Marketing Must-dos for the Travel & Tourism Industry

In the travel industry, you’ve got to be an attention seeker. However, it’s important to make sure you’re attracting the right kind of attention.

There’s a fierce contest going on between travel agencies, destinations, and accommodations, and it’s down to your marketing efforts to make sure you win over prospective travellers. 

Bear in mind that digital and technology have changed dramatically, and the marketing techniques to reach consumers have changed along with them. Read on for our advice on marketing must-dos for the Travel & Tourism sector.

A Great User Experience (UX) is Essential

Website for Kilima Sanctuary in Machangulo Peninsula, Mozambique

It all boils down to this… if your customer’s travel adventure starts with a seamless journey from the very first time they connect with you via your digital platform, they will be impressed. With almost 70% of all sales in travel and tourism made online (source: Statista), your website and/or app need to be clear and straightforward.

According to an Invoca report, 76% of consumers would stop doing business with a company after just one bad customer experience. This is true from the first dealing. Think about a time when you’ve landed on a website with a fixed goal in mind, i.e. to make a purchase or to find specific information. If you struggle to attain that goal in a reasonable time without complications, then you’re likely to abandon the site.

Navigation

How easy is your website to navigate, gather the relevant information and, top of the list, to make that all-important booking from? It’s something to consider. You must always keep in mind that around 45% of travellers book their accommodations and tours from their preferred mobile device and almost 85% of travelers book activities on their mobile device (source: Opera Mediaworks). If UX isn’t your forte, it’s worth thinking about chatting to the experts

Dynamic and Inspiring

What adds to a positive website journey is dynamic experiences. Do you offer the ability to search or narrow down offerings based on the customer’s preference? One travel search database found that the availability of free Wi-Fi in hotels was their highest-ranking feature so made sure that is prominent on their site. Whereas another decided to include the distance from each hotel to the city centre in the preview section, as that’s what their customers wanted to see. 

Once a user has landed on a place or accommodation they might be interested in, you need to reel them in with inspirational imagery. By sharing photos with an atmosphere that flaunts a desirable lifestyle, you’re more likely to make them covet the experience. Draw them in with the notion of a unique vacation, unlike anything competitors have to offer.

The final defining factor to bolster a customer’s good experience with your brand is…

Transparency

Travel is a big purchase for many. Even if finances aren’t a factor, most people have limited annual vacation time. Therefore, it’s vital that what you communicate on your website is complete, and transparent, with no hidden surprises. This not only ensures a great experience on your site, but it’s also more likely to open up an ongoing relationship with your client when you gain their trust. 

So be upfront about any perceived negative factors, or extra fees like parking, Wi-Fi, or taxes. It’s certainly not as off putting as finding out these things after you’ve booked.

You Get What You Pay For

Utlilising paid search is vital 

Google it! I’m sure that’s a term you’re familiar with since Google is the most visited website. According to Similarweb, Google is visited a whopping 89.3 billion times every month.

If that doesn’t convince you why you need a Google presence, note that there are 9 BILLION searches every day using Google and the average person makes 3-4 Google searches daily (source: EarthWeb). 

So you have a great website (we hope… and if you don’t, we can sort you out).  But, how do you get people to click on it? Well, you can actually buy website visitors, and it will help to increase the clicks to your site by making your travel site rank above organic search results, with a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. It is crucial that you rank as high as you can on Google since only 5% of people look past the first search page.

PPC Performance

It’s important to have a PPC strategy and we encourage our clients to use Google AdWords. Not only is it the leading PPC advertising platform, but you pay for just the actual, measurable results, such as website clicks. 

Google AdWords is particularly fruitful for the travel sector. The average click-through rate, which is an indicator of how relevant your ads are to the audience they’re reaching, is 9.19% for this industry as reported by WordStream. That means that almost 10 out of every 100 people who see your ad will click on it. A higher average than most industries.

