COVID-19 may have the travel industry on lockdown, along with the rest of the world. But that will eventually end. When it does, travel brands need to be ready for a resurgence. Every market indicator prior to February 2020 pointed upwards for global tourism.
The rebound from the 2008 travel slump depended on a move online for travel brands. If you want more detail, check out our eBook: Why the travel industry will survive and thrive post-pandemic. The point is that ‘online’ already plays a role in your customer engagement strategy, and social distancing places even greater importance on digital channels right now.
Disruptions are always a good time to assess opportunities and re-align with market trends. Social distancing means that the demand for digital-first sales strategies has never been higher. It’s critical for your efforts to remain in contact with your existing customers. It will also be critical for your eventual recovery. Here, we will discuss the digital marketing tools that can open the door to new digital-first marketing strategies — helping you weather the current storm and prepare for a swift recovery.
Website personalisation software
Website personalisation software customises your website’s content based solely on your customers' behaviours while online. Typical websites offer only a single experience for everyone who visits the website, but website personalisation allows brands and businesses to greet present visitors with a unique experience tailored to their needs.
This is so popular in the travel industry because it helps businesses optimise their content by letting them create a more unique and individualised customer vacation experience. It’s a win-win for everyone! Two popular website personalisation tools include:
Integrated chat support software is offered via LiveChat for your website. Chat allows a truly personalised support experience for your customer and reduces frustration when users have a question or an issue they need help with.
LiveChat offers an amazing communication opportunity that allows a business to guide the visitor from the chat through the checkout process, reducing the number of abandoned shopping carts and resulting in more reservations made or tours booked. Chat support on your website also helps to take some of the calls and emails from customer service teams, as LiveChat indicates that eight out of 10 chat cases are resolved online during the chat.
BrightInfo utilises the existing content on your website to engage new visitors, and a personalisation algorithm builds a set of widgets to automatically display while the guest is browsing naturally on the website. The algorithm automatically assesses your website content and displays an Overlay and In-Page widget, which is a great way to advertise vacation sales and trip add-ons during purchase.
Promo code generators
Promo code generators allow marketers to distribute promotions without risking the viral-misuse of codes, and without creating administrative hassle. A good promo engine will automatically generate, process and redeem unique codes through a CRM integration.
Promo code generators also allow for the personalisation of promotions, in addition to the personalisation of messaging. This introduces creative possibilities around gamification, and improves offerings aimed at customer loyalty and shopping cart abandonment. Promo code generators are great for coupon campaign management as well as tracking marketing efforts.
One example of the versatility of these tools is how some travel brands have been able to use them during the COVID-19 pandemic to issue vouchers, rather than cash refunds, in response to forced cancellations. If you want more tips about this, check out our blog — Preventing revenue loss through cancellations. Two popular promo code generator tools are:
Yes, this is our tool, but we wouldn’t brag about it if it didn’t work for so many brands! — check out our case studies to see for yourself. Uniqodo offers a promo code engine that makes targeted promotional campaign creation simple. It’s customisable, flexible and brings automation features to the table that allow you to focus on strategy, not admin.
Uniqodo also comes with great analytics capabilities, allowing you to track conversions, A/B test messaging and hone your campaigns. And the system hooks straight into your CRM, making it easy to use and deploy.
If you don’t want to use us, the competitor that we would recommend is Voucherify. They offer a great product that allows businesses to build coupon, discount, and referral campaigns via their all-in-one sales promotion platform. If you want a benchmark to compare us against from an interface and usability standpoint — they are the ones to beat.
A perfect tool for just about any travel-related brand or business, a chatbot offers a variety of perks for industry professionals. They can act as a virtual travel agent and concierge, offering personalised service and suggestions based on their preferences. In addition, chat bots for the travel industry utilise text, audio, and images to answer FAQs, accept reservations, and even forward the customer to a human if they get stumped! Two effective chatbot tools are:
Using the knowledge gained at Google and YouTube, CTO Henry Shi created SnapTravel as a bot and hotel booking service that can be accessed via Facebook Messenger or SMS without the need to download an app. This allows users to search for inexpensive hotel deals online then purchase from those sellers.
