Ours is an industry of contradiction…
Travel is the most wonderful thing to market but it’s equally challenging. Just about everyone in the world loves to travel, wants to travel and dreams about travel. Easy job, right? But travellers are overwhelmed by a multitude of prospects and more information than they know what to do with. There’s also a growing number of regular folks out there believing they’re quite capable of making their own travel arrangements, with their Internet connection and willing credit cards.
One thing we don’t need is the continued archaic thinking and methods of some travel professionals who still believe it’s them versus the world, inadvertently sabotaging our collective efforts. Travel marketing needs to move decisively ahead into the future.
So you’ve got these fabulous products to sell and here’s the challenge: what’s the journey you take from your raw product to becoming a traveller’s first and only choice of travel brand? It’s the road towards tourism marketing success. The quest to produce, present and promote the right content. Lucky for us, the traveller is an absolute glutton for good content.
At the risk of sounding like a parrot, have you built your content around the traveller? Your research needs to be on point. Identify who your client is, what they want, like and dislike. So when you’ve dug into that consumer data, you don’t miss the opportunity to personalise those offerings to match the traveller’s bucket list travel experiences. Produce the experience, then produce the content that touches the traveller on an emotional level.
Understanding the digital imperative throughout the travel buyer experience means evolving in our business practices and travel products along with our evolving traveller. Take advantage of some of impressive technological innovations making waves in the trade – collaborate with the right travel technology to address your traveller’s needs better with useful Apps and integrations.
Real-time messaging, like the facility offered by Umapped, is just one fabulous example that comes to mind, that is focused on extending that personal attention from travel professional to traveller.
Package your experience with seamless end-to-end service as part of the product.
In order to make a solid connection between your product and the prospective client, your content has to be relatable and authentic. Tell the story the traveller wants to live. The discourse is all about moving your audience, inspiring them, seducing them, and of course, educating them. Your content needs more than a pretty face, it also needs substance. So don’t be negligent about the content you source. It needs to be vivid – a sensory onslaught.
Best place to get it is from your preferred Suppliers. Collaborate and communicate with them – get them on board with your mission to win travellers’ hearts.
It’s the content that inspires the sale.
The content you use to package your product needs to be the best available:
- Photographic works of art that instill trust
- 360 degree images and film
- Full screen width imagery in high definition
- Videos of accommodation, destinations and activities
- Honest, accurate, descriptive text in your client’s own language
Visual imagery is far too important in telling the story of your experiences to leave to chance. It’s the fabric that clothes the product you wish to sell, that your client wishes to purchase. So make sure you dress it well.
Sure there are still people who love paper, but the tide is turning strongly in favour of digital. Everything’s got to be mobile-friendly. That’s almost a given at this stage. Hence my constant parroting on about the importance of having a mobile strategy. And most certainly a sturdy, user-friendly web presence. Here’s a frightening statistic: 20% of tourism providers in Australia have no website at all, according to Amadeus. I shudder to think… That’s travel business suicide.
67% of smartphone users said they were more likely to purchase from a business’ mobile friendly site, while 61% said they’d most likely leave a site that wasn’t optimised for mobile.
Tourism Research Australia
Take a good, honest look at your website and judge its competency from the traveller’s point of view. Invest in a reputable web designer to review your site and/or re-design it to take your content where it needs to impress. This is where your brand lives and you’d better believe most travellers will judge a book by its cover… and how well it reads on their mobile device 🙂
Your presentation doesn’t end there. The traveller expects you to follow through with innovation – technology is meant to make travel buying easier and more convenient. More exciting, more motivating too. People are keener than ever to consume travel content in innovative, novel ways.
Virtual Travel is already part of our reality, by the way. Travel previews just got more vivid.
How are you delivering your content? Are the tools you use addressing your client’s expectations? And are they user-friendly? For that matter, are your tools efficient at passing along your content to agents or re-sellers?
I want to see what I’m going to experience.
When you present the experience, keep in mind the questions foremost in your traveller’s mind.
I want to know what I’ll be seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and learning..
And I want to access this information quickly, easily, anywhere and at any time I choose. I have special interests and I’m conscious of price and value for money. I probably want a book now option as soon as I’ve found an offering that matches my travel bucket list experience – I want it to be secure, with an easily navigable payment facility. Then I want confirmation of my booking immediately. Are there any Specials available for this experience I want?
A beautiful digital presentation is an obvious choice for the modern traveller. Access is as simple as clicking on a hyperlink. It says about a brand: we’ve kept pace with the changes in the travel trade.
You can count on us. Trust us.
We won’t be spamming you with Dropbox or a bunch of pesky emails with badly compiled, grainy, outdated images, leaving you guessing and forcing you to keep Googling the destination in question.
Nope, we’re actually interested and invested in covering all the bases, and servicing all your needs.
We’re even going to mind your tech savvy sensibilities and offer you an awesome App that guarantees you always have your travel details, vouchers, maps and documents handy, whether you have Internet access or not. We know that technology forms part of the experience, makes the various puzzle pieces of your journey fit together and the onus is upon us to connect it with you.
6 out of 10 millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things.
And they’re not alone. You’ve heard of them, the millennials – young consumers/travellers, who are slowly but surely dominating the scene. They’re a finicky lot and will require closer inspection on another day. But know this: experiential travel is a real phenomenon among all modern travellers.
The way to a traveller’s heart is through their stomach. Just kidding. Actually, it’s content that feeds the traveller’s imagination. Promoting that content is the final push in the pursuit of marketing excellence. This is the stage at which the distribution applications of your digital tools really shine. Especially when you consider that everybody’s got a smartphone these days, and they’re very busy on them. Social Media has the world in a tight grip with FOMO reigning supreme. And travellers are watching very closely..
Get your content visible on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and research which of the other growing number of social sharing sites your target markets frequent. Manage your own account and post links to your presentations for the world to view, follow and share. Post and share your products on third party sites. The right technology will empower you with Apps, widgets and embedded code to do that efficiently.
Social Media is one of the most successful ways to market your travel services, with more than 50% of direct bookings coming from social media accounts.
Another smart thing to do is to attach those links to your content to your email signatures. Imagine how much more effective your content distribution would be if you attached your entire catalogue of products onto an email signature with a single link. It’s automatic lightening speed content promotion with minimal effort. And again, if your content is mobile-friendly, that means every single prospective travel consumer/client accessing your content, can comfortably view your offerings on their personal digital device, wherever in the world they may be online. The sales potential is mind-boggling. I want to say be beautiful, be smart, be everywhere. And get liked 🙂
The spin-off from having a Social Media presence is of course the fact that you can actively engage travellers – both your existing clients and any prospective clients who happen to be shopping around. The latter will be there reading any reviews written by the former, as many in fact as they can get their mouse clicks on. And they’ll be swayed by those reviews. Underestimate the power of the review at your peril!
92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth, recommendation from friends and family, above all forms of advertising.
It’s an opportunity for you to do any necessary damage control, yes, but also to acknowledge the positive reviews from satisfied clients. Bonus benefit: you get to supplement your consumer data richly by monitoring the activity and feedback, to keep that happy wheel of personalisation turning and so keep those happy clients returning. It’s real-time relationship marketing you couldn’t buy for any money.
Invite those recommendations and promote your brand as one that cares. This way you keep the traveller firmly rooted as the hero of the travel experience. You get to be head cheerleader with cherries on top.
Like most puzzles, this is a multifaceted but fun one to piece together. The Law of Attraction suggests that what you put out into the Universe will come back to you.
Produce, present and promote stunning content you can be proud to share with the world, and your content will bring the world to you.