With the summer travelling season full on, knowing that most of your customers are out the door enjoying their vacation, you may relax a bit and slow down your marketing activities. After all, it’s summer for you too, and you deserve some down time. But you cannot sit back for too long, because your travelling customers demand services even during their journey.
And what’s more, you’ll soon have to start the engines running for the year’s second high season: the winter holidays.
Here are four tips, which are neither groundbreaking, nor brand-new, but which are essential to focus on and implement along all other digital marketing tasks.
1. Optimize for multi-device but focus on mobile
Optimize your site for mobile. This is already your mantra, for at least a year, I know. But is your mobile site easy to browse, easy to read and – most importantly – can a customer easily purchase your product from their mobile? As you know, travellers use mobile both in the travel planning phase and while on the road. Make it easy for them to buy your product.
I’ll give you a personal example: I’ve been on a trip last month, had to book a last-minute airbnb room, and had nothing digital with me but my phone. And a wifi connection from my guests. While having a change of plans and last minute urgency, I realized I was relying completely on airbnb’s mobile-optimized site and hoped I could do everything from the tiny screen on my phone. Managing to book my room, I was relieved to see that the purchase part had a secure connection too – just as you would expect on desktop. So you see, it’s essential to have a working mobile site if you want to cash in on last-minute mid-travel purchases.
Having said all this, make sure you take care of your other devices as well. Mobile is essential both pre-trip and especially during travels. But desktop and tablet browsing is just as important because travellers research for and purchase their trips on multiple devices. At home they will check information from their laptop or tablet. While on the metro, commuting, they will quickly look again at that resort you’re selling from their phones or compare it with others. Your information needs to be consistent on all devices, adapted for each and the purchasing process streamlined and safe.
2. Mix practical with inspirational material
Your website needs to have both types of information: practical and inspirational. Looking at some travel websites, I see some problems with both types.
The practical information is many times overlooked or simply forgotten. Your prospects want to know as many details as possible about the spot you’re selling, be it a hotel, a city tour or a mountain trail. We have everything at our fingertips today, so we’re used to knowing it all even before we check in to the destination. We google map it, we search for pictures, it’s almost as if we’ve already been there even before arriving. So as shopping travellers, that’s what we expect from your site too. Where is your spot located, how can we get there, what’s around it, what are the opening hours. All the obvious stuff for you, which will give us comfort beforehand.
As for the inspirational information, I’ve seen many businesses practically copying one another and writing generally about the destinations where they sell their product. Best beach spots in Barcelona. Top 5 restaurants in Lyon. Where to party in Berlin. Providing general topics, like these, that anyone could find interesting doesn’t necessarily benefit your target customer. If you’re selling family-oriented hotel rooms in Palma de Mallorca, writing about the city’s clubbing scene will not interest your target customer. Make your clients the focus and provide the inspirational information that will make their holiday exceptional.
3. Build your website as a tool for capturing leads
Don’t forget that your website is not just a window display of your prettiest pictures and cool, cutting-edge design to mesmerize the visitors. Your website’s number 1 objective is to capture the leads.
You use relevant information to show prospects your expertise, you add on social proof bits, like peer ratings and reviews, to build on trust, and then you have a method of contacting back that prospect. Vacationers shop around on many sites before they decide on a vacation spot, hotel or tour.
Your job is to remain in contact with them and keep providing relevant information relating to their search.
Help them decide on their perfect holiday and they will come back and purchase your service. Some of the tactics to stay in contact are: signing up for deals, for your newsletter, getting notifications when the price goes down on a product they wish for, or getting more info on a specific destination. Once you have people visiting your virtual shop, make a connection with them. Otherwise, a competitor will.
4. Be present – and helpful – throughout the whole travel journey
Most travellers book their accommodation and other vacation services before taking off. So travel marketers mostly focus on pre-trip marketing, whether it’s way in advance or last minute purchase. But many travellers today are more spontaneous than before and they often purchase new services during the trip. They reach for the world they have in their pocket: the mobile phone, and are practically ready to buy.
As I was mentioning in my story at the beginning, when I was left without accommodation 1 day before my arrival to a new city, I didn’t panic, not for one second did I think of calling my travel agent (because I don’t even have one!), but I comfortably thought: I’ll just check airbnb from my phone. Someone else would have checked a hotel booking site or a hostel, but the point is, we now shop for travel services while on the trip. Out of necessity or out of desire.
You shouldn’t forget about your customer once they stepped on the plane, or train. They will surely search for some spontaneous fun, or they will suddenly need a new service. Be there throughout the entire journey, and they will reward you with their business. And to go one step further, some of the savvy marketers out there try to make vacationers even extend their stay with unique offers, like “Spend 2 more nights in this hotel and get 50% off”. And some vacationers are willing to change their holiday last-minute for a good deal.
If you start implementing these digital travel marketing tips, you will see an increase in the number of leads, you will get more clients, and sales will go up, both pre-trip and during the traveller’s journey.