Unpack a few marketing tips and tricks from the travel trade!

With the unpredictability of the UK summer weather, some may be contemplating the idea of a last-minute break or autumn retreat in search of (long overdue) sunshine. This summer, it’s estimated that over half of Brits (52%) will take a summer holiday, with 42% opting for foreign climes. With the travel bug upon us, WSA looks at 5 marketing tips from the travel industry to demonstrate how it succeeds in luring us with enticing deals.

1. Happy customers

Your reputation is key. Sites like Tripadvisor or Trustpilot can be the make or break for some businesses, with travel being no exception. Holidaymakers, who’ve spent hard-earned cash, (and possibly had a year’s worth of anticipation too), are more than happy to voice or tweet their opinions online, which ultimately serve to encourage or discourage other would-be travellers to the same hotel or destination.

Tales of cockroaches on the balcony, poor customer service, or an airline’s long flight delays can’t be buried in the sand these days. To ensure your company is not affected by disappointed keyboard warriors, always try to ensure your product or service offering matches reality.

Look at tourism. It’s reported that some destinations don’t always live up to the glossy ‘hype’ presented on Instagram or TikTok. It was quite shocking to learn that some of the world’s most famous landmarks are deemed a ‘disappointment’ in real life.

According to Expedia, the biggest online versus reality letdowns are The Sydney Opera House, the Taj Mahal, and Dubai. After scrolling through professional Instagram shoots online, the reality of these travel hotspots fell flat for some. The report revealed that many of us are enticed to certain locations on the strength of images we see on social media – either from a company, a friend’s, or an influencer’s feed. The desire to capture equally beautiful selfies using these iconic backdrops presents a modern-day ‘travel bucket list’.  As such, the volume of images available through social accounts has reduced the element of surprise (or in cases like the above pictures, the reality might be a little different from the edited or filtered pictures portrayed by a travel company). This leads to a skewed experience for many and can lead to disappointment and bad reviews.

Gathering positive testimonials and reviews on your website is a sure way to build authenticity and trust with potential new clients. They also provide a third-party endorsement – which strengthens your own brand messages and claims.

2. Getting your audience on board

As a business, you need to be clear on who you are marketing to. What are their likes and dislikes, their demographics, or their budget? Doing a deep dive into your user or customer personas can help to pinpoint exactly who your customer is and how to market to them. If your campaign tries to appeal to the everyman (or woman) it can appear too generic and might not get the positive engagement you’re seeking.

Our choice of holiday can be determined by many factors. For example, our budget, whether we are travelling with friends or family, and what we want from the experience. Are we looking to relax, have an adventure, or simply entertain the kids?

According to Expedia, the number one clincher for millennials when choosing a holiday destination is its ‘Instagrammability’.  The Gen-z and Millennial generation’s travel plans feature a desire to fill their grid with perfectly curated holiday images. In this digital age, all generations have changed the way they document their holidays – with many sharing pictures online or tagging themselves in restaurants or beaches on vacation. Though Boomers might be less about the ‘gram, appealing to this demographic through appropriate marketing might involve sharing tried and tested recommendations or case studies from preferred tour operators. It’s wise to take alternative marketing routes such as direct mail offers, company newsletters, magazine advertising, or PR.

Knowing your audience is the first step in tactical marketing, so it pays to spend time getting this right before you plan your marketing strategy

3. Don’t burn out!

We all suffer from burnout in life and the same can be said for marketing campaigns. Constantly ‘spamming’ inboxes with email offers or communications to potential or existing clients can leave people feeling the burn. Your campaign needs to feel special not smack as a desperate attempt for attention.

Keep your offering fresh and appealing and mix up the way you communicate your USPs. This is true for travel comms too. As with most consumer trends, travel locations go in cycles. Social media and celebrity endorsement can spike trends in sought-after, en-vogue destinations.

Take Mexico for example. According to Travel Pulse, Tulum received around 250,000 visitors in 2017. This was after being listed as an up-and-comer with TripAdvisor in 2016. In 2022, after those high-profile reviews, the destination became an Instagram sensation. The Cancun Sun reported that Tulum saw following years with more than 2 million visitors. That is quite a growth spurt! 

It’s safe to say that this year there are new destination hotspots being recommended. The Lonely Planet Guide hails Dominica, Jordan, Jamaica, and Indonesia as the best places to unwind in 2023. To avoid becoming a one-time wonder, remain consistent with your customer experience and keep reinventing your marketing to ensure customers come back for more.

4. Consider your online view

You are never short of travel inspiration online – from Instagram posts to pop-up ads. So, it stands to reason that other brands should follow suit and use enticing images, clever copy, trusted customer reviews, and helpful FAQ sections to appeal to online scrollers.

Social media too, has opened the world up and increased our knowledge of far-flung places. Tourists can research for months before booking a holiday and will pour over reviews and online brochures seeking the perfect break. Companies like EasyJet, P&O Cruises and TUI have user-friendly websites, featuring enticing copy and imagery to arm potential tourists with the information they need to make an informed vacation choice. Holidays are often coupled with a point-of-sale offer to create an even stronger appeal.

The travel market is saturated, yet still, some brands come out top time and again. One of the strengths of a popular holiday provider website includesa rich bed of content. They up their game with engaging testimonials from people who’ve had a great experience, including point-of-view blogs, product or service reviews, and the latest company news or deals. Connect with your audience to give them what they need to make their own informed decisions by showcasing innovation and new developments which will inspire and excite your market.

5. A relaxed approach

Too much of a good thing – or in marketing terms, saturation or ‘hyper-documentation,’ can leave your audience feeling overwhelmed. In the same way that it’s better for influencers (and the public) to post a few carefully chosen holiday snaps rather than their entire travel itinerary, your best bet as an organisation is to have a clear strategy for your marketing and social content.

Over-selling can become a turn-off for your audience. Instead, use a scheduling tool like Sprout Social to keep integrated activity staggered through a weekly or monthly activity pipeline. Being focused and spacing content strategically around core promotions, innovation or relevant national days will help you find the sweet spot of audience engagement.

Whatever your marketing needs or brand intentions this summer, keep it fresh and authentic. We are always on hand to help with any rebranding, social media considerations, or generating a buzz through PR. Get in touch with the team here…  Bon Voyage!

Joe Cuffaro
Joe Cuffaro

Joe Cuffaro joined WSA Communications in 2014 as an Account Executive and has progressed to Head of PR & Marketing. Joe has a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a PR & Communications Digital Diploma from the PRCA. He has helped clients achieve regional, sector and national coverage in a wide variety of media; including news stories on all major BBC channels (TV, Radio and Online) and providing scripts for adverts broadcast on the likes of talkSPORT. Joe has written multiple successful award-entries and continues to assist clients with content for news, advertisements, recruitment, marketing collateral and more. Despite the warnings, his dream holiday destination remains either Jurassic Park or Itchy & Scratchy Land.

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