The holiday doesn’t start at the airport…

Posted by: Tommy Tonkins

Destination marketing, experience marketing and interactive campaigns. Just three aspects of digital tourism that are helping to turbo-charge marketing in a digital world.

Advances in digital technology mean that booking a hotel, grabbing a last-minute flight and going on holiday is now easier and more convenient than ever before.

This was a critical message conveyed at this year’s World Travel Market – a vibrant, must-attend event which sees thousands of businesses and travel professionals flock to London from all corners of the globe in search of the unique opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and do business.

In order for businesses in the travel industry to stay at the very top of their game, they must make an investment in the rapidly-growing digital world.

Here are three themes that were prevalent throughout this year’s World Travel Market:

Embrace mobile

According to Lee McCabe, Facebook’s Global Head of Travel, mobile is becoming the remote control of our lives.

A staggering 25% of media time is currently spent on mobile and, perhaps even more astonishing, only a mere 11% of budgets are put towards mobile. In this service revolution, mobile has dramatically improved the level of convenience for customers.

From ordering a takeaway to booking a hotel room, the ease-of-use and accessibility of mobile is changing behaviour patterns. To compete with industry competitors, travel companies must invest more aggressively in the ‘convenience coup’ that is mobile. With 2.5 million apps at our fingers, an average of 2 hours 45 minutes spent on apps per day per person and with 86% of time on a mobile device spent using apps – apps are, without a doubt, the future for integrate digital marketing

With this in mind, it’s imperative for travel companies to keep up-to-speed. A surge in supply will promote a surge in demand and those businesses who connect supply to demand will benefit, particularly if they continue to build a good knowledge of their customers.

Good data is key to understanding the demands of your demographic and in turn, the higher the data proficiency, the less search results the customer will be faced with and the greater the convenience and overall experience will be.

A digital experience, particularly on mobile, should be without friction and as delightful an experience as possible.

Covering all your bases

A fully integrated digital strategy requires a collaboration of many different high quality digital services. The best teams work together to reach their goals with each team member playing to their strengths. The same is true of digital channels.

This is particularly true in the travel industry when considering cost-effective online strategies for hotels. There are over 100,000 hotel searches made in London every day – with this in mind, rate-flexing is integral to win over your potential guests who are in search of the best possible deal. Taking a little off to add a lot in the long term sees big picture benefits.

Although you might be reluctant to give your guests the opportunity to book through OTAs, it is nonetheless important to utilise OTAs for the additional promotion. With this in mind, bring your guests back to an actively updated website with a clear incentive to book direct.

With 35% of hotel searches are made on mobile, it’s vital to have a mobile optimised site. Google AdWords, re-marketing adverts, Trip Advisor Business Listings, paid Facebook marketing and active social media activity will also work together to drive potential guests through to the hotel website.

As is communicating your best monthly offers to customers via email, using good quality, recent photography, which will drive further traffic through to the hub of the operation once again – the website.

Alongside the collaboration of these different digital channels, internal marketing and first class service will be the cherry on top of a fully integrated and cost-effective strategy to increase the overall number of hotel bookings.

The holiday doesn’t start at the airport

The luxury travel market has seen many changes over the last few years, forcing those in the industry to re-evaluate their targets – who are they? what are they looking for? and how can businesses give this to them?

To sell into the luxury travel market, it’s essential for businesses to build relationships with their customers, ideally through digital and by face-to-face interaction. Good service is key and trust, creativity and a sense of partnership is vital.

Looking for that perfect holiday package or luxurious hotel accommodation should be a seamless and enjoyable digital experience.

After all, the holiday does not start at the airport – it starts with those first few thoughts from the traveller and their corresponding online search activity to find that perfect deal for them as an individual.

Travel is, and always will be, an exclusive experience, however the very personal service every traveller expects to receive will only be achieved if a fully integrated and effective digital strategy is in place.

Equally, as we are witnessing a shift in mobile from being merely a technology to a full-on consumer behaviour, the rapid increase in mobile popularity in the travel industry must be addressed with more urgency.

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