In this article we take a review of digital marketing and how it could work for travel companies based on our prior experience in this technique. "Digital marketing" has been around for some time and all kinds of organizations employ digital marketing and for some of them it is the only marketing or primary marketing technique. So does it help travel companies too? what are the strategies and are there any returns? What to expect from social media promotions? We try to cover these areas in this article which we think would help any travel company out there decide their strategy.
- Below are some of the known techniques, which we are not going to explain in detail as enough material is already available for each of these; however, we would like to highlight that each of these techniques can equally be applied for travel industry business as well. However, of course we need to tweak these techniques depending upon the results and budget which we are going to discuss in the subsequent sections.
* Social Media Management
* CPC Campaigns
* Email Campaigns
* Content creation and promotion
What strategy to adopt
- Once you have figured out which area you are going to focus; you would need to start your marketing campaigns in that direction. If you want to directly deal with your potential customers instead of a B2B agent, you would require a digital marketing strategy to directly reach your audience. You need to employ a comprehensive strategy that includes combination of SEO, Social media management, CPC campaigns, Email campaigns, paid/organic content management etc. Hire an agency that would help you in designing and executing the campaigns.
Expectations:Every digital marketing has its purpose and it should be adopted with its purpose, for example, social media like Facebook is primarily used for creating awareness, keeping in touch with your regular customers etc. Expecting it to generate new leads is futile, although it can be used to directly sell in some cases like accessories etc. So, set the right expectations for your travel business by deciding what you are going to promote. Do you want to fill seats for an announced departure? or want to promote a new destination e.g. Seychelles? Keeping the end goal in mind and designing your campaign is very important to meet your expectations.
Define your Audience:You already know your customers, however targeting your campaign exactly to that defined audience is crucial to utilize your budget and efforts to its optimum. Is your target customer affluent middle-class? or is it government employees or students? Whoever your audience is, make sure your campaign is targeted towards them. This also helps in analysis later to measure the results against the defined audience.
Budget: Ideally you may want to distribute your efforts and budget over multiple techniques and do a bit of everything. But, depending upon your budget, time and efforts you may choose to stick with only couple of techniques. Paying lot of money to SEO companies may not work if you operate in a sector that is too common. For example, if you are a tour operator based in India and selling Singapore, Thailand then focusing on SEO would be a disaster as its too common and popular destination and even if you generate traffic, you may not be able to compete with some of the big players in this sector against their low pricing. Same applies for CPC technique, where if cost of each click is quite high compared to the conversion rate then it may not make sense to use CPC for very common destinations.
Analytics:Any strategy you may adopt to begin with, the analysis of your efforts and spending would tell you whether its working or not. Good thing about digital marketing is you can start small and measure the results immediately. Based on that you would need to tweak the campaign and choose further actions.
Responsive:Once the campaign is setup and running, you may start getting enquiries or customers would start engaging on social media through likes, comments, questions etc. You need to have a system in place to respond to these engagements. Whether you would entertain customers through messenger, WhatsApp, LINE etc. or whether you setup a chatbot; whatever strategy you may choose it should be 'consistently responsive'.
Positioning:How you position yourself and your products against competition is very important and travel industry is no exception. Are your tours/stays/tickets cheaper? are you offering a new destination? a new experience? or a different way of travel? What makes you stand out and how you position your company is going to define your overall digital marketing strategy and campaigns.
- Content creation is core part of digital marketing and luckily in tourism industry creating visual content is relatively easy and its a mainstream activity. Capturing and sharing photos of destinations is easy; getting video based testimonials as well as tour videos definitely works best as a promotional content. Group photos of your tours, destination photos and videos taken by you create unique impression about your company and the way you operate.