Despite the growing consumer preference for experiences over physical goods, the buzz of buying a holiday seems to have been lost for many.
As our recent research at Fresh Relevance into traveller booking trends revealed, nearly half of UK holidaymakers actually spend longer researching and booking a holiday than the duration of the trip itself.
Not only have consumer habits evolved, but when combined with other factors that marketers face in the travel space, it’s certainly creating a challenge. From failing consumer trust in the wake of the Thomas Cook liquidation to Brexit uncertainty, a weak Sterling and the resulting staycation trend, there are multiple factors impacting a shopper’s propensity to book a holiday.
Also, most consumers don’t travel very often – maybe two or three times a year. Consequently, their exposure to travel brands is relatively limited. At the same time, they’re interacting with brands like Amazon and Deliveroo, who are leading when it comes to the customer experience and setting consumers’ brand expectations.
For travel marketers, unlocking ways to build consumer confidence is critical to brand success. With the peak booking season just around the corner, here are some key tips for helping achieve this including the use of dynamic content.
We know that consumers are taking their research seriously and invest significant time scrolling through travel review platforms and social media channels. Undoubtedly, most would prefer some hands-on advice to help them plan. Making the life of the consumer easier at the early stage of planning is important for brands looking to build a relationship from the outset.
One brand that does this particularly well is Fodor’s Travel, which shares curated ‘trips’ on TripAdvisor. These themed trips suggest places of interest and conveniently located hotels designed to help and inspire consumers researching their next holiday.
Providing ready-made trip itineraries is convenient to busy consumers, taking elements of the planning off their hands so they don’t have to worry about it. Not only does this help build an emotional connection, but the faster and more effectively a brand can meet the holiday needs of a consumer, the more likely they are to book with that brand.
Help them pick up where they left off
There are many ways to shop for travel, with the average consumer using a mix of different devices and channels on their holiday booking journey. Therefore, some visitors will browse the travel website without making a booking, and return at a later date to continue their search. This is an opportunity to help shoppers pick up where they left off. A welcome back popover displays the items viewed during the last website visit, so they don’t have to start from scratch again.
Around 90% of OTA bookings get abandoned. That’s where form abandonment emails come in. By triggering a single or multi-step form abandonment email, marketers help motivate shoppers to return to the website to complete the booking form which recovers significant revenue.
Get the context spot on
In the battle to engage a holidaymaker overrun with endless options at every stage of booking a trip, contextual targeting is critical to deliver an offer the customer can’t resist.
Using real-time data, marketers can tailor dynamic content to the location, time, weather and device at the moment a message is opened or a web page is viewed. This can be anything from displaying deals on flights from airports local to that individual to acknowledging a grey and miserable day and using it as a way to inspire someone to explore trips to warmer climates. Combining contextual information with customer behaviour and preferences will provide further engagement around the purchase (see the Travelodge example below including local weather conditions).
Whatever the trip, consumers want to feel confident it’s going to meet their expectations. By meeting their needs at every stage of the research process, travel companies will ultimately get them to the departure lounge faster. Marketers who embrace the concept of individual customer journeys and use data and personalisation to deliver them will capture more sales and retain loyal customers.