Travel marketing has evolved considerably since the birth of the internet.
Customers do their own research and book their full trip from airfare to attractions online based on reviews, recommendations, and an enticing offer.
With so many options at customers’ fingertips, today’s travel marketing company needs to pull out all the stops to get in front of their audience.
Every Top Travel Marketing Company Knows the Value of a Quality Website
There’s no question about it; a winning traveling marketing strategy starts with a solid website.
When people are shopping around for the perfect vacation, they will be using more than one site. As such, usability is incredibly important.
If there are barriers to making a purchase, they will go somewhere else.
Focus on What You Can Do for Your Customers
A common marketing mistake is focusing primarily on what you do, rather than how you can create an unforgettable experience for your customers.
At the website level, this means providing a mix of visuals and relevant tips. A few ideas:
- High-quality photos
- Information about activities and tourist destinations
- Maps and guides
- Airport information
- Public transit information
- Tips for navigating the local culture
The point is you’ll want to be helpful while painting a picture of what the customer’s perfect trip might look like.
Make it Easy to Get in Touch
Contact information should be placed in a prominent location on every page. Phone number, email, chat, social media — today’s consumer wants options. Providing multiple ways to get in touch means that consumers can reach out on their terms if they need assistance.
Use Video to Show Off Travel Destinations
Beautiful travel images on your site and social media accounts do a lot when it comes to convincing a buyer to pull the trigger and book. In fact, according to Moz content that features videos attract three times more inbound links than those without.
Kick things up a notch by adding a video presentation to show off featured destinations in greater detail. Photos entice your audience, but video presents a view of what the rooms look like and how space fits together.
Dubai’s Atlantis the Palm does a nice job showcasing their amenities through video. Viewers get the sense of what it’s like to swim with dolphins or spend a lazy day exploring the grounds.
PPC for Travel Marketing
Pay per click or PPC advertising is useful for all businesses, but travel marketing companies know that purchasing the right keywords is essential for getting in front of your audience.
While travel marketing has the advantage of selling a product that sells itself, there are some things you can do to make the most out of your paid advertising budget.
How to Write a Great PPC Ad
While you probably have no shortage of selling points, you’ll want to be smart about how you put together your PPC ads.
Travel marketing pros follow these best practices when writing copy for their travel ads:
- Include the target keyword in the headline
- Use call-to-action words like “book flights now.”
- Demonstrate social proof by showing how many people you’ve served
- Show starting prices for rooms or flights
- Create a sense of urgency by showing deadlines for deals
Use Niche-Focused Keywords to Stand Out
What kind of property do you own? A cosmopolitan hotel steps away from the hottest watering holes? Do you charter yachts or offer windsurfing classes? Host adventurous treks through the jungle?
Travel offers so many appealing selling points, from adventure to luxury, to relaxation, but marketing success depends on your ability to focus on what you do best.
Establish what makes you different from your competitors. Where do you outshine other players in this space? This lays the groundwork for the keywords you purchase and the content you create. If you miss the mark here, another company might outrank you and attract more customers.
Keywords Should Change with the Seasons
Travel PPC is all about seasonality.
Before you start targeting your demographic with time-sensitive deals, you’ll want to determine which times of year customers are most likely to engage. From there, you can choose the keywords that attract travelers seeking a summer holiday away from the office or refuge from cold winter months, thus getting more out of your ad budget.
In this ad, ski company Crystal offers discounted prices during the off season.
Develop a Killer Mobile Experience
You should already know by now, mobile is crucial.
Criteo’s Travel Flash report found that 80% of last-minute bookings are made on a mobile device. They also found that about a third of all bookings come from mobile.
Users shouldn’t have to pinch, scroll, or zoom to view information. Ignore this basic functionality, and customers will leave your site in favor of one that’s properly optimized.
Here are some of the elements that make up a winning mobile experience:
- Web copy is easy to read—spacing, fonts, and colors work together well
- Click-to-call functionality is enabled
- Google Maps is integrated so people can find their way to and from your hotel
- You’re not using Adobe Flash
- Pop-up use is kept to a minimum
- Your logo links back to your homepage
- Calendar and search are easy to find and use
- Site uses auto-fill on forms for returning customers
Oh, and one more thing. You’ll want to implement a smart booking engine that keeps room and pricing information updated across all platforms. This way, it doesn’t matter if people book online or on their phones; every visitor receives a clear picture of what’s available.
Embrace Email for Travel Marketing
Email marketing isn’t dead, and these days, it’s more targeted than ever. It’s also one of the most cost-effective methods for reaching guests and increasing bookings.
You’ll need to create great content with prominent offers if you want people to stay subscribed and share your emails with their network.
Here are a few things the top traveling marketing companies know about leveraging the power of email:
Grow Your Subscriber List
If people are already on your website, they are ready to receive information. Still, sometimes it’s a challenge to get people to provide their contact information. A few ways you can grow your email list:
- Highlight value gained from subscribing
- Make sure opt-in is easy to find
- Use content upgrades and lead magnets
- Optimize CTA buttons
- Use exit pop-ups
- Add social sharing buttons to emails
Target Repeat Guests
Targeting existing customers is easier than trying to generate new leads all the time, and it’s more cost effective. As such, make sure you’re running targeted campaigns to return guests. Think special packages or a time-sensitive reward offer.
