As is the case with many other sectors, the advance of technology has transformed the travel industry during the last decade. This applies just as much to how travel opportunities are marketed as to operational issues, including making reservations, checking flight times and sourcing local knowledge about destinations. There are important new developments ahead, and travel companies need to engage in some smart marketing if they are to retain and grow their customer base.
Some travelers are still happy to pop into a travel bureau to book hotel rooms or airline tickets – however, as times change it has become so much easier to make arrangements without the necessity of doing so in person. The increased use of convenient apps on smartphones and tablets and online social media means that travelers have become more independent when it comes to making their vacation arrangements. To connect successfully with customers, travel companies have to pay attention to how they are reaching out to people and whether they are able to use online marketing content to successfully conduct their business.
Website design and function
Customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated when it comes to their reactions to websites. The days of the static, somewhat boring pages of information are long gone, and marketing budgets will increasingly need to take account of the fact that travel brand websites attract more people who book vacations than do third party sites. Web experts say a function has become as important as design and that this is a trend set to continue. Potential customers become impatient very quickly when something on a site doesn’t work – all too often so much so that they leave the site rather than persevere.
The fashion for stock elements, such as photos, infographics and videos are definitely waning. Increasingly, firms are aiming to soften the corporate image in favor of a more personable and friendly approach. Customized content, both visuals & text, creates an extra special touch and allows sites to set themselves apart from others in the same trade.
Lots of companies working in hospitality and travel have become adept at using social media to stay in touch with existing patrons and attract new ones. However, it’s worth noting that the days of free interactions are likely numbered for those who want to be noticed. Some paid for campaigns such as Google AdWords can be costly in terms of what they measure and deliver, and on Facebook, paying for marketing at some level is necessary to engage with a target audience.
In contrast, there has been a rise in the importance of personal recommendations, especially among travelers. People respond positively to vacation experiences, both good and bad, shared by friends and colleagues, and many say this has influenced their travel plans. Travel companies, therefore, need to pay extra attention to customer service and to deal sensitively with complaints online and via their websites – not to do so leaves them wide open to extensive criticism via social media.
Message content and consistency
Across all marketing methods, it is key to sending a clear, consistent message to target audiences. The personalization of visual material, the use of blogs and the quality of online content are important in this respect. Smart travel companies are taking steps to present themselves as experts when it comes to giving people the lowdown on specific areas.
For example, well-informed and knowledgeable content on a locality such as Sydney, Australia is likely to attract travelers interested in taking a trip there. If you check the Sydney city guide at WorldEscape.Com you can find a variety of local neighborhoods, each of which is detailed in some depth. Positioning your website as a source of expert knowledge on vacation destinations is likely to foster a sense of trust and reliability among potential customers.
A development that has been waiting to make it big for a while but hasn’t quite seemed to get there, VR is definitely on the up. Just like the 360-degree video or photograph beloved by travel browsers, virtual reality technology may revolutionize the way in which vacations are assessed and booked. VR presents an opportunity for potential customers to check on everything from the size of their hotel room to the cleanliness of the pool. They can look around a city or resort of interest and find out about local amenities in advance of actually booking. Using VR to promote New York trips has already been a great success, particularly financially, and European travel offices are offering the opportunity to explore a number of other locations.
Mobile friendly content
As tech developments continue to evolve, the influence of mobile gadgets is increasingly becoming crucial to travel marketing campaigns. Company websites, travel apps, and social media platforms all need to take account of changes in consumer behavior as people move away from desktops and laptops and gravitate towards lighter mobile options.
A smartphone has the functionality of a computer, complete with internet access and touchscreen interface and is the device of choice of Millennials, or Generation Y, a demographic roughly equivalent to people between the ages of 18 and 34 years. These are the travelers of the present and the future: they are extremely tech-savvy, and the travel sector needs to be able to market to them successfully to remain relevant and sustainable. Currently, they represent some 40 percent of vacation travelers who book online, and they tend to share their experiences on digital platforms via mobile devices.
Keeping it relevant
Finally, it’s worth watching how content evolves. As Google eventually decided to prioritize quality and relevance of text over keyword stuffing, other search engines are likely to follow. Before too long, customized videos and visual material may well become favored over the generic variety, particularly since social media networks have embraced video in a big way. Remember that people love to share their travel experiences – good and bad – so take steps to put in place mechanisms to help address any issues or problems that may arise where customers decide to share negative reviews.