Travel marketers find themselves in an oddly familiar place. After the first wave of the pandemic, with lockdowns across the world and no vaccine available, the travel industry took a major hit. During that time, consumers were forced to curb travel plans and stay at home—but once things opened back up and the vaccine became more widely accessible, things changed with the flip of a switch.
The first wave of “revenge travel” took its course and people began booking flights, hotels, home and car rentals with fervor. Marketers who were able to anticipate this surge got out early and capitalized on this pent-up urge to venture out of the house. These marketers face a very similar situation today—with the Delta variant present across the U.S. and travel hesitancies resurfacing among consumers.
But new data shows that people are optimistic about long-term travel plans and are expecting to spend quite a bit as a result. In fact, nearly a quarter of long-term travelers plan on spending up to $5,000 on their 2022 reservations.
Travel marketers need to begin strategizing around 2022 travel plans today, even though the holidays are right in front of us and very much top of mind. People are starting to think about where they’re going to go for their next much-needed vacations and marketers who pay attention to those long-term travel plans will ultimately succeed.
Here are a few ways that marketers can successfully pull share of wallet as people plan their trips for the next year:
The price is right, but where can I find it?
More than 90% of travelers report that they will actively seek out deals when making travel-related purchases. But the real question that marketers need to ask themselves is where do consumers look for these deals?
Most people (40%) will look to online search results to find the best deals, but more than a quarter (27%) will turn to customer review sites. Beyond those, which rank as the top two preferred methods among travelers searching for deals, sites and apps that show offers from multiple brands (22%), online ads (22%) and card-linked offers (21%) are all very popular as well.
This goes to show that while price is certainly top of mind for all travelers, the ways in which people find those best prices will vary quite substantially. Travel marketers need to invest in several different channels and a variety of different rewards incentives to truly reach all potential customers.
One strategy that marketers can leverage is to stack different reward incentives on top of one another in order to create truly unique offers that will attract the attention of shoppers and are hard to compete against.
Imagine a consumer is looking to book a vacation for next summer and comes across an advertisement for a hotel chain promoting a 20% discount on reservations. The room that the customer is looking to book costs $200 per night prior to the discount being applied. That same customer continues to look around and finds another competing hotel chain in the area that is promoting a 15% discount, with a 5% cash back rate on a room that also costs $200. While the dollar value of each deal might be the same in the end, shoppers are more likely to be drawn to the deal that offers a variety of different ways that they can save. Travel marketers who can strategically invest in different combined rewards incentives will be able to stand out amongst competitors and offer deals that are truly unique.
Authenticity will remain crucial to success
Consumers want and expect more authentic ad experiences across the board, and those expectations apply to marketers in the travel industry as well. While people will be looking for the best deals, they want to be served those offers on their own terms. They want ad experiences that are complementary to their online journey rather than invasive or disruptive.
The most important thing for travel marketers to understand to create those authentic experiences is the importance of contextual relevance. Yes, investing in traditional display, search, etc. will still be very important to reach buyers who are actively shopping—but investing in contextually-relevant ad experiences will help marketers get in front of potential customers across other touchpoints as well.
Invest in strategies such as affiliate marketing—where consumers will come across airline recommendations when reading about things like the best new vacation destinations or links to hotels in an article about cities with the most vibrant night life. Also, invest in influencers who have the most engaged audiences available. Let them own the messaging so that authenticity pulls through. Publishers and influencers alike know their audiences the best. Giving them the freedom to promote messages in their own voice will resonate with their audiences and come across well-received.
Get ahead of the competition
While holidays are still on everyone’s mind, travel marketers need to get ahead of this upcoming trend. People are already thinking about their 2022 travel plans, and those thoughts will rapidly turn into actions. Marketers who invest in these strategies today will end up winning big, while those who wait will undoubtedly fall behind.
Copyright 2021 Crain Communications. All rights reserved. From https://adage.com. By Anthony Capano.