Similar to SnapTravel’s basic premise, packed takes the hassle of endlessly searching for deals online and helps travellers plan group trips. It works through Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp, using a mix of bots and agents that allows you to find great deals such as beach holidays, ski trips and hotels.
Programmatic ad software
Programmatic advertising is quite simple: it utilises software to buy digital advertising. With no need for a proposal or quote that typically requires human contact and negotiation, programmatic ad software allows businesses to purchase ads on publishers’ websites with little to no human interaction.
With programmatic ad software, an algorithm determines where your marketing dollars should be spent, and all that is needed from you is to enter some information into the software about your marketing campaign and key performance indicators. This is a terrific tool for travel brands, as it helps identify where to best advertise. Here are a couple of popular programmatic ad software tools:
Offering a full-stack programmatic advertising ecosystem that caters to the travel brand, agency, publisher and app developer needs, SmartyAds is a generic white-label solution that allows brands to customise it with their branding and product. Advertisers can run display, video, in-app and native advertising campaigns via mobile and desktop devices. Tools like those for ad creation, analytics and demographic targeting can help with marketing campaign management.
A localised programmatic platform, Simpli.fi programmatic platform allows advertisers to buy ads on a variety of real-time bidding ad exchanges. Advertisers can build target audiences based on criteria like device, browser, OS used, geography and more. CRM data can be imported and further enhanced for audience targeting. Simpli.fi’s reporting is outstanding and offers over 60 in-built report templates and the ability to create customised reports.
Tailor your offerings with personalisation and tech
The trends of the travel industry were on an upward trajectory before the pandemic, and there’s no reason to believe that this will change once lockdowns are lifted, so travel businesses must be prepared. It’s really just a matter of time until the travel industry is once again up and running.
Until then, use this time to market yourself wisely. Every factor that predicted future growth in the industry makes personalisation vital — and that also means thinking about threading personalisation within your campaigns. You need to think about offering your customers a range of options that are suited to them when the time comes for people to rebook holidays. Some examples include:
Staying on top of the trends of where people want to go is vital. Follow the general patterns of your potential customers and offer them relevant personalised ads that can more easily get them to convert.
Social media is also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s popular, especially when influencers play such a pivotal role in shaping the travel industry. You can even integrate the tools you use with social media influencers, for example by providing influencers access to single-use codes generated by promo engines for them to offer to their followers.
New modes of travel
Over the past few decades, travel has changed rapidly, and that includes the way people are choosing to travel. Not only were big changes made to the airline industry with new models of aeroplanes — like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 — allowing for cheaper transatlantic flights, but there’s also been a rise in travelling by train. Many consumers now want to keep their costs and carbon footprint down and so trains are a great alternative to flights, especially in Europe.
Brands need to adjust to these changes in trends and ensure they’re offering personalised offers to their consumers who would rather opt for different modes of transport.
New types of accommodation
The rise of companies like Airbnb have changed the travel industry. Since 2008, Airbnb properties have hosted over 500 million guests. They have opened up more affordable ways to travel for consumers. Not only that, but it has also opened up the kind of holidays people are having, giving customers more choice to tailor their holidays to their exact preferences. Travel brands should think about integrating directly with companies such as Airbnb. Keep on top of the latest trends and you’ll be able to offer customers more personalised deals.
Providing new experiences to a range of customers
It’s clear that consumers want new and exciting experiences when travelling, and that means providing them with what they demand: new places to go, new ways to travel and new places to stay. This also means that you can’t neglect the booking process — this needs to be made as easy as possible for consumers who will be itching to travel after lockdown is lifted. Consider how you can do that with advances in technology, using the above examples but also keeping in mind tech such as AI and augmented reality. You can read more about this in our blog about key technologies travel brands should be utilising.
It’s important now more than ever for travel branded businesses to take the time to understand and utilise the unique digital marketing tools that are out there to prepare a product, service, or brand that is ready for the travel boom coming. Try the new marketing tools discussed to help you promote your business and deliver your message directly to your target audience to increase conversions.