Top Online Marketing Strategies to Increase Bookings

Online marketing has dramatically shortened the distance between you and your customer, yet it comes with a new set of challenges.

Today it is easier than ever before to pour money into direct marketing which can deliver little in return.

The onus is now on us, as business owners and marketing strategists, to decide which are the best digital marketing strategies to use – a decision that is far more complex than it first appears.

Particularly when the list of options is so extensive.

Yet, with 83% of adults now choosing to book online, we all know that digital marketing is something that none of us can afford to ignore.1

In fact, in 2018 82% of all travel bookings were made online via a mobile app or website.

With figures set to rise to over 700 million online bookings by 2023, understanding how to use digital marketing to increase bookings is of growing importance 2.

To make the decision easier, we have compiled a list of the top online marketing strategies to increase bookings because having an online presence doesn’t automatically deliver a return on investment.

Here is your practical guide to effective digital marketing strategies for travel and leisure brands:

ROI is the key issue when it comes to digital marketing. With such easy access to a vast array on online marketing, whether it is Facebook ads, video marketing, Instagram promos or Google ads it is easy to feel that you are achieving much, when in reality your ROI is little to none.

Use this guide to ensure that you choose solid marketing strategies that will deliver a strong ROI and increase your bookings long term.

How to use internet marketing to boost bookings

How will you best reach your target audience and convert them into paying customers long term?

The difficulty with internet marketing is that for marketing to be effective it needs to reach your target market and convert.

This entails effective segmentation.

To market with purpose it is crucial to understand how your target market use the internet, including their digital marketing tools of choice.

Hone your brand voice and consider how it will connect with your target audience.

Identify your marketing goals and purposes to ensure that your budget is spent wisely on the right tools for your target audience, leaving room to test, evaluate and adapt your approach over time.

Image credit: medium.com

With focused planning, monitored implementation and the right marketing strategies it is possible to harness all of the brilliant opportunities that digital marketing brings.

Let’s take a look at the best online marketing strategies to boost bookings.

Social Media

Social media is one of the fastest growing digital marketing tools for the travel and leisure industry.

Social platforms provide a rich variety of exciting and fresh ways to reach your target audience and build a better understanding of your brand.

According to Khoros.com 37% of the world’s population, that is 2.8 billion people, use social media.

However, the first step is to understanding how to gain a ROI is to understand the differing potential that each social media platform holds.

The five biggest social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat each attract a different audience and offer varying marketing capabilities.

Attempting to target all of the biggest platforms is a waste of resources, instead, identify the platforms that are favoured by your target market and assess which of those offer the best marketing tools for your brand.

Sproutsocial.com have an excellent overview of the differing ways that the global market use each of the top social media platforms:

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

SnapChat

Pinterest

Image credit: sproutsocial.com

As these statistics and more show, from gender to age, income and interests, the social media platform that you choose to use is integral to your success in connecting with your target market.

Facebook retains the largest spread of users and an exhaustive range of marketing tools for businesses, although Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat offer highly competitive features as well as large market shares for their niche users.

Once you have the right platforms secured, the main areas of focus are creating high-quality, targeted content that:

  • builds a clear and enticing picture of your brand
  • attracts and connects with your target market on an emotional level
  • sets you apart as an industry leader/ authority
  • gives your target market a reason to keep coming back to your page long-term by using a mixture of inspirational, informative and entertaining content
  • draws your target market on to your website to eventually make those bookings (or for some platforms the bookings can be made directly on the platform itself).

Secondly, actively find and engage with your target audience using likes, follows, hashtags, exciting competitions centred around your customer base (see example below), exclusive offers, personalised comments and more.

Image credit: Shortstack.com

The next tier of social media use for businesses is to use paid advertising. The market leader by huge strides when it comes to paid social media advertising is Facebook.

According to Hootsuite.com Facebook is the third most visited website in the world.4  With the largest spread of users and biggest chunk of the social media market, Facebook is the obvious place to start for paid social media marketing.

