Innovative Travel Marketing Strategies to Maximize ROI
Digital Marketing for the Travel Industry
Modern travelers no longer rely on travel agents or magazine articles to decide where to go on their next getaway. Various social media channels, travel blogs and other sources provide prospective travelers with unique insights and inspiration for different travel destinations, which is a virtual treasure trove for digital marketing.
Travelers are tapping into all types of digital media, giving digital marketing greater reach than what traditional marketing could do.
Digitization in the Travel and Tourism Industry
Traveling in the modern age is much easier than it was in decades past. Before digitization, booking flights, hotels, tours, transportation and other aspects of travel involved calling multiple places, organizing dates and keeping track of all the information. Now, the digital world makes it easy to book everything you need in one place with just a few clicks.
Digitization also makes it easier for travel businesses to connect with prospective customers. Travel businesses can now implement different digital marketing strategies to raise awareness about their products or services, reach a much larger audience and offer exclusive deals that will inspire and entice travelers.
Digital Marketing Benefits for the Travel Industry
With the modern world so focused on devices and connectivity, digital marketing is a virtual necessity to ensure your business stays relevant and successful.
Here are some benefits of digital marketing for the travel industry:
In the connected world, engaging with customers has never been easier. You can reach your prospective customers at any time of day or night, in any part of the world and on any device, making it much easier to understand what your customers expect before they even inquire about your services. In a market that’s putting the power in the customers’ hands, having that level of service and loyalty is invaluable.
Exposure on Search Engine Results
Though some seasoned travelers embark on travel planning with a destination in mind, it’s common to see searches in Google and Yahoo along the lines of “where is the best place to travel?” Because of this, it’s vital for professionals in the travel industry to invest in search engine optimization and search engine marketing techniques that boost their search engine results page rankings to increase the number of visitors who come in contact with their goods and services.
Social Media Presence
Social media has had a direct impact on the contact customers can have with businesses, and businesses have more opportunity than ever to make their experiences personalized and customized. This not only means addressing concerns and inquiries in a timely manner but also supplying information to prospective customers before it’s even asked. Through social media, you can adjust your ads to reflect destinations, travel itinerary and travel deals that work best for their interests, giving them inspiration for their next adventure.
Social media posts and user-generated content can also help prospective customers see the pleasure that others have experienced in traveling to a certain destination through your company.
Consumer Interest in Travel
Traveling has never been easier to plan or cheaper to execute. Exotic lands and luxurious trips are in reach of a much larger audience than before, which is a boon for travel professionals.
On top of that, travel blogs and video blogs have given jet-setters an outlet to share their experiences. Someone looking for travel inspiration can stay in the comfort of their homes and see a tourist on an adventure excursion, eating a new dish in an off-beat restaurant or immersing themselves in the most eclectic of experiences, giving them inspiration for their future travel plans.
Data for Personalized Travel Experiences
The rise of big data makes it easier for marketers to approach their audience in a highly targeted and personalized way. You can now collect and analyze data from customers who interact with your business, allowing you to offer a personalized recommendation and experience based on their interests and inquiries. You can also identify patterns that could negatively impact your services, so you can give your customers what they’re truly looking for.
Trends in Travel Digital Marketing
A successful digital marketing strategy for the travel industry involves more than just inspiring travel plans in customers and encouraging them to buy travel deals. Ultimately, the goal is to bring your customers back and gain their loyalty so that they will continue to seek you out for their regular vacation planning.
Destination marketing is all about inspiring a traveler to visit a location while also providing your customer with the best travel experience with as little hassle as possible. Even for a seasoned traveler, it’s always uncomfortable to be in a new place and unsure of how to get there and get around, where to go for essential needs, what rules or laws need to be followed and other practical information. The more you can provide this information to your customers in a comprehensive package, the more trusting they’ll be in your services.
For example, it may be helpful to include information like essential facts about a destination, maps or guides, organized tours for specific tourist sites, transportation mapping and other key information. The more stress and uncertainty you can remove from the experience, the happier your customer will be.
Booking travel used to be a hassle, but it’s become much easier with digital tools. There are still flaws in the process, however, so be sure to give your customers an online booking experience that’s as streamlined and simple as possible. Make sure you include all the details your customer may need. This is also a good opportunity to employ content, video and other marketing efforts that provide your customers with valuable information.
Even with the most exciting of travel plans, the actual process of traveling from one destination to another can still be stressful. As a travel professional, the best thing you can do for your customer is to alleviate the stress and hassle by providing in-flight information with great places to visit, travel offers and other destination-specific deals.
Social Media Marketing
With nearly 3 billion social media users active, social media marketing campaigns are more important than ever. If you already have a social media strategy in place, you’re off to a good start, but it’s vital that you continue to engage with your audience, address questions or concerns in a timely fashion and inspire them with destinations, travel itineraries and other travel ideas to keep them interested in your business. Consistency is also important, so be sure to post often and regularly to stay on your prospective and current customers’ radar.
Influencer marketing is popular overall, but it’s particularly useful for the travel industry. Many bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers travel and use their outlet as a way to share their experiences, giving you a built-in audience for potential marketing opportunities. Working with the right influencers and affiliates allows you to tap into that audience and gain trust by associating your brand.
