For consumers, travel is all about adventure, freedom from responsibility, and getting away from stress—however, often it’s stressful to simply find and book travel experiences. That’s why many travel and tourism organizations are using marketing automation to provide consumers with an easier, more convenient way to not only book travel but also to identify destinations and learn about what they offer.
Marketing automation in itself isn’t necessarily a unique notion—but how you employ it can be. From working with the right software so that you can customize your approach to tailoring your strategy to meet prospects’ individual travel needs, there are plenty of unique factors that affect the success of your marketing efforts.
Make marketing automation work to greater success for you by considering the following as you design your approach.
Use what you know.
To successfully market destinations and services, marketers need to have an understanding of their prospects’ preferences: What is it that they like to do, what amenities are must-haves, etc.? By understanding these core components, organizations can then better tailor marketing content.
You can secure this information in several ways. Surveys are one tactic, but there are two more elegant solutions that might better appeal to your target audience: advice experiences and making use of information you already have.
Advice experiences allow you to seamlessly acquire the information you need by directly asking the consumer a few strategically written questions; you can then leverage the responses to deliver customized, relevant trip options and recommendations.
Alternately, leverage information that you already have on hand. For example, if the prospect is a previous client, consider where the client went on past trips—information about the destination, any excursions taken, photos uploaded, and the like are all successful contenders.
Don’t forget to sell.
The great thing about an advice experience approach feeding into marketing automation is that it allows you a soft sell while also being direct.
Some of the largest global tourism organizations (think Marriott and Disney, for example) have taken this approach, staying focused on education and relevancy. Generally, these organizations place their efforts on educating the consumer about why their company is the right choice and what they’ll experience during the trip. By using gracefully introduced advice experiences to capture information upfront, they are able to deliver tailored recommendations directly correlated to messaging about why the company is the best fit for an individual.
The approach is focused, direct, and provides useful information-and secures enhanced results.
Always drive to one call-to-action.
Even though tourism is generally a B2C effort, we’ve found success in leveraging lead nurture tactics typically seen in B2B. For example, you might use a landing page to capture initial information, getting more specific at each question point. Then, from there, you develop an ongoing conversation over a specific period of time.
That conversation will likely start with why your brand is a good fit for the client based on what you know, and then you’ll use subsequent touches to lead the consumer to various destinations and clarify why your brand is best. You’ll apply what you have learned via the advice experience, direct feedback, and information about past trips to approach the consumer with the right destinations and the right messages. Those messages might focus on amenities or destinations according to the time of year. Regardless, each one needs to be unique, and each one needs to drive back to a specific call-of-action.
It isn’t what you say … it’s how you say it.
As with any survey, success is very much about understanding upfront the context of what you are trying to glean and proactively planning how you will use that information. That said, when you ask questions, the way you ask the question is very important. You don’t want to simply drive the consumer down a path to choosing one of several preset options; instead, you want to cull all of the options and engage the consumer in a dialogue so that you can provide a more insightful recommendation.
Often, it isn’t about asking the obvious questions—for example, “Where do you want to go?” or “How much do you want to spend?” These questions are limiting and drive to a calculation format. Instead, ask questions such as “What destinations have you previously enjoyed?” or “What are you interested in experiencing—adventure, nature, etc.?” These questions will help you to gain better overall insight to provide stronger recommendations.
Ensure quality across the board.
Remember that you are providing a larger experience that includes the travel but carries through each marketing touch. Make sure that your content fits that experience and your brand at each point.
The experience begins with that initial marketing piece, which should incorporate quality imagery and language. Once consumers land in your advice experience, they’ll find each asset taken one step above. For example, rather than landing in a static video, they’ll find themselves presented with a few questions that lead to a customized video speaking directly to their interests. They’ll be given information about destinations that truly appeal to them based on their interests and habits—and that information will include relevant excursions. Once they book, they’ll receive access to your user community, where they can interact with other travelers and continue their education. This access will also feed their interest in future opportunities.
Each travel experience is unique, as is each traveler, so use your marketing touches to extend that experience and make getting to the destination a fun part of the process. From great creative to advice experiences that feed to marketing automation (and send the right information at the right time), your strategic travel marketing approach should help you build dialogue with the customer and provide an enhanced, elegant opportunity to discover and coordinate travel.