Travel has never been easier. Since the advent of technology, the Internet has changed how travelers decide what to buy and how to buy. Researching and booking of accommodations, flights, and leisure activities can be made at anytime and in anywhere which provides ease and convenience for modern travelers. Such moments can be during a monotonous weekend, on public transport to town or even during a lunch break at work. These essential travel “micro-moments” are happening all the time every day, and for brands, they are prime opportunities.
Mobile technology has evolved human behavior profoundly. It has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. We no longer go online, but we live online. On average, we experience hundreds of “micro-moments” in a day, and we habitually turn to our phones for answers. Then, based on our careful research, we make well-informed decisions – especially when it comes to travel.
The first step in meeting consumers at their micro-moments is to consider the ways in which a traveler might come across a brand. These micro-moments are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped. By putting oneself in the shoes of the target audience, one can think like the audience – understanding their intent and mindset during their many travel micro-moments.
According to Google, within leisure travelers who are smartphone users, 69% of them search for travel ideas during their spare time, like when they are standing in line or waiting for the subway. This data shows that travel planning behavior has shifted considerably; travelers now conduct lots of short research sessions online, rather than a few, long research sessions. This data also tells brands that if they are not there during these micro-moments, they will lose many of their potential customers at such intent-rich windows.
Offer Relevant and Useful Content
Content is the new Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With a significant portion of a hotel’s revenue deriving from Organic search, having a content strategy or working with online influencers that go beyond typical “hotel information” can be extremely helpful. Gone were the days where consumers only react to advertisements. In fact, due to the advertising clutter (both online and offline), consumers are now subconsciously blocking advertising messages. Hence, brands should start to figure out what content will be the most relevant and useful to their target audience and start to influence consumers with thought-leadership marketing strategy. Today, brands should not only focus on winning their business but their hearts as well.
Looking ahead, brands should realize that there is this next generation of young travelers that may be ready consumers in the years to come. According to Google, millennials will be responsible for half ($340B) of all travel spending in APAC by the year 2020. And in many developing countries, millennials have peers who have never traveled before in their lives, and thus they have an enormous potential to be an influential source of travel-related information and advice. Brands that can provide positive integrated experiences through relevant, engaging and valuable content will win brand advocacy, nurturing potential prospects into actual customers. This strategy will also give them a competitive advantage in the future of travel and e-commerce.
Focus on Remarketing to Remind Customers
Despite putting a huge emphasis on branding, it is shocking that only 14% of travelers book with the first air brand that came into their mind when they started their online research. Even worse, this number drops to only 10% when they book with the first hotel brand that came to mind during their research. Having said this, brands have to understand that their branding efforts have not gone to waste. Branding has, in fact, led consumers to consider their services in the first place. However, researching and booking for travel tends to be a lengthy process, and thus it is critical for brands to be present throughout a consumer’s consideration journey – micro-moments. And the best way to ensure this is to leverage the power of remarketing.
Building a Relationship by Building a Community
It is far easier to earn another booking from an existing customer than it is to reach out to a new one. This truth not only applies to the travel industry but well across the board. One of the primary focus of a brand is to offer travelers a great experience, focusing on building a real connection with them. From families that occasionally travel during the holiday seasons to frequent business travelers, brands need to position themselves as the first choice in their audience’s mind. And email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to attract past customers back. As most people travel for vacation every year, it is easy to bring a brand to the front of their consumers’ mind with a carefully timed personal email. At the same time, brands can offer discounts and special offers via email to keep their list of guests engaged and interested, and in turn, converts them into an actual sale.
Social media can also be an excellent tool for brands to build an active online community. Since repeat customers are valuable to every business, social media enables companies to increase brand recognition, improve brand loyalty and provide more opportunities to convert. Staying in touch with the community is a great way to nurture the prospects and develop an incredibly powerful revenue stream. By recommending destinations, activities, and special deals on social media, brands can generate direct sales and gather valuable feedbacks from the audience. When brands build a following, they will have access to new customers, recent customers, and past customers. Every blog post, image, video, or comment they share is a window for potential customers to react, and every window is an opportunity that could lead to a website visit, and eventually a conversion. Engaging with the online community also gives brands a chance to stay on the top of their consumers’ minds.
The Future of Travel Marketing
The online travel industry is booming in Asia-Pacific (APAC). At $82B, online revenue already represents a quarter of Asia’s total travel market. And this number will only keep growing. The consumer’s purchasing journey will become increasingly complex as more touch points are going digital, giving more windows of opportunity to capture consumers in their hundreds of daily micro-moments. It is important for brands to be there with relevant and useful content whenever the consumers need them the most.