Let’s take a look at how to use Facebook ads to increase your bookings.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads enable anyone to turn Facebook into a powerful marketing tool at what appears is a click of a button.

Image credit: blog.hootsuite.com

Yet in reality, to obtain effective ROI, your Facebook ads need to be as carefully targeted and well-planned as any other ad campaign.

A point of growing realisation to many. Facebook ads require a budget, solid strategy and marketing expertise.

Sending Facebook ads across the globe with the potential to reach millions feels great, until your insights show that a wide reach does not translate into more website traffic or bookings.

To increase your bookings with Facebook ads you will need to first allocate a realistic budget with a planned daily spend that can deliver results.

Secondly, you will need to harness a range of tools to identify and reach your target market, using criteria such as location, interests, previous website visits and more to locate potential buyers.

Next you will need to create, launch, evaluate and re-test a range of targeted ads to find the ones that work best.

Additionally, there are a range of marketing tools on Facebook that you can use in conjunction with Facebook ads.

For example, you can speed up the customer journey with direct booking from Facebook your Facebook page as demonstrated below by Fareharbour.com:

Image credit: Fareharbour.com

Meanwhile, paid Instagram marketing comes as a free add on to your Facebook ad campaigns.

Instagram is a highly visual and aspirational lifestyle social media platform that is a perfect fit for the travel and leisure industry. Owned by Facebook, Instagram is another great marketing tool that you will want to exploit.

Instagram and Facebook are the two biggest players when it comes to paid social, providing a wealth of marketing opportunities at a low cost that you won’t want to miss.

Video Marketing

For the travel and leisure industry video marketing remains a relatively untapped area of online marketing that it is well worth exploring.

With video marketing rapidly growing in use, it is a digital marketing tool that you won’t want to ignore.

According to Smartinsights.com 83% of marketers believe that video is growing in importance. 53% of consumers and 66% of millennials, engage with a brand after viewing a video on social media. 5

Thus, any solid marketing strategy should make use of the rich potential that video creates, particularly when used in conjunction with social media.

Like Instagram, YouTube is a highly visual, aspirational and informative lifestyle medium that is perfectly suited to the travel and leisure industry.

From ad campaigns to guided tours, testimonials, snapshots, tutorials and more, video marketing provides an ideal space to bring to life a multi-sensory experience that connects with your target audience on every level – crucial factors for any travel or leisure brand.

When creating your video marketing strategy it is essential to build in the following elements:

  • Choose the right the type of targeted ads for your purpose.

There are a wealth of different types of video ads available so review the best match for each ad campaign according to your campaign goals.

YouTube enables you to target things like location, interests, lifestyle and more to launch targeted ads that reach your target market specifically. Don’t forget too, to take advantage of the opportunity to optimise your videos for SEO.

  • High-quality content

Use a clear brand message that is easy for your audience to understand and a brand story connects with them on an emotional level. F

or example, take a look at Artifact Uprising’s brilliant use of a brand story for their custom photo gifts ad campaign.

  • Embed persuasive call to actions

At the beginning of your videos and make use of the YouTube’ Join Now button to capture your target audience quickly.

  • Face of your brand.

Understand who will be the face of your brand. You may even decide to use a influencer to really capture your audience’s attention.

Google Ads and SEO

Google Ads (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are the last, and arguably most important, pieces of your online marketing toolkit.

SEO is an extensive digital marketing strategy with many elements that all hold enormous potential to significantly boost your potential to be found online by your target market.

Google Ads too, provide an unmissable opportunity to build a more profitable online presence.

Using techniques such as keyword optimisation, targeted Google Ads, Google Business, reviews, Google Analytics and more it is possible to stand out in the sea of competition that search listings create.

With a mobile-ready website and structured use of well-planned email marketing to ensure that your customers and website visitors remain with your brand long-term, you have a concrete set of marketing strategies that are specifically suited to the travel and leisure industry and guaranteed to increase your bookings.

As we begin to fully uncover the potential that digital marketing brings for travel and leisure companies to boost their bookings and build their brand, it is increasingly clear that a ROI requires a significant amount of time and expertise.

