What can tour operators and travel agents do with their marketing right now to win back customers? Anthony Rawlins, managing director at tourism marketing agency Digital Visitor, offers his advice
While it’s undoubtedly been a tough year for travel agents and tour operators, with the right marketing activities I believe some companies could actually show significant growth next year and take market share.
In this article, I will run through the marketing activities tour operators and travel agents should be exploring right now, in order to maximise future success.
Now more than ever there is an overwhelming amount of travel content on the internet across many sources, which can make the traditional “dreaming and planning” stages of travel booking increasingly confusing for consumers.
Before a customer even starts to look for inspiration, they will need to know the options available to them, which is why I suggest there is an added starting stage of “viability”.
There is a unique opportunity for travel businesses to draw customers into their sites and to be seen as experts if they provide content that provides clarity of information around travelling during the pandemic.
Once customers are on your website, communicating the benefits of booking with an agent or operator during this time will feel a lot more natural than outbound advertising. So with the right clever messaging, you will be able to encourage people to travel with you when the time comes for them to book their trip.
We have started to get used to the push and pull of Covid-19 – one minute a destination is good to go, the next it’s locked down. One minute we don’t have to quarantine upon arrival, the next we do. With this changeable landscape, people will want to make hay while the sun shines, and when the opportunity presents itself, book their trip away.
Though families will be looking at the traditional periods such as half-terms and next summer, it is important not to forget about other lucrative audiences.
Younger audiences, couples and small groups of friends are not bound by school holidays and will become easier to inspire the minute destinations begin to open up again.
These customers want to get away with the least possible hassle, know where to go, and more importantly, who to book with. Many airlines and major travel companies are jumping on this opportunity, but aren’t paying enough attention to the new “viability” stage of the purchase journey and providing the information customers truly need to make their decision.
I for one was searching for a quick getaway before the UK government announced a national lockdown, but it was just too complicated. In all my research, I was unable to find a resource that had succinct information on up-to-date testing requirements, travel corridors and quarantine restrictions on arrival, so I gave up.
Provide this information to customers in an easily digestible fashion, such as through recommendations on the easiest destinations to get away to and ranking both incoming and outgoing Covid requirements.
If you do this really well, you’ll find web traffic increases as new customers visit your site for this information.
I appreciate tracking this information is tricky as it’s ever-changing, but keeping on top of this and doing it well will far outweigh the resource cost needed to create this information.
Having a strong contactable database will obviously be useful for your direct communications, but will also provide you with a wealth of data that can be used to build look-a-like audiences to make your paid advertising more cost-effective and successful.
I urge you to spend this time building your email database using the above two tactics and clever messaging frameworks to tap into the up-to-the-minute behaviours and attitudes of consumers, which will help you naturally build up your contactable pool.
For more marketing advice visit digitalvisitor.com