Although it’s straightforward enough to analyse the progress of your PPC campaign, there are companies (like ours) that will keep an eye on the keyword performance, to ensure your advertisements rank high on the search results page. Once we’ve perfected the demographics, keywords, and retargeting of previous visitors, you’ll quickly see the best return on your investment.

So, any tourism and travel services marketing operations worth their salt will be running paid ads on Google. 

Organic social content

It’s been thrown around for the last couple of years now that organic social is dead. We’re definitely not going to deny it. Organic reach has dropped dramatically as competition on social media is increasingly merciless. 

Numbers-wise, according to Social Insider, 2022 saw the average reach rate drop to 9.34% on Instagram and 4.32% on Facebook, with engagement dropping to as little as 4.32%  on Instagram and 1.90% on Facebook.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t bother with organic content. I know that it seems not worth the time and effort, however, if you’re posting great quality content, it will supplement your other efforts. 

Reach and engagement rate in 2022 – Instagram and Facebook

Paid social content

What’s great about organic social content is that it helps you create a more informed paid content strategy. By testing the content organically, you’ll get a much better understanding of which of your creatives and messages resonate with your audience. You can then either choose to boost that specific content, or base paid content around the successful posts. 

There are some platforms, such as Twitter and TikTok, where organic content will perform better than paid content, if it goes viral.

The key is to unify your organic and paid content through planned campaigns. The paid content will create awareness and drive them to you, but it’s your organic content that will keep them around and following. So you can e.g. build a campaign that includes light content like Reels and carousels organically, and your paid Ads can push the more in-depth content like keyword-rich blogs and articles. As long as it all ties together, you’ll keep your audience engaged and are more likely to get conversions.

Don’t Forget to Optimise Your Google Business Profile

Google Business profile for Vida Nova Retreat

First off, let me explain what a Google Business Profile is.

When someone searches for a type of business or specific business on Google, this is the listing that appears on the Search and Map. It is vital that this is kept up-to-date with the name and contact information of the business. A correct Google Business Profile really solidifies your brand reputation. 

Good reviews are crucial

It is a good idea to encourage your happy customers to leave reviews on your Google Business Profile. Positive reviews will do wonders for your visibility and also helps your SEO (search engine optimisation) and visibility. Google boosts businesses that have the most positive ratings, it’s like a reward for those businesses that are actively trying to engage with their customers through Google. 

If you’re doing particularly well, you may even be boosted to the Google Local Pack, which is the first three location-based businesses at the top of the search page. 

Consumer motivation these days is often extrinsic and your reviews can massively influence customers. 91% of consumers read online customer reviews to make a decision about your business, with 84% of people weighing online reviews the same as they would a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member, according to INC.

And how does this help your sales? Invesp’s research shows that 72% of consumers will convert to customers only after reading a positive review and Marketwatch states that most will pay 22% more for a product or service if the company has a good online reputation. Of course, positive reviews will also improve the click-through rates to your website, in turn, organically helping your rankings. 

Online Consumer Behaviour

So, how do you get the most out of Google Reviews?

  • First off, remember to send your Google Business Profile link to your customers and encourage them to positively review you.
  • Respond to all reviews promptly and make sure you address any enquiries or feedback.
  • Keep in mind that Google recognises timely active responders to reviews and boosts their rankings.

What about negative reviews?

Hopefully, you’ll never receive a negative review, but it can happen. These are tougher to deal with, but we’ve popped a checklist of things you should consider when replying to a negative review. 

  • As with a positive review, make sure you respond promptly and as a person representing your company, not the company itself.
  • Be transparent and don’t be afraid to admit it if you or someone in your business made a mistake. 
  • If it’s warranted, offer to recompense the customer.
  • If there are any falsities in the review, make sure you politely correct them.
  • Highlight your strengths, good reputation and policies and procedures that would normally mitigate issues. 
  • Try to encourage taking it offline via email or phone.
  • Remember, how you deal with a negative review can spin you in a positive light.

Consider Your Social Media Positioning

We’ve touched upon organic vs paid social media. However, what about the messages you’re putting out there?