 

At Apollo , we deliver a complete range of digital marketing services to increase your bookings. Working solely for the travel and leisure industry, we have a deep knowledge of how to utilise online marketing for travel and leisure brands.

Whether you need social media marketing support, video marketing, SEO, online advertising or something else, give us a call on: 01730 239858 or contact us to have a chat about how we can help you.

Our guide to Facebook advertising

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Sources:

1 https://www.condorferries.co.uk/online-travel-booking-statistics

2 https://www.condorferries.co.uk/online-travel-booking-statistics

3 https://khoros.com/resources/social-media-demographics-guide

4 https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics/

5   https://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-platforms/video-marketing/video-marketing-statistics-to-know/

 

How to Create Landing Pages Which Boost Your Bookings!

A Guide to Landing Pages That Convert

With so many pages to manage on your website, it is easy to overlook the difference that carefully planned landing pages can make to your conversion rates.

With the right strategy behind it, a well-structured landing page can boost your bookings ten-fold.

How do you structure a landing page to boost bookings and sales?

It involves more than just great landing page design or appealing landing page copy.

To reap a solid return on investment you need your landing page to form the core of a complete strategy that boosts conversions, bookings, rankings and cultivates long term customers.

Here’s how to create landing pages that convert:

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page enable your visitors to find exactly what they want on your website straight-away.

It is a dedicated page for a single campaign, product or purpose.

Image credit: Magnolia.com

about one campaign or product, making it easy for the prospect to learn more and make the next step in their journey.

Magnolia’s landing page for their holiday rentals provides a wealth of practical information, so practical in fact, that you imagine yourself there within seconds of landing on the page.

Filled with enticing photos, bitesize but really useful information, a clear message and call to action at the top of the fold, plus some really clever use of language, this is a compelling and brilliant example of a targeted landing page.

Therefore, an effective landing page is a powerful part of your sales funnel that should be linked to a well-planned promotional campaign if you want to achieve a high ROI.

Image credit: epsilontheory.com

When it is executed well, a landing page can a rich opportunity to secure your prospect at the discovery stage.

It can both capture your target audience for your campaign and give them the precise information that they desire so that they can learn more about the product or campaign quickly.

A landing page also provides a place that prospects can return to easily if they want to evaluate the offer again.

Therefore, a landing page helps to speed up the customer journey whilst creating a positive experience for your visitors that aids their decision-making.

Why Landing Pages Work

Here are some of the top reasons why landing pages increase conversions:

Tailor your campaign to your niche target audience

From the strategies that you use to build initial awareness to the copy on the page and the call to action; everything can be specifically created for the ultimate goal of securing bookings for one targeted campaign.

The importance of reaching the right people, with the right message, cannot be overlooked.

Image credit: masterclass.com

Masterclass have turned their landing pages into a rich source of information.

A clear indication that they know their market well, this is an evidence-filled landing page, which delivers the evidence, facts and visuals that so many sports fans enjoy.

From reviews to vids of your sports hero in action, this is a great example of a landing page that plays to its audience.

They appeal to our need for speed and our short attention span

We know that we have seconds to keep prospects on a website.

When you use landing pages, there are no distractions.

With the freedom to only include small amounts of specific information on the, when your visitors arrive they are able to find exactly what they need easily and quickly.

Focus on conversions

With your prospects attention in hand, you can seamlessly guide them to the next stage in the sales funnel, giving you lots of power to support them and keep them on your site to complete their customer journey at a quicker pace.

Develop an audience

As your prospect’s awareness is already raised through targeted promotions, your landing page now provides a valuable opportunity for you to collect significant data about your target audience.

From capturing email addresses to understanding their preferences this is potent information that you won’t want to miss.

Image credit: hbloom.com

Improve your page and website rankings

The wide range of targeted strategies that you will use in relation to your landing page niche, will also serve to aid your page and website ranking.

Yet as great as all of that is, a well-designed landing page alone is not enough to produce high conversion rates.

