10 Expert Tips for a Successful 2017 Online Marketing Strategy
For the travel and hospitality industry
SAY BYE TO 2016… AND HELLO TO 2017!!!
2017 is finally here and whatever happens in the next 12 months, we know it will be a year of big changes in the travel industry. 2016 brought some new merges and acquisitions, new products and technologies, a lot of polemics and some new perspectives. We can’t predict what you’ll need to do in 2017 exactly, but we can definitively give you some expert tips to make sure your online travel marketing strategy will focus on the things that will matter.
Track the Right Metrics
Likes, comments, retweets, page views, etc. are great numbers to show how popular your website is. But these numbers are just vanity metrics. By themselves, they don’t give any insight into how your company is doing. The best way to determine the value of your metrics is to consider their impact on your company.
50,000 followers on Instagram? Great. 250 shares on Facebook? Fantastic. But knowing how these metrics impact your bottom line is better. Knowing that your overall traffic increased by 25% is nice. Tracking, measuring and understanding individual sources using UTMs is better.
Look behind the numbers, into what they really mean and how they impact your company.
Get Rid of Technological Debt
For most online companies, technical debt is an unavoidable consequence of years of technology investment. Tech debt is one of the most common pitfalls for travel companies. Sinking costs into your existing infrastructure can often hold back management teams from making the right decision and that’s the best case scenario.
Tech debt can put your company in a situation where any evolution or adaptation to the market becomes extremely difficult, sometimes even impossible.
Focus on Mobile
Mobile, for many customers is the only medium of research and purchase. The latest trends are still showing a multi device approach to booking a hotel or flight. However, there is an increase in the number of bookings on mobile for millennials and people who previously researched information about their travel using mobile.
41% of millennial travellers say they’ve used a smartphone to shop for flights. And about 2/3 of them said they are planning an entire trip on a smartphone. So how can you make their mobile experience better? Start with speed, mobile-friendliness, adapted content and experience.
Be there at Each Stage of Your Customer Life Cycle
A guest experience doesn’t start at check-in and doesn’t stop at checkout. A traveller has made hundreds of decisions before boarding a plane or walking into a hotel. As Google put it, make sure to meet them in all of their ‘travel moments’.
- Inspire them in their I-want-to-get-away moments.
- Make sure to be there and be useful when they have their time-to-make-a-plan moments.
- Make them feel comfortable when they are in their let’s-book-it moments.
- Give them all the information they need when they are in can’t-wait-to-explore moments.
- And finally listen and answer when they give you feedback and reviews.
Make Your User Experience Fluid
Often, small tweaks can make a big difference to your business by making the user experience a little more intuitive. Online travel agencies spend a lot in making their user experience as smooth as possible. If it’s too hard to book on your site, those customers will just go to Expedia or elsewhere and you will lose commissions and valuable guest profiles.
Make Sure You’re on the Map
Searching for travel has become a complex multi-step and multi device process. In the constant search for better visibility and positioning, it’s easy for many travel businesses to overlook local SEO. But your local presence is key to attract customers that are searching your location and are ready to engage. Online advertising via geo-targeting still gets amazing results and helps associate your company with it’s specific holiday location and experience.
Use Your CRM Wisely
A CRM is a license to make money. Once you have someone’s details, use them but use them well. Spend more time sending less emails and promotions. CRM allows us to have more data than ever before but only a few companies are really using it to make the customer experience better in real time and through multiple channels. Use this data to make sure your visitors see content relevant to their personal interests and behaviour.
Manage Your Reputation
Reputation makes or breaks a travel business. In the past few years, online customer reviews have become one of the most important influencers of travel choice. But in the travel industry, managing your online reputation is not just about fixing bad research and hiding bad reviews. It means:
- Actively listening to your customer feedback on every channel
- Being present and aware of their reviews (positive or negative)
- Being proactive and moving quickly to provide answers
- Showing altruism and sympathy
Remember, bad reviews are not synonymous with bad reputation. Appropriate responses to bad reviews can improve 84% of users’ impressions of your service*. (*European Travel Commission)
Don’t Produce Content, Inspire People to do it for You
Since 1996 with Bill Gates’s “content is king”, online marketing has become all about creating high quality content and sharing this across the web. But if you have a closer look at most of the content produced in the travel industry, you will see that it first focuses on what ranks well in today’s Google Algorithm rather than on what people need or want.
In 2017, focus less on content synced around your keyword research and more on creating content that generates envy in your audience. Envy inspires people to travel. Envy pushes them to proudly share their experience. User generated content will bring you more value than the content you create yourself.
360, Instant, Live Streamed… Focus on Video
2016 saw Youtube become the place of reference for travellers to find travel inspiration and “travel hacks”. In 2017, live streaming apps, from Facebook, Snapchat and Periscope will open up a new level of opportunity to release engaging content, conduct marketing around events and even use influencers to feature your products. Instagram is still a platform to stick with for the travel Industry, especially with the introduction of Instagram Ads. It is also the best platform to launch any user generated content campaigns.