Take Advantage of Peak Periods
Guests are more likely to look for deals in the lead-up to peak periods. Send them personalized reminders with holiday-themed emails or last-chance summer vacation deals. Additionally, targeted emails that highlight low room inventory can drum up the sense of urgency needed to drive bookings.
Use Data to Create Personalized Offers
Today’s customer makes most of their travel arrangements online. So, they already understand that they must be willing to provide their email and a few personal details to complete the purchase.
Always collect this information at the time of booking and use it to follow up with customers to confirm the reservation and send reminders and time-sensitive offers. This gives you the ability to go in for the upsell and increase revenue.
On top of that, customer data can help you present personalized offers to different segments.
People are more likely to open emails that speak to their unique interests. A study from American Express found that 83% millennials would allow a travel company to track their patterns if they provided a more personal experience.
Spend Time Creating CTAs and Subject Lines
Short copy often takes a lot longer to perfect than longer pieces of content. Subject lines should be short, direct, and contain a clear benefit that encourages customers to open.
Once inside, it’s essential that the email keeps readers engaged. So, make sure your emails are friendly and personalized—and contain incentives. A few examples:
- Request feedback in exchange for a discount
- Invite customers to book directly on your website for a discount or chance to win a prize
- Time-sensitive offers or rewards that encourage guests to book now
Online Reviews Are Everything
Few people will book a hotel room based on your website alone. You can post the best pictures, talk up your offerings, and deliver a solid travel experience, but first-time customers trust their peers more than they trust you.
Research from BrightLocal shows that over 91% of people read online reviews and 84% of those people trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
This means you need to make sure you get verified reviews that are visible on search engines. Here are some ways you can ensure that you step up your review game:
Ask for Online Reviews
An essential part of getting the online reviews you need is asking guests to leave reviews. You might be tempted to offer an incentive, but your best bet is to gently encourage people to share their experience. Otherwise, it might seem like you’re trying to buy positive reviews.
So, instead of trying to buy customer affection with discounts and vouchers, make it easy to write a review.
TripAdvisor has a free online widget you can embed in your site, allowing them to leave feedback without navigating to another page.
Yelp offers something similar; you can add Review Badges to your website, which lets you embed positive reviews on your site. While customers can’t directly comment on Yelp from your site, showcasing comments works as a visual reminder. Consider adding in a short CTA with a link to your Yelp page.
According to a recent survey by ConversionXL, having starred reviews attached to your Google My Business account can increase click-throughs by up to 35%. Make it easy on customers by sharing a link they can click to share their feedback.
Don’t Ignore Bad Reviews
Bad reviews are certainly disappointing, but unfortunately, ignoring the issue won’t make them go away.
Think of every complaint as an opportunity to turn things around. Just look at Expedia’s Trust Pilot page. Here, you’ll see a long list of negative comments with no reply. Customers don’t typically want to leave bad reviews, they want to feel heard. A page like this gives customers the impression that they don’t matter.
Take to the Blogosphere for Better Travel Marketing
If you don’t already have a blog, now is the perfect time to start. This gives your customers more travel content without the sales element. Any business benefits from blogging, but the travel niche stands to reap some serious benefits.
Quality Beats Quantity
Companies often think that taking up blogging means pumping out a ton of content. But a hotel isn’t a media company. Where travel marketing shines is in its ability to be both informative and inspirational. You’re selling the idea of a fabulous vacation and content should reflect that.
For content to be great, it needs to tell a new story or tell an existing story better than anyone else. You can’t just do generic blog posts about traveling to Amsterdam or your first trip to Disney. Content should speak to your niche and show off your unique offerings.
Be Reasonable About SEO
SEO is super essential for attracting the right audience to your website.
But we’ve all seen SEO gone horribly wrong. Think blog posts that repeat phrases like “Our Minneapolis beer tours” or “our Seattle hotel is the ideal location for taking in the local Seattle art scene.”
Don’t insert the name of the city with multiple activities to make your way to the top of the search results.
Instead, focus on how you can add value to your target audience. What kinds of challenges do they face when traveling, and how can you address them in your content?
TripIt, an app that condenses busy travel itineraries for those constantly on the go, has a clear tilt towards business travelers and addresses many common pain points through its blog.
Connect with Travel Aggregators
Millions of travelers opt to make things easy and book through an aggregator like Kayak or Travelocity. You might have used one of these yourself, checking flights with Google Flights to find the cheapest airfare. Or, booking a rental car and hotel as an add-on to your plane tickets.
Aggregators dominate the search results, so it might pay to team up with them to increase your reach.
The customer’s journey can span hundreds of web pages and multiple keyword searches. When travelers start the research process, there’s a lot they need to look up. As such, your website can get lost in the shuffle if you’re not careful.
That’s where remarking comes in. People who visit your website once will see an advertisement later on, thus ensuring that the initial interaction with your brand won’t be the last. In this article, we dive deeper into remarketing strategies that boost sales.
Wrapping Up Travel Marketing
As you can see, successful travel marketing depends on implementing a wide range of strategies from PPC to video, to making sure your site is optimized for mobile bookings.
Employ these tips listed above, and you’ll have a top travel marketing company in no time.