A landing page is not a single entity. For a landing page to deliver the level of bookings that you want, it needs to be one link in a chain that creates a solid marketing strategy for your campaign.

How to Build a Landing Page Which Converts

To create a complete strategy for your landing page you will need to think about it as a central part of an overall strategy for a single campaign.

Whether that is an offer, an event or a specific destination, the ultimate goal of your landing page is to convert that visitor into a customer.

According to Blog.Hubspot.com ‘79% of marketing leads never convert into sales’. 1

Therefore you need to look at the sales funnel in its entirety.

Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance MarketingSherpa

How will the visitor find the landing page? What information do they need to gather from the landing page to help them to make a decision? Where should the page take them next so that they can make that booking?

Targeted Campaigns

Your customer’s journey to your page is as important as the information that is on the page when they get there.

That first step is one of the biggest differences between a page that converts and one that under performs.

If your initial strategy to build awareness of your page is not carefully planned to target the right customer, you will end up with traffic that doesn’t convert or no traffic at all.

Therefore, the promotion of your landing page should be carefully targeted to attract the right customer for your campaign.

How do you do that? Research and targeting.

Research your customer, test your campaigns and hone your content until it appeals to the right audience.

Without the right customer visiting your landing pages, you cannot make those bookings.

But that is not all there is to do.

SEO Keywords

Keywords are the rocket fuel of digital marketing and it is no different for your landing page.

Your landing page needs to be optimised for your core keywords, but to boost bookings through a complete strategy you need to take things further.

We just identified the high value of the first stage of your funnel, so it is here that your keyword optimisation should begin.

From your Google Adwords campaign to your social marketing, page snippets and more, you want to have a solid promotion around your landing page that is fully linked with your single goal of harnessing your niche customer.

It is here that it is easy to see why so many landing pages under perform.

It is not just as simple as creating an attractive landing page design, adding a snappy call-to-action button and some enticing copy – this is a full, structured campaign for each individual landing page.

Don’t dismiss this as too much to manage. We can do this and so much more for you. Conversions take work, time and much persistence as you test, analyse and re-test.

We have extensive experience in helping ambitious brands to generate more bookings.

Learn more about help with your website’s SEO.

Strong Promotional Content

SEO-optimisation alone is not enough.

Bolster your SEO optimisation with rich, carefully targeted promotional content that builds awareness of your page and captures the interest of your target audience.

From ads to emails, social media and more, we have a wealth of promotional tools at our disposal that can provide powerful, fun and exciting ways to capture your target market.

Together, strong SEO and appealing promotional content will create a rock-solid first stage in your sales funnel that places you in a strong position once the buyer arrives on your landing page.

With the right promotional content your prospects will arrive having already begun to form a connection to your campaign.

From this advantageous position, when your target audience land on your page you can provide the next level of information that they need to make an informed decision then guide them on to the next stage in your sales funnel with the ultimate purpose of obtaining that final booking.

Plated.com have made this look so easy with cleverly designed, highly visual landing pages that drip-feed all of the information that their customer needs whilst signing them up to their meal plans along the way.

Image credit: plated.com

Therefore, the quality of your promotional content is key.

Again, for so many companies this is where the strategy begins to weaken because there isn’t the time or expertise to devote to a quality promotional campaign on a range of fronts.

Find out more about how we can help you with your promotional Facebook campaigns, or read our guide to Facebook advertising.

Page Rankings

For any solid digital marketing strategy, page rankings need some thought.

The most important factor is that the landing page is optimised for a specific target keyword.

Beyond that SEO entails building authority links through natural (white-hat) techniques, optimising your website speeds and utilising the power of video.

It is crucial that everything works together to enhance the performance of your campaign.

Capture Customer Data

Not effectively gathering customer data from targeted visitors to your landing pages is a massive wasted opportunity.

Lots of us like to shop around.

In fact, according to Marketo.com 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy’ 2.

What prospects will do, is sign up to a mailing list or an offer as they continue to chew over their decision.

