Travel Industry – Multi-channel Marketing
Multi-channel marketing is becoming imperative in any industry and more so in the travel industry. Travel industry is all about lifestyle and user experience and multi-channel marketing plays a significant role in promoting the brand, service and in turn the business of travel. The channels available have multiplied, and the communications that happen in each of the channels are endless and it reaches people virally within no time. It is widely called as the social media, which is user controlled and user propagated unlike the traditional media.
It is only advantageous for organizations to make use of these channels and engage customers through these channels. At the same time, it is also very possible to get lost in different channels and it would make sense to define the objectives, define the target audience and based on that choose the channels, positioning and messaging. This would allow you to achieve what you desire for your business.
Travel Industry Marketing – In a Broader Sense!
Travel is such a personal experience, and the best travel experiences don’t come from guidebooks. The best travel experiences are gained from people you meet along the way that suggests places you would have never discovered otherwise.
This makes recommendation services an easy way for people to get travel advice from an extensive network of people who have insights into what to see, do and hear, and a willingness to share it. Travelers have increasingly started using blogs, facebook, linkedin, twitter and other social means to research, share information, comment about their travel and seek ideas from the network to make it a memorable travel experience.
Social media essentially has ceased to exist as a cool and unprofitable experiment, and instead it has become a serious marketing channel for all travel and lifestyle organizations to adopt, towards attracting customers. All travel companies have to find a way by which they can integrate social media strategies into their offerings.
This is the End!
These are some of the common quips that one gets to hear from guests. The source of all these quips is a presentation from Stratenet.
- Too many offers, too much information and no differentiation.
- I don't believe you, I don’t trust you: you try to sell me something
- 76% of consumers don’t believe that companies tell the truth in their advertisements (Yankelowich).
- 89% trust the recommendations of other consumers in the travel industry (forrester research/intelliseek).
- 52% don't trust the website that sells the travel (Benchmark Group).
- Customers want information from people like him. Customers search experienced travelers, opinions, feedback and recommendations.
- Forget your travel pack, I want "The Experience".
- Customers want the same as what he has read from other travelers; the wonderful trip with all the big things.
- "I am not searching for the lowest fare”: “I want to find the perfect trip".
- Customers know that the experience cost more, most of the time, he is ready to pay for "The Experience".
- After my trip, I might share my “Travel Experience”, whatever good or bad, you’ll need to deal with it.
Travel Industry Strategy
On the one hand, it makes sense for travel industry to utilize the social media channels towards promoting their brand, promoting their offerings, engaging the customers, interacting with the customers, listening to what people say and responding, creating groups, creating customer forums, upload photos and videos of travel experiences, write blogs on travel experiences and tons of other things that go with it.
On the other hand, travel industry has to figure out a way by which they can integrate the social media presence with their internal strategies. This will allow them to integrate their traditional marketing with social media, and at the same time capture actionable customer information and promote target specific information and offers.
The best way would be to create a life cycle website, which has all the features and functionalities of social media and the ability to integrate with social bookmarking sites, and other social media channels. This will allow travel companies to internally build their promotional strategy and at the same time leverage on the power of social media, while capturing customer specific information.
Some of the tactical activities that you can do towards internally building social media capabilities are:
- Photo Sharing – Publish photos regularly and encourage guests to upload and tag their personal photos as well
- Blogs – Blogs are a great way by which communications can be sent out about a particular place, the best kept secrets of the place etc. to a larger audience, which can certainly influence the choice of travelers. Allows guests to write blogs as well as comment on what is written.
- Video Sharing – Share videos and video tours of specific places that would allow a guest to get a feel of what they are going to experience. Allow guests to share the videos as well.
- Custom Google Maps – Creating custom google maps of a facility will promote the entire region and also will result in guests finding easier directions to reach.
- Twitter Updates – Twitter could be a way to update travelers of current specials and promotions.
- Guest Wish-List – Allow a guest wish list that describes the guest’s needs and wants, which the travel company can look at accommodating during off-season times.
- Guest to Business Commerce – Guest defines the price at which they want accommodation and other related facilities, and the travel company sends out an offer on when it is available.
- Social Media Groups – Create fan bases of specific places and even for travel companies services, which discusses the experience of the guests.
- Profile Management – Do profile management on social media channels through automated tools that allows mileage for the efforts.
- Contests – These can be trivia about travel places and whoever gets it correct can be championed as the brand ambassador for the week with some special gifts as well.
Content plays a key role here!
Some real tips on leveraging social media effectively:
- Be authentic and create compelling content to bring your brand to life.
- Live your brand and show your personality.
- Be engaging and generate feedback.
- Know your audience.
- Repackage what you have e.g., link across platforms and take your content from other areas such as press releases and websites.
- Combine social media with offline in-person events to solidify relationships.
For successful experience, some more additional tips are:
- Interact with people – connect with passionate users, create higher levels of engagement.
- Tell stories – engage and not advertise.
- Show real faces – it is a true differentiator and credibility builder.
- Optimize different channels – increase your brand and product awareness.
- Aim at user generated content – make fans and not friends.
Travel companies need to integrate traditional marketing, sales and service activities with social media without losing focus on their core business. The ability of travel companies to integrate the features and functionalities of social media in their internal systems will ensure capture of customer data, unfiltered feedback, and informal conversations into their existing customer management initiatives and processes – this will weed out the noise and provide capabilities to listen and act on them.
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