February 14, 2016

4 Ways Travel Brands can Improve Digital Marketing Strategy

by Malek Murison

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digital marketing strategy

The travel industry is changing, and your marketing strategy needs to change with it. Here are three ways you can make small tweaks to create a big return.

Appreciate a new generation of traveller

Travel customers shop in a different way to those in other sectors. Data has shown that sales and bookings tend to peak over weekends, which makes a lot of sense as that's the time when most people are free to sit down and make big holiday decisions. Because of this trend, travel brands should focus on beginning promotions on Monday with a view to making the sale by the following weekend. The chances are that, if you haven't engaged with that customer somehow during the week, you're not going to be getting their business come the weekend.

This is in part because research has shown that the average travel purchase occurs five days, 21 hours and 30 minutes after the first click. Much of this time is likely spent reading blogs or social media accounts from independent travel guides and experts. Because of this it's more vital than ever that agencies use an appropriate tone across all content marketing, and catch travellers at the right time and place in their booking journey.

Don't underestimate the rise of mobile

With an increasingly large Internet of Things at our disposal, travellers are browsing and researching from mobile devices more than ever. Because of this it's important to prioritise mobile-friendly strategies.

Research has shown that people look into holidays via multiple devices during the week, but that tablets are the most popular device from which bookings are completed over the weekend. The rise of mobile means that travel agencies have to be more agile than ever before, and even consider messaging platforms as medium for customer communication.

Use Customer Insights to your advantage

We all know that there is very little loyalty left in the travel industry. You can't rely on your customers coming back to you time and time again, and so need to harness industry insights more than ever before.

While the biggest key performance indicator will always be your sales totals, objectives need to be managed to ensure you're reaching full potential across the spectrum. For example, armed with the knowledge that weekends are busy for travel bookings, and most transactions happen over the course of 5 days, marketing efforts need to be focused on the beginning of the week. Use your budget to make the best of all information available to you, and be as agile as the customers you are trying to attract.

And as we've seen it's not just about when you should reach potential clients, but how and where. The market is more competitive than ever, so speak to travellers in their voice and through the right mediums. This may be as simple as ensuring your content is optimised for mobile devices, but could be as focused as setting up campaigns across messaging platforms, where evidence suggests most interactions are now taking place.

Understanding user behaviour is the key. Manage this, and you'll have a good chance of keeping up with the ever-evolving traveller of 2016.

Be Ahead of Marketing Trends

As a new generation of traveller begins to come into the market, advances in technology mean that the way you continue to reach people is going to have to adapt. One platform set to take the travel industry by storm in the coming years is instant messaging. Although membership and the number of active users on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter continues to grow, instant messaging is beginning to take the lead. More people now use Whatsapp than any other social service. Why not attempt to use this statistic to your advantage; it could even take your customer service to another level. You won't be the first or the last.

Airlines and hotels are already leading the way. Hyatt is on Asian service WeChat; Shangri-La uses the same platform for content marketing purposes. Airline KLM has tested WhatsApp for Dutch customers with positive feedback, and is considering further moves into instant messaging.

Speaking of the latest trends...

We've written several in depth articles on how some of the latest in technological innovation is set to transform the travel industry. One example is Virtual Reality. You might think that VR is almost the polar opposite of travel, and for many reasons you would be right. Virtual Reality allows people to experience other places form the comfort of their armchair. Fortunately for the travel industry, it's not yet as good as the real thing! Even more fortunate is the fact that Virtual Reality is allowing tourism agencies to give potential customers virtual tours of destinations and hotels before they book.

Aside from Virtual Reality, the world of robotics could also impact upon the travel industry sooner than you might expect.

Robots are already being used in Japanese hotels to deal with check-ins and aspects of customer service. If you visit Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, you will step into the world’s first hotel to be completely staffed by robots. That's right. 100% robots. At the front desk are two receptionists. One is a plastic, perfectly airbrushed woman. The other is a dinosaur. Oh, and both of them are robots. And apparently, travellers aren't overly upset by the idea of being dealt with by robots. Check out the link above to find out more.