We suggest that you learn who your audience and customers are and truly focus on their desires. Your paid ad campaigns are perfect for this task and will really help you to understand your audience better as they analyse the demographics, psychographics and behaviours of who is seeing and engaging with the ads. 

The way your brand presents itself should be based on a deep analysis of your target audience, through testing of both quantitative and qualitative data. Only then can you build a social marketing strategy that has the best chance of engaging your customers.

Plan your messaging

So what do your customers want? Maybe you are finding that your Ads relating to wellness are getting the best response. Or maybe the offer of personalised experiences or carbon offsetting is resonating with your potential customers. 

Throw out a few different Ads that showcase all the best of your offerings and see what works. 

Time Targeted Offers

How often have you seen an offer for something you want, that’s on offer, but only until a set date? Were you tempted to click and buy?  Limited-time offers are a thoroughly tested and powerful marketing tactic that creates a sense of urgency. They encourage customers to act quickly to get a deal before it disappears.

These time-targeted offers are also great for attracting new customers, who buy into the urgency of the deal, motivating them to book. 

‘Tis the season

Don’t forget that travel marketing should always keep seasonality in mind. All travel destinations are subject to seasons, and they often tie in with the weather conditions. 

There’s usually a peak season, which is more often than not the location’s summertime. Then a shoulder season, which is the period when many still travel, but not as frequently as during peak season. Followed by the off-season, a period where travel businesses experience a decline in bookings, and may provide the opportunity to focus on the time-limited offers mentioned above.

Plan your seasonal messages well ahead of time with an understanding of customer trends during these periods. Make sure you time your ads to market the seasons with enough time for your customers to book and organise their journey. Again, your Ad insights should help you understand this. If customers are engaging more with your summer-themed creatives in winter, then you should know to push peak season sales during the off-season.

Travel marketing should always keep seasonality in mind.

Human-centric innovation

We’re all familiar with the term “AI”, but do you know how much it is shaping the travel industry?

It has become an incredibly valuable tool for many travel and tourism companies and created a more human-centric experience and better customer experience.

Assistance 

Although they certainly cannot replace humans, an AI travel assistant is cleverly automated. It can help customers plan and book their trip and even adds it all to their calendar. This can help to avoid negative experiences and provide a better post-purchase journey.

Chatbots

AI-powered chatbots have done wonders for the travel industry. They can be programmed with the answers to your most frequently asked questions, automating the responses to deal with simple enquiries quickly and efficiently. This leaves your human team to focus on more specialist enquiries and bookings. 

Personalisation

Something that AI does very well, is learn and adapt. Through the data AI collects via data science and machine learning whenever you use searches, travellers can get tailored recommendations. AI’s personalisation engines are indispensable tools for enhancing travellers’ experiences, even before they book. In a world where users are overwhelmed with choices, this personalisation helps to narrow down the options and reduce the steps needed to complete an action.

Data

Of course, businesses can also tap into the data collected to help understand their buyer persona and audience behaviours. This goes a long way to shape your marketing strategy and help create targeted Ads that work to convert.

In the digital era of 2023, it’s not enough to be a good travel operator. You need to be powered by both technology and humans, to fully enhance customer experiences. 

Conclusion

The key takeaway is that your brand’s reputation and success are driven by customer satisfaction. It is crucial to ensure a pleasant customer experience at all times.

If you’re not entirely sure how well you are performing across each and every step of your potential customer’s booking and travel journey, then leverage the expertise of a marketing agency that can help your business reach its full potential.

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Esther Jacobs

Esther is a content producer by profession and a conservationist by avocation. She has gained an eclectic mix of skills throughout her couple of decades of working in copywriting and social media management. Esther’s passion lies in conservation and she controls the office naughty jar for anyone who dares bring single-use plastic to work. She also boasts being nominated as Scotland’s Ambassador of Rock through Hard Rock Cafe, once-upon-a-time.

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