If you are in the travel business you are likely seeing more and more of your business coming not from the door, not from the phone, but from the inbox on your computer. Interaction usually takes place after the customer has done all the research necessary and is ready to book a trip. This digital shift has likely caused major movement in your models, your marketing strategies, the very way you prosecute your business. While the workings are easier in some ways, the competition for that customer is stiffer than ever as every plumber and flower salesman seems to have an online travel business on the side.
Internet marketing expert Steve Parker, a contributor to Business2Community.com, offers these 10 tips to help keep your travel business in the running and ahead of the guy next door.
1. Plan your paid search budget based on consumer trends
Many companies split their paid search budget evenly over 12 months. Travel and destination marketing, however, is a completely different breed. With the busiest season being summer, it is best to focus spending in the months leading up to summer, continuing through to August.
2. Build relationships
Consumers crave a company they can trust when it comes to travel. Don’t focus your travel marketing strategy solely on the sale, but work on building a relationship with your viewers. Engage them in email campaigns and within social media platforms, and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback.
3. Support reviews
Today, more than ever, consumers are looking for reviews, especially for travel destinations. Offer reviews on your site, and encourage you own customers to post reviews of their trips, too.
4. Encourage shared content
Satisfied travelers love showing off their pictures. Incorporate that love of sharing into your tourism marketing strategy by allowing a place for these customers to leave their happy memories on your website. Not only will this make your site more fun and inspire future clients, but it also promotes a great brand image and keeps visitors on your page longer.
5. Start a travel blog
Providing travel content with lists and photos is a great way to generate social media traffic. Plus, it gives clients great ideas for future travels.
6. Take advantage of affiliate marketing
If available, adding affiliate marketing to your travel marketing plan can significantly improve online sales.
7. Continue the conversation after the sale
Show your customers you care about their experience by targeting their specific demographic in your digital campaigns with content that is relevant to them. For example, if they previously went on a family cruise with kids, an email marketing campaign focused on an adults-only trip would not really apply to them. Focus on who they are, not what you are trying to sell.
8. Make sure your online and offline travel marketing initiatives complement each other
Online and offline channels work best when they work together. Use your offline marketing campaigns, such as print, to support your digital campaigns. When it comes to your offline travel marketing, always encourage consumers to learn more online.
9. Usability, usability, usability
If your customers can’t efficiently search on your page, they will have no qualms in going elsewhere. Don’t let this happen. One thing many travel and destination marketing sites fail to do is let consumers search by their own criteria. Allow variables beyond the type of vacation, such as the date, budget and special offers.
10. Optimize for long-tail searches
Search engine optimization is very important for travel and tourism marketing websites. And the long-tail approach – focusing on more specific and relevant keywords and phrases with lower search volume but lower competition levels – is a great way to reach your audience, as people are more likely to search using more specific keywords when it comes to travel. This is a great opportunity to optimize your page. For example, “flights” will be pretty hard to rank for, but “cheap flights to Prague” is much more specific and less competitive.