The biggest beneficiaries of internet democratization and its related services are businesses that invested in digital marketing for travel and tourism sector.
There was a time when people hesitated to travel simply because of the cumbersome process involved in organizing the trip.
Starting from booking the tickets to planning the itineraries, travelers had to seek the help of travel agencies.
At the end of the day, the travelers were bound to choose packages which the agencies offered, that too, with little to no option for customization.
Fast forward to 2019, and all this has changed in ways that no traveler would have imagined a few decades back.
How the Internet has Transformed the Travel and Tourism sector
Now, with the ripples of the digital revolution disrupting almost every niche business, travelers have also gained the power to apply discretion while choosing their travel destinations and accommodations.
For pure existential reasons, the agencies that once ruled the roost are now hell bent on providing customization, howsoever required by the customers.
But that said, it doesn’t mean that all the players in the travel business are kneeling down.
A few travel marketers adapted to the internet revolution by making themselves visible in places where their customers frequently visit.
They promoted their services in different internet formats such as ads, videos, and most prominently as organic search results to the target audience. This has, in fact, influenced travelers to buy their services.
The phenomenal change that happened during the digital transformation was due to the increase in the use of search engines.
Nowadays, travelers seldom visit a brick and mortar agency to plan their trips. Instead, a simple Google search gives them more information than they require.
Online Marketing Strategies for Travel Marketers
If you’re a travel marketer, then immediately start strategizing business procedures to persuade the travel buyers. You can do successful marketing for travel and tourism services by adopting a few changes.
1. Addressing the Traveler’s Paradox of Choice
Yes, today’s travelers are more confused than how they were a few decades back.
According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, a management consulting firm, based on 300,000 travel-related search terms, it was found that, surprisingly, travelers are in limbo due to the excessive choices available to them.
The new-age marketers should help unshackle the confusion brewing inside the minds of travelers.
The study by McKinsey also found that a modern day traveler takes an unusually long time to zero-down on their travel plan. It’s estimated that travelers take close to 36 days before finalizing a trip.
During this long period of intense personal research, they visit over 45 touchpoints (the point of interaction between brands, businesses, products, and customers).
What is more interesting is that these touchpoints are accessed using a variety of devices such as mobile, desktop and tablet.
This means that as a travel marketer, your future is decided on how quickly and easily you resolve the common concerns of the travelers who are already jolted by the excess information available to them.
For example, if a traveler is on a trip with his kids and is searching for hotels with amenities, he would like to see a list of kid-friendly resorts rather than the ones with attached bars.
As a travel marketer, ensure that your website, ads and digital platforms are optimized to meet the expectations of a modern day traveler. This is all possible thanks to the digital signals left over by travelers.
This information helps marketers paint a picture of the traveler’s preferences, and they can change their marketing strategies accordingly.
2. Optimizing Travel Website for Search Engines
The study conducted by McKinsey revealed that most travel journeys start with a simple Google search.
Google is now the best troubleshooter when travelers are overwhelmed with options. The abundance of options forces the travel buyers to go into research mode, and Google is the top resource for this aspect.
The clickstream data collected by McKinsey clearly indicate the dominance Google has when it comes to influencing the travel buying decisions of prospects. In 2018, 31% of accommodation search started with search engines, which is an increase of 7% compared to 23% in 2017.
Contrary to the common belief that the people using search engines for travel-related queries take time to convert, the data shows that they made quicker purchase decisions than those who visited a travel agency website directly.
Unlike other online purchase decisions, travel is a highly complex purchase decision to make. One of the reasons for this is because of the risks involved when things go wrong with their travel plans.
Lack of well-thought-out decisions may result in dampening the joy of the travel. Moreover, unlike the other purchases that they do online, travel is not something that can be returned or replaced.
If you’re a travel marketer looking to improve the conversion rate for your travel website, ensure that you’re not pushing the prospects to sales.
Your priority should be to address their concerns and provide the best solution. This would eventually result in them opting for the packages you provide.
3. Ensuring the SEO-friendliness of the Website
For any website, be it travel or another niche, it’s imperative that the website is fully optimized for search engines.
With more and more users choosing Google as their go-to-website for all travel-related inquiries, the reason to rank #1 in the Google search is more than ever.
4. Support for multiple devices
The number of mobile phone users is accelerating year after year, and it’s estimated that there is a 10% increase in the customer journey from mobile devices. It has been found that more travel buyers are booking trips with their smartphones.
If you’re a travel marketer, ensure that your travel website has a dedicated mobile version. By the latest standards, it’s highly advisable to have a responsive design.
This will ensure that your prospects, who go through 45 touchpoints across several devices, don’t hit roadblocks along the way.
In fact, the study conducted by McKinsey found that cross-device journeys took longer than single-device ones, requiring five additional days, 55% more sessions, and 45% more digital touchpoints.
Today’s online travel shopping happens on multiple devices and channels. The agencies that tap into almost all the channels where their target audience are active will get the benefit.
If you’re marketing for travel and tourism website, your primary focus must be to ensure that the services can be accessed seamlessly on desktop, mobile, and apps.
Also, the time has arrived for travel and tourism agencies to buckle up their investments on the digital marketing front.
With SEO and other digital marketing strategies taking center stage, improving the user’s digital experience will bring in more trust and brand loyalty.
An important strategy that needs to be added to your catalog in order to succeed in the digital marketing for travel and tourism website is to ensure that you’re optimizing the site and apps for voice search.
Even though the number of people using voice search is not in awe-inspiring numbers, it’s still in its nascent stage, and the possibilities of it reaching a breakout point in the coming decade is very high.