The month of March is finally here. Along with rising temperatures and blossoming foliage, spring break is officially upon us. Don’t worry if you haven’t booked that vacation to Cabo just yet, Jumpshot’s VP of Marketing Randy Antin has tapped into his 10+ years of travel marketing experience to provide us with savvy travel tips. Read on for marketing tricks for travel companies looking to engage with the right audience, as well as tips to help consumers to get the most out of their trips.
How do travel companies need to amend their marketing strategies to capture the attention of different age demographics?
To win the hearts of millennials, you better have a robust mobile strategy and a strong social stance. It also helps to be authentic, and to support socially aware causes (or be a socially-conscious company – and not just on the surface level). Heavy discounts or free incentives are a bonus for this group, and they appreciate engagement both before and after their trips.
Members of generation X care more about service and additional amenities – even if that comes at a higher price. Loyalty programs are key, as long as they’re executed in a more private manner without community involvement. Millennials will flaunt their platinum status with an airline on Twitter if it will get them bonus points, but Gen X would rather keep their status to themselves.
Baby Boomers generally have the most disposable income, so they tend to look for unique experiences that they may have missed when they were younger. Now that they are retired or very close to retirement, time is no longer an issue. Quality of experience is their main goal. This generation looks for higher quality lodging, custom vacations, luxury cruises, ease of travel, and educational enrichment (cooking classes in Tuscany or docent-led art museum tours, for example).
Which online platforms and outreach methods work best for travel companies?
It’s a combination of everything, from email to social media to content marketing and various forms of paid advertising. This includes search marketing, affiliate programs, display advertising and content distribution. These days, there is no way to interact with your customers through just one channel. You need to establish a multi-channel marketing approach and engage with your customers wherever they are, starting early on in their consideration period, all the way through booking a trip, and then sticking with them after they book. This way, you reach them through multiple touchpoints throughout their entire customer journey.
Some prime ways to engage consumers include frequent personalized email promotions based on consumers’ past purchases, searches or locations, and interacting with customers in an organic way on social media. On social platforms, it’s imperative to share relevant information that isn’t solely self promotional and never feel like an advertisement, as well as answer customer inquiries in a timely manner. Tapping into the advanced targeting capabilities of social networks – like Facebook’s Custom Audiences – is also a must. The paid social platforms need to be tied to the best of their ability with your internal CRM, pixeled user activity, and product feeds and be utilized for prospecting, re-engagement, and conversions. Search marketing is still the bread and butter for a lot of companies, as it continues to define intent-based marketing where the customer is raising their hand to tell you what they want. Specifically in travel, Google has made numerous inroads into the SERP to put travel results front and center, from Google Flights search to Google Hotel Ads that are integrated into Google Maps. And let’s not forget that real-time optimized programmatic display buys and good old fashioned affiliates are still useful ways to attract and re-engage customers.
What have been some of the best- or worst- travel campaigns you’ve seen and why?
The worst is by far the Malaysia Airlines “Bucket List” campaign. Considering they had a number of airplanes that crashed recently, it seems highly inappropriate. Another tacky one is the Airbnb “Is Mankind” commercial. This came off as so obnoxious and arrogant that it spawned its own parody.
Virgin America continues to deliver brilliant campaigns – and their Virgin America Seat View may just be the most innovative one yet. The airline used Google Street View to show of the interior of their planes. Not only can people explore the cabins through desktop and mobile – they popped up as interactive advertisements on bus shelters in select cities across the country. Hotel Tonight’s Instagram branding campaign is another top pick, with its great imagery that seems organic – not pushy.
Where and when are the best times for consumers to find travel deals?
You can find a lot of packaged deals around typical travel times – such as spring break, summer break, Thanksgiving and Christmas – but booking a trip during a shoulder season will save you the most money. Shoulder seasons change depending on location, largely due to weather (for example, people flock to Miami in December to escape the winter, but tourists love Montreal in the summertime once the snow has melted). Avoiding high season anywhere you go will undoubtedly get you the best deals. If you’re willing to brave Canada’s wind chill in February, you’ll save big bucks.
Aggregators like Hipmunk and Expedia have good deals, but oftentimes direct hotel chains attempt to generate more direct bookings in an effort to move away from their reliance on online travel agencies. So be sure to check out the hotel chain websites for special offers before you get that aggregated package deal.
Bottom Line: The Internet has not only made connecting with those around the world easier – it’s made physically travelling around the world easier as well. There are many ways for consumers to find the best travel deals and packages that work for them, and the most successful travel companies are engaging with these consumers in multi-channel and innovative ways. Pack your bags, because your next trip may only be a few clicks away!