By building email sign up or an offer into the design of your page, all of your hard-won visits won’t go to waste and you are then gifted further opportunities to provide more information to aid your prospect in their decision-making.

Web Page Design

Here too, all of the other aspects of your landing page design come into play.

Your landing page design should have all of the necessary elements in place to encourage your customer’s journey to the next stage!

Including…but not limited to…

  • Making sure that your call-to-action button is in the right place
  • Using an uncluttered and clear website design
  • Including relevant information that your visitors need
  • Making the information easy to find
  • Ensuring that you landing page is fast-loading

For more about web design read our 10 design tips for your website.

Test and Analyse

Anything worthwhile takes some time.

There are so many tools and techniques that we can use to test and improve the performance of a landing page.

It is vital that you keep testing and analysing the results of your page to see what is working well and where improvements can be made.

No time to do that sort of thing? We have and we can help you.

We are a friendly and dedicated team of creative online and search marketing specialists. We can help you to boost your bookings with powerful landing pages and much more.

We have a proven track record for increasing the bookings for some of the biggest brands in travel.

From paid search marketing to SEO, social media, website development and more, we are ready to put fresh strategies in place to deliver the optimum return on your investment.

Give us a call on: 01730 239858 or contact us to have a chat about your website.

We would be happy to give some honest recommendations.

Get in touch, it might just be the best decision you make all year!

Sources:

1 https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30901/30-thought-provoking-lead-nurturing-stats-you-can-t-ignore.aspx

2 https://www.marketo.com/ebooks/website-and-seo-for-lead-generation/

Image : https://www.epsilontheory.com/the-funnel/sales-funnel/

How Travel Companies Can Engage Their Audience and Convert Them Into Customers

The travel industry is almost contradictory in its nature.

On one hand, it is an enormous ever-growing market, which has doubled in value in just ten years, projected to generate £616 billion in 2019.

On the other hand, the service it provides is highly personal.

Travellers, now more than ever, look for unique, customised experiences, tailored to their needs.

This is becoming increasingly easy, with customers looking past packaged holidays, choosing to plan and book their holidays themselves.

Understanding this duality is crucial for today’s travel businesses to succeed.

Some have to be able to engage audiences on a personal level, on a huge scale.

This is the best way to convert your audience into paying customers.

With the market being as competitive and unforgiving as it is, there’s not a lot of margin for error.

Who are your Customers?

In order to attract and engage potential clients, you have to pinpoint their customer personas.

Assess your travel products and identify who they cater to. Are you offering experiences for adventurers, corporate travel, or  beach-resort deals for families?

There are no jack-of-all-trades travel arrangements and marketing needs to be tailored to your customer.

Personalisation is key and that requires clearly-defined buyer personas.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and guides that help with this important step.

It’s important to take a look at your website audience insights in Google Analytics to get an understanding of the location, demographics, activities and travel segmentation of your customers.

Understand the channels and devices your audience is using to access your business.

You should end up with a couple of personas that you can use to help guide your marketing, engagement and conversion strategies through digital channels.

Understanding your Customer’s Journey

The development of digital advertising channels has changed customer’s expectations.

Engaging visitors and acquiring customers is no longer about just being in the right place at the right time to influence their decision process.

Kantar’s study concluded that 50% of users find brand’s posts irrelevant to them.

Businesses who treat digital and online channels as another touch-point and a chance to swoop in and sell their product run the risk of further alienating an already tired audience.

It’s important to understand the customer’s decision journey end-to-end.

This process has four phases, each with its own challenges and opportunities.

Google calls them dreaming, planning, booking and experiencing micro-moments.

McKinley named them consideration, evaluation, conversion and post-purchase phases.

With the increased need for personalisation, especially in Travel & Leisure, it’s sensible to plan marketing strategies, activities and metrics for customers in each of these phases.

Let’s explore what they are and how travel companies can approach them in order to convert audiences into customers.

Consideration

At this time, travellers just have a general idea and a wish to travel.

They are still considering options, destinations and are open to suggestions.

They are not yet making decisions and shouldn’t be pressured into it.

Awareness is the name of the game here.

