Internationalising travel businesses is back on the agenda as the world economy recovers and the UK leads the world when it comes expanding overseas, according to specialist consultancy Oban.
The research firm provides detailed analysis of overseas markets to help firms devise their internationalisation strategy and to adapt their online presence and marketing efforts for the nuances of local markets.
Greig Holbrook, managing director of Oban, said: “The UK is at the forefront for internationalisation. There is no other country I have known for 12 years ahead of us.
“There are different strategies for different types of company. You need at least to have a plan for internationalisation, even if we are not going to do it. I think there has never been a time when people should be considering internationalisation more.”
Holbrook said the US has woken up to the opportunity and threat of internationalisation by the rise of Chinese retailer Alibaba, but it’s still about three years behind the UK.
He said during the downturn some travel firms did invest in growing overseas markets, but often they took the path of least resistance and took the easy, cheaper, option.
Simply employing software to translate a website or deciding to target English speaking markets could leave business on the table that UK firms could win, by out-competing weaker local rivals, said Holbrook.
He added with Google now favouring what it sees as more relevant localised content, it was important travel firms take a more strategic approach.
“Unless you have a strategy for a particular market the chances are you are missing out on all this opportunity. The days of the web being this homogenous place where you can get visibility have gone because there is all this local content.
“You will find in a market like Australia the competition is not well optimised. But if you are passive you are letting them beat you. The trick is to present yourself not as someone breaking into that market but as being a part of the market.”
Holbrook said the growth in penetration of the internet in countries open to cross border trading was a big opportunity for travel firms.
“We are educating people to the opportunities. There are a lot of missed opportunities if you have only English websites or just sites that are translated into other languages.
“”There are firms that are global already but just not optimised, then you have firms who are going global for the first time but need a lot more handholding.”
Oban has produced a desk calendar for general retail, setting out the key dates when overseas markets are most active and highlighting cultural differences in shopping habits. It plans to use the data it has on overseas markets to create a calendar specifically for travel.