Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, chief commercial officer of Quill examines five traveller types
The global online travel market is expected to be worth $125.1bn by 2023 – and the continued proliferation of OTAs, aggregators, airlines, tour operators and disruptors like Airbnb means that competition levels in this lucrative space are now at an all-time high.
A holiday is also, generally speaking, a purchase that requires a substantial amount of consideration from the consumer. According to Google, the typical leisure traveller dedicates hours to researching destinations, flights and accommodation options, across over 700 digital touch points and 52 searches, while switching between mobile and desktop devices – sometimes taking up to five months before making a decision.
The result: a convoluted, meandering booking journey for consumers, and a significant challenge for travel brands to cut through, secure browsers’ attention and ultimately convert them to purchase. The key to achieving this lies in:
• Producing content designed to capture traffic from organic holiday-related searches, while the consumer is at the crucial research stage of their journey.
• Once the browser is on your site, maintaining their attention with relevant, tailored content that answers their questions – meaning they don’t need to look elsewhere
• Ensuring the path to make a booking is then as streamlined and user-friendly as possible
Of the above steps, it’s often B – creating personalised or tailored content – that presents the biggest difficulty for travel brands, either through a lack of actionable insight from customer data or operational limitations, in terms of not having the necessary resources to produce the content required.
However, in today’s ultra-competitive travel environment, creating tailored content that resonates with consumers is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – but rather the crucial point of difference that separates the leaders from the rest. For businesses at the start of the personalisation journey, here’s a brief exploration of the five most common types of holiday-goer and their unique content needs, preferences and priorities.
Who are they? Culture vultures enjoy frequent trips abroad, often inspired by a desire to learn, explore and have new experiences. When planning a holiday, this group enjoys seeking out as much information as possible – from city guides to user reviews and travel blogs – and they often draw up detailed itineraries in advance so they can make the most of their time away.
Content preferences: Travel brands should target this group with helpful destination guides, including general information on cultural hotspots and local historical and architectural sites, alongside more specialist ‘insider’ tips on hidden gems off the tourist trail. This will help this segment map out their holiday, capturing their attention at the early research stage of their booking journey.
Who are they? With an above-average income and a taste for the finer things in life, this large (and growing) segment look for holidays that will help them refresh and recuperate – with 69% of Brits stating that they have taken at least one holiday dedicated to ‘wellness’, and a third doing so annually.
Content preferences: Given this segment’s focus on rest and relaxation, it’s likely that they will begin their holiday booking journey with a generic leisure-related category search, for example ‘best spa resorts in Spain’ or ‘Mediterranean cruises’. To capture organic traffic from these valuable long-tail searches, travel businesses need to make category pages a key pillar of their SEO strategy – ensuring they are enriched with unique, authoritative visual and written content that inspires users (aspirational photography appeals particularly to this group) and helps them narrow down their destination and accommodation options.
Who are they? These adventurous travellers – typically millennials – tend to have fast-paced lives and careers and work hard to save up for unusual trips away. They see travelling as an opportunity to immerse themselves in a new activity or culture and seek out authentic, ‘off the beaten track’ experiences. Often booking impulsively, they prefer to travel alone or with their closest friends.
Content preferences: As frequent social media users, escapists are often influenced by recommendations from their friends and personal networks, and are particularly receptive to messaging that taps into a sense of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out). According to Expedia, 42% of millennials use their connections’ photos on social channels as a source of inspiration when planning holidays, making UGC (user-generated content) an important engagement factor for this group.
Who are they? These are people who travel frequently out of obligation, whether that’s for business trips or family commitments. Because this group are so often on the move, they prioritise convenience and speed above all else – expecting a seamless, friction-free online booking journey, and ultimately a smooth trip.
Content preferences: Brevity is key to engaging with this segment: content should be presented in a clear, digestible format, avoiding lengthy prose in favour of bulleted lists and succinct summaries. Unsurprisingly, business travellers look for clean conditions, reliable free WiFi and availability of mod cons – an important consideration when producing descriptive copy for hotels, for example. Descriptions should be clear on logistical information such as check-in times and proximity to transport links, while also highlighting room features that lend themselves to comfort and convenience.
Who are they? Whilst families come in all shapes and sizes, this group often have similar holiday priorities: activities that are suitable for all ages, safety, convenience and access to nearby amenities. Since family holidays – particularly with younger children – can often be a logistical challenge, this group tends to start planning breaks six months (or more) in advance.
Content preferences: 2016 research from the Family Travel Association found that nearly half (47%) of parents involve their children in the holiday destination and activity planning process. With that in mind, producing secondary content that’s also geared towards younger users (for example, interactive resort maps or visual guides to children’s activities at hotels) is an effective way to win buy-in across the generation gap. From a more practical point of view – similarly to business travellers – parents will be keen to access logistical information up-front, so ensure that accommodation descriptions and destination guides include salient details about car hire, transfers, restaurants, local amenities and facilities.