Any content the considering client sees should be memorable, inspiring, authentic and sincere.

Customise it with your consumer personas in mind.

Make your brand stand out.

Effective strategies include content marketing, to reach users who are in this initial consideration phase.

Engaging your audience and, eventually, boosting revenue, starts with offering value to your potential customers, at all stages of their booking journey.

Targeted blogs can reach people who are dreaming of their next adventure

It is also important to develop a strong social media presence.

To do that, we have to understand why people use social networks in the first place.

Consumers mainly use social networks to connect and converse, and to be entertained.

Value for consumers comes from getting what they want.

If they are looking for connections, conversations and entertainment, travel companies should strive to offer them exactly that.

Build emotional connections with your audience. Engage with them.

Humanise and introduce your company, initiate sincere and meaningful conversations.

Give inspiration.

  • Timing

Tourists in Britain book their holidays a month in advance (on average), but they start thinking about them a lot sooner.

It’s a good idea to start running awareness campaigns in from September onward, depending on your seasonality.

  • Define metrics

Choose statistics that can quantify and represent the success of your strategies for each phase of the consumer’s decision journey.

In the case of initial consideration, some useful metrics are engagement rate, direct, social and organic traffic, search conversion rate.

Pick those that work best with your strategy.

  • Devices

Consider the devices your customers use in different stages of their decision journey.

For example, they might be using mobile devices during the initial consideration, but switch to desktop when they decide to book.

Make sure the whole process is effectively targeted.

  • Platforms

Don’t have the same profile on all social platforms.

Utilise unique aspects of each network and make sure your content reaches its full potential.

Stand out with your visuals and raise awareness with unique solutions.

A great example of a content strategy done right is The Journal by Intrepid Travel.

When targeting travellers who are looking for unique and adventurous experiences, offer valuable and informational content, combined with a recognisable visual identity.

With 583K Facebook followers and 239K on Instagram and a very engaged audience, the approach of Intrepid seems to be working.

Evaluation and Conversion

What happens when the consumer chooses a destination?

The dream travel suddenly becomes a reality.

In the evaluation phase, audiences are no longer looking for ideas or inspiration.

They are searching for information:

  • Prices
  • Flights
  • Hotel availability
  • Holiday activities

In the conversion phase people compare information, make a decision and complete their purchase.

For a travel company, these phases are the opportunity to turn audiences into customers.

This is especially true for smaller businesses, as they usually don’t have the budget to compete with big brands’ awareness campaigns.

In the initial consideration phase, companies try to generate demand.

Now it’s time to focus on fulfilling that demand.

When a customer searches for travel products, it’s important for your company to be there with an offer.

Focusing on these micro-moments generates what you’re ultimately looking for: conversions.

Your targeting is crucial here.

We’ve talked about creating the customer persona. Utilise data you’ve gathered so far, and target your niche as precisely as you can.

Consider the channels you’ll use.

Non-branded search marketing, display re-marketing and e-mail marketing (newsletters) are recommended in the evaluation phase.

How re-marketing works

According to Google, when customers start planning the holiday, the most common searches include “hotels/car rentals/flights to destination”. Focusing on non-brand keywords enables you to show up in these searches.

E-mail marketing offers a lot of opportunities during the planning phase of the customer’s decision process.

According to MailChimp, an average 20% of only e-mails are opened, with a 2% click-through rate in the travel industry.

To maximise the effectiveness of your e-mail campaigns, try to provide value to your customers before they consider your offer.

Include tips, advice or coupon codes in your newsletters:

 

Carnival Cruise Line

Keep your e-mails short (or at least concise), to-the-point and include call-to-action prompts throughout your message.

When customers compare different products and narrow down their choices, they typically search for “[brand name] + [location].”

A sound branded SEO and SEM strategy will enable you to come up in these searches.

Metasearch presence is also becoming vital.

When customers compare different options, they typically use websites like TripAdvisor, Skyscanner or Kayak.

Being present in these searches is a fast way to become a part of your niche market.

Target customers that show interest in the products you can offer.

