. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, Russians were more often looking for trips and tours for 10 days, now they are searching for 3-day trips. The traveler's profile in 2021: women (59%), age of 25-44 (previously the core of the audience was 25-35 years old). Most of them are married couples (54%) with children from 6 to 16 years old (34%).
- Several presentations were made on new travel product development and its promotion. According to the speakers, it is critical to take into account the following points: the beauty of the place (storytelling with strong visual image and minimum text), food, new emotions for resetting (mind, spirit and body), and communication with the locals. It is worth to include many different activities in an adventure tour so that a tourist could choose what is most interesting to him or her.
- According to experts, a static bright and light picture with contrasting colors successfully sells best. Photos with landscapes work better than photos with people. The title should inspire, be short, but clear and avoid clichés.