As digital continues to mature, there is a shift occurring among marketers: travel marketing and digital travel distribution strategies are converging, and it’s having a major impact on the industry. To be successful in this era of convergence, travel providers must think more strategically, not just about inventory, but about how they’re selling entire experiences. With convergence, new revenue streams are up for grabs and these extend well beyond the traditional traveling ecosystem.
Travellers all have needs, but those needs vary dramatically depending on the moment. Travellers are increasingly agnostic about who meets their needs, and that business is there for the taking
One week, a traveller may be flying for business, and the next that very same traveller may be on a summer vacation with family. They’re not one or the other—they’re both, just at different times. As these lines blur, habits are shifting, and travellers are finding unconventional ways to meet their in-the-moment needs.
Unlike in the past when people were using phone calls, travel magazines, and traditional travel agents to research, today’s complicated consumer is bouncing between numerous touch points in a digital ecosystem. They’re sending out travel intent signals and leaving a trail of data behind them. For marketers, this presents a golden opportunity, but only if they take a holistic approach.
It’s no longer about aggregates or averages, every traveller is unique and marketers must be flexible enough to look at each traveller’s ever changing needs and act quickly to meet them.
Smarter, faster, nimbler
If travel brands want to act quickly, they must improve their understanding of what customers want and need at any given moment. And to get there they must be “always on” across every channel. It’s one thing to personalize marketing to a leisure guest by using broad stroke segmentation, but when brands get on a one-to-one level with the individual customer, they can understand their constantly changing needs.
To get there, they must understand each customer on a trip by trip basis—and combine the person with the occasion to serve up relevant offers.
Since modern travellers are always on, brands must be, too, because always on means valuable data.
Paving the path with data
The first step is using data to establish intent. Consumers may be dreaming or researching – or they could buy at any point. By looking at each trip as a mini campaign, marketers can focus on that whole journey and the points along the way, and then engage them in the moment. Once intent is established, marketers must take what they’ve learned about each customer and put the right messages in front of the right people at the right time.
It’s a combination of taking one-to-one marketing, making sure it’s “always on,” then testing, measuring, learning and adjusting.
This dynamic approach is a shift from traditional methods that are often seasonal in nature.
It’s a race to see which travel brands can do it best, and those that do will win the ultimate prize: customer acquisition and loyalty.