[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]The Chinese philosopher, Confucius said, “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” Successful people and organizations are aware of this concept. Those who are successful have planned ahead, finding many benefits.
Proper plans, however, when formulated ahead of time help leaders and organizations execute projects, reach their goals, and fulfill their vision.
We are already approaching this December holiday, and lots of travel agencies have started making promotion offers and advertisements for bookings and reservations already because they want to remain ever present in the eyes of their target audience until that point where these potential customers eventually decide to become paying customers.
TripAdvisor reveals that 59% of travelers begin researching their next trip between one and three months before departure, meaning that more than half of travelers start making research on what travel company to use for their next trip months before the actual trip month. Meaning that your potential clients are already researching on what travel agency to use for their end of the year travels
Yet data from Phocuswright shows how 38% of tour and activity bookings are happening on the same day or up to two days before the activity.
Many of these bookings take place in-destination, while consumers are already travelling. Only 19% of these activities were booked more than a month in advance.
Travellers tend to break their travel planning and booking into chunks; they are often booking a flight in advance and leaving room for last-minute additions, like a tour or activity, when they are in a destination.
They know what needs advance planning and what they can leave as a spontaneous choice for later. Travel providers like you need to allow for both planning and spontaneity.
Makes sense right?
So where does your travel agency fit into all of these online behavior that your potential customers are taking online?
The first step is to understand how are consumers booking.
Research and findings by TrekkSoft reveals that 82% of tour and activity bookings processed by TrekkSoft takes place on a company’s website or mobile app.
The use of online travel agents is growing rapidly. In fact, Google says that more people are staying on mobile to book instead of device switching. After researching on their smartphone, 79% of mobile travellers in 2017 completed a booking. That is significantly higher than the 70% who did so in 2016.
Dave O’Kelly, CEO of SANDEMANs NEW Europe:
“Over 50% of our bookings are taken on mobile and typically
within the two weeks pre-arrival into the destination. That
provides a whole wealth of opportunities for us… We can
facilitate easier, more exciting, and more interesting
interactions pre-trip, during a trip and post-trip and own as
much of the guest experience as possible”.
This is a ton of information, but… How can your travel agency use all these information to better craft an effective strategy that helps increase travel bookings and reservations against this December holiday?
I am going to guide you on a very simple, yet effective way to create a very effective marketing plan, and this has been broken into different but very simple stages that you can easily act on.
Understanding Consumer Behavior and the Customer Journey
The importance of consumer behavior research cannot be over-emphasized when crafting out a well organized and effective marketing strategy for any business at all.
This research process involves finding answers to questions like:
- How are customers booking travels?
- When do customers book travels?
- What actions do customers take before deciding on what travel agency to choose before booking a reservation?”,
- What channels do they use to conduct their research before booking travel reservations?”
Answering the above questions can provide deep insights on how a travel agency like yours can decide when, where and how to spend marketing budget to maximize returns on investments.
For example, the data that we have provided in this blog post on when do consumers make research on bookings and when they eventually make their bookings has given you insights that a travel agency like yours should start making plans for marketing and getting more customers this upcoming December holidays.
Digital Channels that best work with your Customer’s Journey
The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Panasonic, did an interesting worldwide survey in 2014 called “Creating a Seamless Customer Experience.”
The survey asked the executive group and the customer group similar questions. It asked executives, “Which of the following channels does your organization currently use to interact with customers?” It asked the customer group, “Which of the following channels do you use to learn about and compare products?”
I’m sure you are anticipating what they found. The executives focused on a few channels that were popular with customers, but for the most part, the differences between the channels executives thought were important and those that customers chose as important were significant. I chose the five channels that were the most at odds to report here. They include:
Twenty-five percent of executives say their company uses search engines to interact with their customers; 69 percent of the customers say they use this channel.
Friends and Family
Zero percent of executives say their company communicates with customers through their family and friends; 51 percent of customers say they consult family and friends.
Nineteen percent of executives say they use independent websites to interact with customers; 46 percent of customers say they use these sites.
Sixty-seven percent of executives say they use email to interact with customers; 38 percent of customers say they use this channel.
Fifty-five percent of executives say they use the phone to interact with customers; 24 percent of customers say they use this channel.
One key benefit of mapping out your buyer’s journey and knowing where each of these digital channels fit in is that it helps you understand where to put your greatest effort.
To gain deeper insights on how to create a marketing system for your travel agency that works, download our free ebook that explains in-depth about marketing strategies that you could leverage at your travel agency this upcoming December holidays.
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