Today’s consumers have sorts of mediums like eMail, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and so on to research and purchase travel. And, all this is before one even actively looks out for information!
The Pain Point
Once the search begins, it turns out that even the well-informed tech-savvy traveller also requires help in planning a trip. You will find them talking to friends and family for ideas, and also reaching out to their wider online social network circle for advice and opinions. This is aside the ‘Google Search’, of course!
According to a Kenshoo report on the travel trends, the global digital travel sales are projected to surpass $530 billion in 2016, which is a 10.8% increase from the last year. This is projected to grow steadily at an average rate of 8.95% through 2019, and will touch a projected $677 billion globally.
Additionally, a recent shift of consumers who have adopted a “mobile first” lifestyle has also been evident in the travel industry. There has been a drastic jump from 21.3% (2014) to 36% (2016) of the accountability of the mobile in the total digital travel sales. This is only going to increase furthermore.
Mobile travel sales are not showing any signs of slowing down and will be the driving force behind global digital travel sales in the coming future. This will begin by current mobile travel sales climbing to almost half of total digital travel sales by 2018.
Having said that what most don’t realise is the actual reason behind this sudden dramatic shift. A major part of our day is lived through the mobile devices and apps, and the travel companies that understand this simple fact make our lives easier.
Mobile isn’t really a trend that will come and go. It is a mind-set!
In the past year, conversion rates have grown 88% on mobile travel sites. In the last five years – the use of mobile apps in the online travel space has grown dramatically from around 2-3% to over 25%. Hence to entertain the mobile audience and be mobile ready, online travel businesses must curb the mobile-specific challenges first.
Mobile bookings in travel have also grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015, and its significance in online revenues has grown from 1% to 18%. More than 50% of users have visited TripAdvisor via tablet and phone, and the company continues to see an industry rise in engagement on mobile devices as well.
As a result of this growing trend in online travel sales, marketers are also shifting more budgets into the digital space too.
Having said that – there Are certain challenges that remain untapped….
– Need of personalized services
According to the Travel Retail Trends, there is so much information and options available on the web that, even while travellers want to know about all the options that are out there, at the same time, they also want curated content that is personal and meaningful to them.
Despite the fact that travelers love review sites and online travel agencies, and use them for gathering information, it turns out that they don’t seem to use them for booking their travel. According to MMGY survey, only 13% typically book their reservations using these sites.
After a steep decline in the need of travel agents and consultants that was seen since the past few years, all these surrounding factors has again given rise to the use of a travel agent for more personalized services.
Travelers want curated content that is personal and meaningful to them, and at the same time, they also want to know about all the options that are there.
This is even truer for millennials, who are used to begin around a world of information around them. The older generations make a purchase and they’re done, but these millennials never stop shopping, and keep looking for different options.
Hence, these are the ones, who really appreciate the value of travel advisors / agents/ consultants, and their personalized services.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the Sabre Consulting, indicate that travel consultants now sell an average of 10.9 segments per day, including air tickets, hotel, car, and other amenities.
Having said that – the companies and the consultants must evolve their existing business models to integrate new technologies and learn how to serve customers with new needs and wants. They need to find ways to use tools that integrate customer’s overall historic travel data and preferences to offer more personalized experience and leverage future opportunities in travel sector.
– Seasonality & Promotional Activity
Travel businesses are hugely affected by seasons and mainly dependent on the current location and destination. Due to the seasonal factor, hotel prices and airfares change daily or even hourly based on the booking activity and availability. In fact, even the promotional offers constantly fluctuate based on the competitive nature of the scenario. All these factors and the unique challenges make the travel industry one of the most difficult industries.
When considering audience targeting, one has to be aware of the traveller’s current location, and locations they may be most interested in, create segments and then create customized campaigns for each version for targeting. Once a campaign is seen to be running efficiently, a way must then be found to target your loyalty customers and persuade them to return for another booking.
– Inventory Management
Today, most hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies, and travel consultants represent multiple inventories. Given the nature of the width, the need to accurately represent their inventory with the right copy, creative, pricing, and promotion, then segmentation of the campaigns, plays a crucial role in the decision making process of a potential customer. Furthermore, managing that kind of spend is complex.
This is where automation can be of great play for the travel industry players.
All that needs to be done is a way to quickly create product sets that are based on defined categories or brands, and manipulated variables, must be found. All of this is, of course, keep in mind, the management and optimization of the performance at such a large scale.
Looking at the current competitive nature of the travel industry, to be able to successfully drive the whole show, a business must be aggressive and tactful to boost cross-channel performance besides having a unique business model (and a certain pain-point). Below are some of the ways that can be of great help: –
- Make tactful use of social media channels and search engines to influence your consumer
- Customize the experience with the most relevant travel ads
- Automate the creation, management & optimization of social ads
- Strategize according to peak seasons
Author’s Bio: Manish Bhalla is the founder and CEO of India’s e-commerce web development and marketing agency FATbit Technologies. He acts as an e-commerce strategist and leads the way for businesses looking for secure space in a specific industry. Manish is acknowledged as an e-commerce expert who has helped many startups find strong footholds online with customer driven-solutions and high-powered growth. For latest marketing strategies and insights, you can follow Manish through his company’s Twitter profile.