According to TripAdvisor, one in three travelers plan to spend more on their travel this year than they did last year. How can you best utilize your marketing budget to ensure that you are getting a piece of this massive travel pie?
Communicate often to drive loyalty
Increasing customer loyalty is a major concern for travel marketers and for good reason: “It’s a lot easier to keep the customer you have and grow them than it is to find a new customer,” says Atmosphere Research Group’s Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and advisor.
Customers actually want travel brands to know and communicate with them—getting tailored offerings from brands you love is a win-win for everyone. Consider multi-touch communication to drive loyalty, including:
- Email customers to invite them back with a special offer.
- Send a mobile notification to customers who you know book city breaks. Suggest other cities worth exploring over the upcoming long weekend.
- Reach out while customers are in destination with recommendations through mobile.
Keeping in regular contact with customers is important to drive loyalty. Additionally, it tailors the experience to their preferences, which keeps them coming back.
Tap into the power of prospecting
So, you’re keeping your current customers happy, what about getting new ones? You can’t create customers out of thin air, so attracting new ones often means stealing them from the competition. Luckily, alternatives are powerful in travel. Harteveldt points out that one out of five travel planners don’t actually know where they want to go when they start searching for a vacation destination.
With a prospecting strategy, you can reach in-market travelers using their own search intent signals. For example, if a traveler is looking for a beach holiday to the Dominican Republic, you can use that knowledge to suggest your resort in Mexico instead by placing custom ads for your hotel in front of them. With prospecting, marketers drive incremental bookings and new customers.
Make it easy to book direct
Driving direct bookings is more challenging and expensive than ever before. But the good news is that customers want to book with you: over two-thirds of people believe that it’s easier to book direct than through a third-party, and 64% believe that booking direct saves them money.
Here are some ways to encourage direct bookings from your customers:
- Email or ping customers with a discount on future direct rebookings
- Ensure your online advertising creative has a clear Call to Action (CTA)
- Partner with companies with the expertise to drive people directly to your site.
Speak to your customers on an emotional level
Every traveler has two wallets. The first is their base wallet, where people search multiple sites over several days for the cheapest possible airfare or hotel. The second is the ‘optional’ wallet, where the savings made on the initial booking are eliminated through upgrades and ancillary purchases.
According to Harteveldt, over half of all people say travel is an excuse to indulge in these extra niceties. And the optional wallet is accessed at the emotional level, where your customers are looking to book the best trip possible.
Imagine returning home from a long day at the office, stressed about everything you need to finish before you leave on holiday. You then receive a text message from your airline, offering you a discounted upgrade to business class. Chances are, after the stresses of the day, you’d be likely to take advantage of this offer. Marketers have more opportunity than ever to reach customers in the lead up to travel and should upsell when possible.
Travel brands increasingly utilize online marketing. It’s a powerful tool to reach new customers, keep existing ones, and increase your brand’s awareness. But you have to use your marketing spend strategically to make the most of it.
Luckily, Sojern has the travel marketing tools to build your brand’s digital footprint, or enhance your existing one. With our suite of products and services, we are helping travel marketers reach in-market travelers and ultimately, achieve their marketing goals. Get in touch to find out more!