The modern travel industry was built for the internet, and vice-versa, but some travel marketers are doing their job better than others.
The leisure travel market looks better in 2016 than it has in recent recessionary years. Travel firm Destination Analysts notes that Americans are expected to take 2 percent more leisure vacation trips than last year, while overall spending on these trips will grow an additional 2 to 4 percent for the year.
At the same time, competition for bookings is tighter. Third-party travel agents are losing bookings to consumers, who are increasingly booking their own air flights, hotel reservations and car rentals online.
To capitalize on self-directed bookings, travel brands and travel operators need to understand current travel trends to keep their online customers happy:
- Keep websites updated, active and optimized for mobile – A well-organized site will increase conversions. Optimize the site for mobile as well. About 48 percent of travel consumers use mobile devices to search for hotels and cruises, and that’s almost even with the rise in mobile searches for auto rentals too.
- Use more video and social media in marketing to Millennials – The 20-somethings (up to 35 years old) are expected to make up about 40 percent of those who book travel online. It makes sense to reach out to this always-on group with captivating video clips and images, easily shared on social media channels. A recent travel industry study showed that nearly 3/4 of all travel brands are also incorporating user-generated social content into their websites
- Monitor online reviews and act quickly – Awful online reviews at sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor can hurt the reputation of a travel operator, cruise line or luxury resort quicker than inclement weather. It’s important to candidly and swiftly address customer issues, offer a supportive or encouraging word and then act to address the issue offline with customer support.
- Remarketing works – Ads that are served up to visitors who come to their travel sites are often rewarded with conversions later on. Keeping your brand in front of a traveler’s eyes enables the potential for a hotel stay or vacation booking late.
Here’s who’s doing big things in the digital hospitality on travel space:
Hyatt remade its digital marketing efforts in late 2015, offering up a massive global marketing campaign under the header “It’s Good Not to Be Home.” The Hyatt Regency brand campaign included many marketing elements, including social media, digital advertising, TV, billboards and signage, print media and more. It was aimed at attracting hotel visitors as well as catching the eyes and budgets of event/meeting planners.
The leader in on-time U.S. performance for over a decade, Hawaiian Airlines uses a mix of social media, video marketing and street marketing to bring overseas visitors to fly its airline to Hawaii. In previous years, the airline has held hula hoop dancing events in New York. This year, to reach Chinese travelers, Hawaiian Airlines launched a 360-degree video campaign titled “Fly with Aloha” to show potential customers its unique Aloha Spirit hospitality, a hallmark of the brand.
Destination Hotels (Embassy Row Hotels)
This hotelier set up an Instagram campaign for images and videos that brought the local flavor of the Washington DC arts scene to visitors booking into the hotel. Hotel guests were encouraged to see the sights in DC and take some pics with Instagram #igdc hashtag (like this one).
Combining a short walking tour, social media imagery and cocktails on the roof, the Embassy is taking travel marketing a few steps ahead.