In order to measure the success, and possibly optimise your campaigns, defining important metrics is vital.

For demand fulfilment activities, some vital numbers are conversion rate, cost per conversion, revenue per conversion and margin.

Keep an eye out on your activities and their performance.

Don’t wait for things to start happening, change and optimise if you’re not getting the results you expect.

Another important nudge that can turn a viewer into a customer is the company’s availability for inquiries.

Businesses often forget this.

60% of customers who contact businesses on social media expect an answer within an hour and the same number would express their disappointment for the brand for not receiving a timely response.

Make sure you’re always available for customers. Beef up your customer service, where necessary.

Create FAQs, useful articles and posts that give advice on common questions, reducing the number of informational enquiries your sales team need to deal with.

Post-Purchase

The work is not complete when the customer completes a purchase.

The phase that happens after travellers book a holiday is perhaps the most important for travel companies.

Don’t let the reputation you’ve established through this whole process go to waste. Build on it.

The best marketing resource is a happy customer.

Stay in touch with them after they purchase your product. Get their feedback and understand their experience.

Personally contacting your customers will show them you care about them and increase their chances of returning to you.

We’ve talked about the need for personalisation: gather information from customers, what worked for them and what didn’t and incorporate it into your future offers.

Encourage your customers to create and post content.

Crowdsourcing your content will make your marketing more human, personal and valuable: perfect for the initial consideration phase.

Besides this, we can’t understate the importance of reviews.

83% of people booking holidays online say that reviews play a crucial role in their booking decision.

Your reputation on websites like TripAdvisor can essentially decide your revenue.

Make it easy for your customers to share their feedback and encourage them to do it with a prize if necessary.

Make sure to address all reviews, good or bad, on every online platform.

A well thought-out reply to a negative review can do more to encourage sales than a positive review ever could.

Show you appreciate your customers and you’re open to honest feedback.

Conclusion

Travel marketing is much more than just offering deals at peak times.

Successfully engaging your audience and acquiring business is a process.

It requires a deep understanding of the customer’s decision journey and the advertising techniques and strategies you can use in each of its phases.

Each part is important, as it influences what decisions customers make afterwards, and each journey is an opportunity for travel companies to attract further business.

In a vast market that Travel & Leisure is, the greatest asset you can have is understanding of your customer’s personal needs.

Equally, that is exactly what they expect from your business.

Why You Need To Manage Your Businesses Online Reputation

The tourism industry, like several other service-based industries, has been disrupted with the rise of Internet.

Modern telecommunications have fundamentally altered the face of tourism.

Previously, tourists didn’t have access to the kind of information which we have today, and this allowed tourism brands with poor services to escape punishment for their poor practices.

Things are much different now.

Even a single review by an unsatisfied customer has the potential to destroy your reputation.

Online travel sites such as TripAdvisor, along with review sites such as Yelp, have spearheaded this change.

Most tourism brands can now no longer provide shoddy service without incurring the wrath of consumers and seeing a correlated reduction in sales.

Most travel brands have slowly awakened to the need for managing their online reputation proactively.

In this article we will discuss why travel brands need to manage their online reputation and will also share some tips for managing your online reputation.

The Role of Review and Booking Sites

Millennials are already the largest living generation in the world, and this demographic has been the lifeline for tourism industry for several years now.

In terms of buying habits, they differ significantly from previous generations and are known to pay close attention to online reviews and ratings before making a purchase decision.

TrustYou, a leading guest feedback and hotel reputation software provider recently conducted a study in partnership with IUBH International University of Applied Sciences and travel company TUI to analyse the booking behaviour of Millennials and Gen Z travellers.

They discovered that this demographic pays close attention to past reviews and customer ratings before booking a hotel, cruise or tour package.

According to their findings, 83% of travellers say that reviews play an essential role in their booking decision.

The image above shows the relevance of online reviews for booking decisions.

59% say that reviews are quite important, while another 24% consider online reviews to be very important for their booking.

A high number of travellers also read several reviews during the research phase to decide which hotel or tour package to book.

