Travel marketing in 2019: How to stay afloat
From Saga cruises to sporting adventures, the holidays we choose to enjoy have long defined who we are. But while the way we spend our free time might be a familiar trope, customer journeys within the travel industry have changed drastically in recent times.
Technological advances have changed almost all elements of our holidays – how we book them, where we stay, how we get around, where we eat, and what we do.
So, as travellers become more discerning and more enabled, what can the travel companies do to grow their audiences in 2019?
Booking holidays in 2019
80% of us are now booking our holidays online and 94% of us switch between devices while booking a trip. Therefore, a seamless customer journey, regardless of device or channel, should be the most pressing objective for any travel company.
Falling short of this will already be doing your business damage, and failure to get it right could have serious consequences. The warning has been issued – be prepared to innovate or die in 2019.
When we’re booking our holidays, a deal feels within our grasp more than ever. Comparison sites are well established as an early port of call for bookers, and brands should consider their key differentiators on these platforms.
Loyalty schemes are also an important thing to get right. The likes of Hotels.com and Booking.com have ramped up their tiered loyalty schemes and in-app savings in order to make their customers feel more compelled to book with them.
With 55% of holidaymakers feeling that they have to consult too many sources before making a decision, there’s a lot to be said for giving your customer peace of mind and a reason to come back. Ultimately, today’s traveller knows that it’s easy to get a deal. Competitive pricing and the right execution of offers and deals remains a key way to retain audiences.
Technology on the move
Today’s traveller is a savvy one, mostly thanks to the apps they have in their pocket.
Maps.me gives us perfect GPRS at no cost. Foursquare and Yelp give us intuitively ranked and categorised recommendations for where to visit. And Google Translate has practically removed the need to ask for an English menu at all.
In unison, these brands are helping travellers feel more spontaneous on their holidays – 85% of leisure travellers are happy to decide on their activities once they arrive at a destination.
Brands should be thinking about what they can do to complement this experience. Dynamic content in emails, easy add-ons, and a fully mobile experience should be a part of any travel brand’s UX.
Of course, tech utopia hasn’t removed the holiday maker’s bugbears entirely. In fact, it has created new ones.
No one Instagrams more than when they’re on holiday and, as a result, lesser-known beauty spots are becoming almost impossible to visit. Last summer’s heatwave and social media promotion were cited by Visit Cornwall as contributing factors to overcrowding on remote beaches. And Thailand’s Maya beach, which was seeing up to 200 boats arrive a day, is currently closed indefinitely.
Perhaps best kept secrets are the new means of capturing a traveller’s interest? Lonely Planet would agree we’re onto something – they’ve chosen to feature the lesser-trodden Kyrgyzstan on their best in travel list for 2019.
“Too much choice” is also a definite theme of modern life. We’ve already covered how bewildered holidaymakers feel when researching their trips, and this doesn’t end in the planning stages. We spend ages scrolling through a myriad of TripAdvisor and Google reviews to find the perfect spots once we’re at our destination.
Cutting through this noise will be key for brands in the travel industry. Personalised recommendations and initiative technology can lead the way here – Easyjet’s Look&Book campaign is a perfect execution of both.
Travel companies must consider how to go the extra mile to make customers’ decisions easier and simpler. And they must never get complacent. For example, look at how new reservations app Resy is stealing the market share of “newer and trendier” restaurants away from Open Table as a reminder that 2019 really is a case of innovate or die.