Effective Digital Marketing for the Travel Industry

The travel industry, like most other sectors and advertising in general, can be a finicky thing. Advertising destinations, cruises, or other travel-related excursions is a lot different than a shirt, chair, or otherwise easily purchased item. The products that are being advertised are dependent on the consumer’s income, availability, personal preference of location, weather, and about a million other things that the advertiser can’t control.

. . . So good luck with that! (Is what most people would say)

But we wouldn’t be the digital display advertising specialists we claim to be if we didn’t have some great advice on how to effectively and creatively advertise for the travel industry.

The Basics of Travel Ads

Your creatives should do three things: 1. actually be creative 2. appeal to your audience 3. directly address their concerns or needs, specifically their travel wants or needs. Pretty easy, right?

Studies have shown that those 18-23 years old, 24-25, and 36-55 all said that appealing deals in travel ads were a big, or maybe the biggest, influence in their decision-making process. So it’s fairly unanimous that nearly the entirety of your audience wants to see good deals advertised. That’s probably not a huge surprise.

But when you take into account that the 55+ crowd also want to see deals in their travel ads (61% of them to be precise) and then combine it with the fact that of that same senior-aged group, 66% of them want to see informative ads even more than good travel deals.

But wait there’s more!

Travel industry surveys have also shown that 41% of business and 60% of leisure travellers are making their arrangements online, meaning that nearly half of the travel industry’s business is coming in digitally, and more than that for the other sectors of travellers.

So, the target audience for the travel sector is varied, with some groups very into the deals they could get and some groups being more into information about the place or destination in the ad. Almost half of all travellers are solidifying plans through a phone, computer, or tablet. Now you’re expected to effectively advertise various deals, destinations, and information in an eye-catching way across multiple devices to these varied groups of people!

There are, of course, many sources you could ask, techniques to try out, and various servers and media companies that you can turn to for help. But as we’ve had quite a few clients in the hotel and airline sectors, we’ve carved out four main points to help you effectively advertise to the travel industry.

Get Mobile

More than 78% of business travellers use a smartphone during their trip planning and more than 67% of people do online research before making any decision to travel. These are numbers that, for the travel sector, are impossible to ignore. The need for your website to be responsive, easily adjusting to various devices and maintaining functionality, is crucial. It should go without saying that digital marketing has surpassed fixed sizes and desktop units only. Every campaign you produce needs to have a multitude of units, including mobile, that can be easily scaled to the exact device the user is viewing it on.

Not only does it get your campaigns in front of more people when they can see it on any device they may use, but potential customers will be much more inclined to make commitments or purchases through their most familiar and safe devices. The bottom line is that utilizing new technology and digital marketing techniques will better serve your current and potential customers. Studies have shown that there is a 30-40% increase in bookings with the addition of an online booking system and 65% of travellers book their hotel reservations for the same day through a mobile device.

Making your site and advertisements easy to navigate and read no matter the device is going to give the user a more positive experience and make them not only more likely to convert but to have a positive memory of their experience and return.

Review your reviews

“The customer is always right” is a fairly good summary of what it’s like to shop for nearly anything on the internet. It’s not enough to have show-stopping ads (though that certainly doesn’t hurt) and a responsive website (which is still a must have), there’s another thing you need to carefully hone, manage, and cultivate—your reviews. Travellers depend on these reviews from past clients to make their decisions. Whether about a hotel, in-flight, restaurant, activity, or booking experience, every single bit of feedback that comes through on your platforms needs to be addressed. If it is positive, that’s great! If it’s negative, it needs to be addressed and rectified as best as possible. For the travel industry, managing your online reputation is essential.

It’s been shown that 95%  of surveyed travellers read reviews on their chosen travel place, activities, and travel provider before booking. That’s almost the entirety of travel customers! In case you need more proof, let us toss two other stats at you:

– 4 in 5 TripAdvisor users will ‘always’ or ‘usually’ read reviews before deciding on a place to visit or making any purchases

– 92% of UK customers agree that reviews are ‘essential’ when booking a vacation or holiday

So it seems like reviews are pretty important to customers. The upside to this is that you can make your digital marketing assets much more efficient by including positive customer reviews that will sway potential customers to book their travel plans with you as well.

Make it Social

People are always connected to their communities. Even if they’re not directly talking to or texting with a friend, they’ve got a whole pocket full of virtual connections who are busy sharing their many, many experiences, thoughts, and feelings. If someone is planning a trip somewhere, they’re going to be on the lookout for travel photos or suggestions in or around that place from their immediate circle or their broader social network.

This new interactive way of conversing with brands is a relatively new era for a lot of brands and so navigating the waters of social media while trying to steer your brand through it and make positive impressions and interactions can be tough. Mostly, especially for the travel industry, it comes down to being in the vicinity for those who might be interested, while providing informative and non-intrusive ads. Having a branded hashtag that users can attach to their own photos, will give you powerful user-generated content to better blend into the world of social media on your branded platforms. And since 97% of millennials take and post pictures while travelling, there should be no shortage of images to draw from!

Good experiences with the travel industry that are mentioned on Twitter (by the 27% that avidly tweet about such topics) create positive buzz and generate interest for the brands that they tag. Since 39% of people access Twitter using it to research their potential travel provider at least once in their planning journey, this is very good news. It also makes it almost completely necessary to have a well managed Twitter account.

All of these social touch points that seem “outside” of a brand are actually doing most of the work to build relationships with customers long before they are actually a paying customer.

Of course, in this digital age, most industries have been affected by the developments in social media and digital advertising. The rise and popularity of sharing images, reviews, and experiences online makes the hospitality and tourism industries one of the most affected industries by this ever-continuing shift. The key relies in finding a niche in your industry that will allow you to set yourself apart and outperform your competition and the major industry players.

For some inspiration of those who did it best, check out Hootsuite’s Adespresso analysis of 100 travel industry ads.

And before you know it, all your customers will be basking in their chosen destination, after getting a good deal and reading all the information you thoughtfully provided right to their devices, and you’ll watch their posts coming in like:

dog relaxing image

And if you’re wondering when to start your summer destination campaigns, we’ve got you covered!