Almost 38% of travellers read anywhere between 6 and 10 reviews before making a booking decision, while 31% read 1 to 5 reviews.

These stats show the critical role played by online reviews in any purchase decision.

Many travellers decide against booking a hotel or tour package if the service provider has a number of poor reviews.

Reviews now receive more exposure as they are promoted in search engine results, with Google displaying relevant businesses in response to a search query.

We typed the top tour agency in London and Google displayed the following results:

These star rating provide a great way to be noticed. However they will also publicise a poor online reputation.

You would be far more likely to select ‘Evan Evans Tours‘ over ‘Euro Creative Tours‘ based upon the number of reviews in Google.

In our example search, business listings are shown even above text-based organic listings along with the ratings and reviews for each business.

Your reviews may be the first thing a potential customer sees about you.

Most online rating platforms including Google Maps, TripAdvisor, or Yelp allow anyone to leave a review.

Your business can be reviewed online even if it’s not listed with the website and there’s been no prior communication to you..

Travel booking sites such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Expedia can have an outsized impact on your business.

TripAdvisor is a good case in point, and we have covered this in detail in our Complete Guide to TripAdvisor for Travel Businesses in 2019.

TripAdvisor is among the most trusted source of information for travellers, and it has an unmatched library of content about almost all holiday destinations.

The site is visited by more than 500 million users each month and is estimated to influence nearly 10% of the global tourism industry.

It is far too important to be ignored.

Travellers pay close attention to what past customers have to say about your business.

It’s hard to imagine a purchase of any service with reviews such as these…

Or…

It’s natural to get at least some bad reviews as you just can’t please everyone! The more high-end your product, the higher your customer’s expectations will be.

But how you respond to the complaint can be especially important to managing your online reputation.

With a proactive approach, you can mitigate the impact of the negative reviews which your business gets.

Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management refers to the practice of managing the customer’s perception of your brand, with the goal of showing your brand in a positive light and minimising the impact of negative opinion.

ORM can be considered a part of PR or Marketing, with online reviews, blogs and comments playing the role that brochures, flyers, and banners once did.

Online reputation management consists of several steps:

Audit Your Online Reputation

Your first step is to conduct an in-depth audit of the customer reviews and ratings which your past customers have left on popular online platforms.

An audit will help you in identifying the issues which are bothering your customers and allow you to make steps to action change.

Work on ALL Major Review Sites

In today’s digital world, anyone can list your business on popular business directories or listing sites, and you need to claim your business as soon as possible.

List your business on sites such as:

Respond to ALL Bad Reviews

Online users today expect a response to a negative review quickly.

Not replying to bad reviews shows your brand as insensitive to  your customer’s feedback.

24% of users who have contacted a brand on social media, expect a reply within 30 Minutes, regardless of when the contact was made.

57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours! (source: www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-research/42-percent-of-consumers-complaining-in-social-media-expect-60-minute-response-time)

However, a bad review, dealt with well, can be more beneficial than a positive review.

Many brands have successfully improved their online reputation by engaging with their users on social media platforms.

Answering the points raised and highlighting the steps made to improve the business as a result of the feedback, show potential customers that your business has improved since the poor review was left.

Use Online Monitoring Tools

Due to the high number of sites which allow customers to review a business, it may become quite challenging to monitor your reputation manually, especially without a dedicated resource in your team/business.

Thankfully, there are several ‘listening’ tools available to marketers which make the task of monitoring your online reputation easy.

These monitor when someone mentions your brand online as these tools allow you to monitor dozens of review sites simultaneously.

You can choose a listening tool from several available ones such as:

Conclusion

The rapid rise of online media has made it easier for anyone to review a business online.

Businesses can no longer remain bystander and need to pro-actively manage their online reputations.

This is especially important for travel brands as a vast majority of buyers say that online reviews and ratings of a travel brand play an important role in their booking decisions.

In this article, we have highlighted the importance of online reputation management and have also included some tips along with some tools which will help you manage the online reputation of your travel brand.