Before jumping on board with an influencer, it’s important to research your potential influencers thoroughly and be sure you find one whose values align with those of your company, whose audience is significant enough and who has a generally favorable reputation among followers. It may take a while, but you’ll be able to find the influencer who’s a perfect match for your business.
Content marketing encompasses a wide array of different types of media. It may include pictures, videos, virtual tours and more, but the general concept of content marketing is that the entire strategy uses media to connect with prospective customers. With its variety, content marketing is one of the more creative and entertaining aspects of digital marketing.
For example, you can use list articles or blogs that cover the best nightlife, beaches, attractions, parks, etc. near your location or destination, or you can show off videos or tours of popular destinations to inspire travelers.
Visuals are a powerful tool, particularly with travel marketing. Photos, videos, virtual tours, 360-degree views and other immersive experiences allow your customer to imagine themselves in a certain destination and yearn for the opportunity to experience it in person. On top of that, customers looking for travel planning are looking to be captivated by the media they experience on the site before they will book travel with the company, so having enticing visuals keeps them engaged and searching your site to discover more products and services.
Tips for Travel Marketing
The global tourism market generates over $1 trillion in revenue each year, and digital marketing is anticipated to account for roughly half of that.
With such a massive audience and potential gain, the travel industry is competitive, so travel professionals must use innovative techniques and strategies to stand out.
Here are some tips to help your business make an impression:
Focus on the Target Audience
Focusing on the audience is essential for marketing success in any industry, but it’s often overlooked. It’s virtually impossible to create a successful marketing campaign without knowing who you’re trying to reach.
This is as important, if not more so, for the travel industry. Travel marketing is very focused on the user experience for success, so marketing campaigns need to be tailored to the target audience.
The first step in developing your campaign is identifying your target customer. Think about the products and services you offer and who they’re intended for, such as families, couples, solo travelers, senior travelers or a wide range. You can then discover characteristics that develop your buyer persona.
- Be specific: If the bulk of your products cater to couples, for example, you’re already able to identify specific characteristics to target. This may be individuals under the age of 30, individuals without children, couples who are recently married, etc.
- Empathize: It’s always helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re targeting. For example, consider yourself as a parent trying to plan a trip with young children. Which destinations would offer a wide range of age-appropriate activities, such as children’s museums, zoos, aquariums and other kid-friendly places?
Before you plan the marketing strategy, it’s vital to profile your target customer and use the data to inform the rest of the planning process.
Use Social Media
We’ve already discussed the benefits of social media and digital marketing. In the travel industry, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest give prospective customers inspiration for their travel destinations, ideal hotels, must-see attractions and activities to plan their trip.
Social media is also highly visual, as is travel. It’s not enough to set up an account and consistently share content from others. Travel professionals should plan out their own informative and inspirational content, as well as reply to comments, answer questions and start discussions. Even simple posts, such as a “choose A or B” with two aesthetically pleasing photos of different destinations, can be enough to spark engagement.
Social media is necessary, but it’s also competitive. There are creative ways to use this to your advantage, especially with photography and videos. Showcasing traveler experiences with photos or videos that reflect the beauty or excitement of an exotic place can be enough to inspire a traveler to plan their next trip.
Implement Paid Ad Campaigns
Channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter offer advertising opportunities directly on the platform. You can easily set up an account and run a campaign, as well as access the reach, engagement and insights from users who interact with your ads.
From there, you can use those insights to refine and develop your ad campaigns to narrow your audience, adjust the time or frequency, set specific goals and finesse your overall strategy.
Identify Key Moments
Travel requires a financial commitment, time commitment and a lot of planning. It’s not an impulse purchase. The process of initial interest to research, price comparisons and bookings is long and thorough.
Understanding the journey the customer goes on in order to plan a trip is useful for developing a marketing strategy. It can be broken down into the following steps:
- Dreaming: During this phase, prospective customers are open to possibilities. They may not have decided on where to go or what to do once there, so they’re looking for inspiration.
- Planning: At this phase, prospective customers may have settled on a destination, but they may not be sure of the dates, hotel, activities or other aspects.
- Booking: At this phase, prospective customers have confirmed their dates, flights or transport, accommodation and any other tours/ticketing necessary, so all that’s left is booking the reservations.
- Experiencing: During this phase, travelers are on their trip and sharing their experiences online. They may be searching for impromptu activities, attractions and experiences during their trip, however, which gives you an opportunity to target them.
Understanding this process gives you insight into what your customers need at which stage of their journey so that you can tailor your messaging to reach them. For example, if your services are tours, you may be able to influence a customer into visiting one of your destinations, advise them on the best time of year to go, showcase how easy your booking process is and offer them a chance to purchase tickets while they’re already on their trip.
Putting It Together
Keeping up with the digital marketing tools and trends for the travel industry can inspire getaways to unknown destinations and boost booking during the peak season and throughout the year. Using these tools, you can provide engaging, valuable travel information to potential guests that inspires travel ideas and offers an authentic experience.
If you’re looking for a new approach to boost digital marketing in the travel industry, M16 Marketing can help. Our highly skilled team of web designers, digital marketing strategists, content creators, search engine optimization consultants and developers are equipped to handle all aspects of your marketing strategy and position your business to succeed. Contact us today to learn more!