Booking.com, Trivago, Airbnb, Skyscanner are all online travel websites that faced a lag during the height of the pandemic; however, they are coming back.
COVID-19 Effects on the Online Travel Industry
COVID-19 caused the travel industry to come to rest due to border closures, lockdowns and suspension of flights. As a result, many online travel websites announced their bankruptcy, closure or revenue loss throughout the pandemic.
However, consumers have also missed travelling, and new types of travel have become a trend. Work travel has decreased significantly since with the online video calling platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, employers and employees have realised the unnecessary cost of business travel expenditure.
Touristic travel has seen a decrease in the height of the pandemic; however, it is coming back with the ease of border controls. People enjoy going to new places, exploring new cultures and learning new things. Quarantining at one place for a very long time has made people want to go out and explore more. In other words, people have realised the importance of being free to travel.
Another new travel trend has become travelling often in a year and staying at that place for a long time. This is because many jobs have shifted online, which has made people realise that there is no need to stay in one place for a long time. Therefore, many working people have started to travel to different cities both within and outside their countries. People living in new cities have begun to emigrate to smaller cities or the countryside. Or people live in different places for a few months and change every season.
All of these new travelling habits have revived the travel industry. In addition to people becoming more online with the pandemic, the online travel industry has risen significantly. Therefore, it is possible to succeed and grow in this industry by using the marketing strategies below.
Top 6 Online Travel Marketing Strategies
1. Rewarding loyalty with personalised special offers
Personalisation will make your customers feel valued; therefore, it is essential to use personalisation tools before and after purchase. With the pandemic, most travel websites have lost loyal customers; however, countries have started opening their borders and lowering restrictions. As a result, travel websites can send their old customers information on their new travel packages and remind them about travelling.
Personalised offers can be sent in two ways. First, businesses can send Personalised Emails to their old customers regarding their specific offers. Second, companies can use Personalised Push Notifications to remind their customers about their coupons, discounts or any other offers directly to their device.
Special offers are a successful marketing strategy since they make the customer feel special, and psychologically, everyone feels better in a place where they are treated special. They would feel closer to the business and want to use the products or services they provide. Even if a customer is not thinking of travelling in the near future, when a time limit is put, the customer might want to use the special offer, even for the far future.
2. Providing personalised search
As previously mentioned, customers feel closer to a brand where they feel special. The best way to make a customer feel special is to recommend products or services that the customer is interested in.
Customers will know what they are looking for more than the other industries in the online travel industry. Therefore, if a customer is looking for hotels in Venice, the website must show precisely what they searched. Showing a different city would not make the customer satisfied with their experience on the website. Therefore, using Personalised Search has an essential role in keeping the customer on the website and helping them find what they need.
3. Adding customer reviews
An additional way for building customer relationships is through bettering your customer service and tailoring it towards your customers’ needs and wants. For example, after every journey, you can ask for personal reviews regarding their trip, such as whether it was easy to find what they were looking for or whether it was easy to purchase the product or service.
With Personalised Product Recommendations, high rated products or services can be shown at the beginning of the webpage. This would help a customer decide faster.
Especially with hotels, airlines, trains and travel agencies, it is sometimes a hit or miss with the journey. The price does not necessarily reflect the quality of the product or service. Therefore, featuring the ratings and reviews of other customers would help the new customer to have a better idea of the product or service.
4. Reinventing the package holiday
Cross-selling marketing techniques can be implemented in travel websites. Cross-selling is selling a complementary product with the main product, and thus, increasing the average basket value. In addition, travel websites do not necessarily sell one service, so they can market their different products to the same customer and increase their basket size.
Travel packages have become more popular since people do not want to buy every single necessary service from different websites because it can become complicated and time-consuming.
For example, a travel website can offer their customer a hotel, a flight, and a taxi ride to and from the airport. Cross-selling can be implemented when a customer is searching for a hotel room: The flight recommendation can appear at the bottom of the page or the bottom of the basket page.
An excellent way to get a customer into buying the package is to offer specific packages beforehand and let the customer pick between them. Then, certain discounts can be applied when a customer decides to use all products. This way, it is possible to create a more loyal customer base and increase the average basket size.
5. Supporting the customers throughout their journeys
People, especially those travelling to an unfamiliar country or city, might feel less knowledgeable and be estranged. Therefore, as an online travel business, it is helpful to send your customers information, suggestions etc during their journey.
Two ways of implementing customer support are to send Personalised Emails or Personalised Push Notifications. For example, online travel businesses can send information on the specific city they are travelling to, add places to visit, information about the city’s history, and whether there are upcoming events. Also, businesses can send a short questionnaire on how their journey is going so far and if they were satisfied with the product or service they received.
Additionally, online travel businesses can send emails or notifications to customers about other products or services that they can use from their websites. For example, they can send information about car rentals if they have used their hotel booking service. Since the customer has used the travel business’s service before, it is easier to convince the customer to use another service again.
Either way, supporting customers throughout their journeys is important to build a customer relationship and have more loyal customers for the future.
6. Standing out in a competitive market
Consequently, one thing that the majority of the world has missed is travelling. COVID-19 has changed consumer habits and consumers might feel less used to travelling; however, it has also created new opportunities.
New types of travel have occurred, leading the online travel industry to shift their products and services and change their marketing strategies. Online travel websites are still on the rise, and by implementing the new marketing trends, and consumer habit trends, it is possible to grow the business.
Segmentify offers Personalised Product Recommendations, Personalised Search, Personalised Push Notification, Behavioural Targeting and Real-Time Conversion Analytics. These tools can help grow your online travel business and give your customers a better website experience.