Guest Post: How to capture footloose browsers

Guest Post: How to capture footloose browsers

By Ian Welch, consultant, data & analytics at Experian Marketing Services

When it comes to choosing their holidays, consumers are increasingly using the internet to compare offers from travel companies. Indeed, the growth of the internet , coupled with the rise of online-only travel providers and traditional travel companies taking a multi-channel approach has seen the emergence of new groups of travellers – the Armchair Travel Bookers – who have discovered the convenience of researching and booking trips online.

So how can travel companies reach modern digital consumers? Below are eight key tips that will help to effectively meet the needs of consumers in today’s multi-channel environment.

Map the journey

The journey includes awareness, consideration, short listing, purchase, and hopefully additional purchases of other services or destinations. It is important to map this journey for three reasons:

– Enable each stage to be measured so that performance indicators can be set to measure potential demand
– Help planners to understand the role each channel can play in influencing consumers
– Help develop an increased understanding of customer behaviour so that product and propositions can react to a changing market

    Be consistent across channels

    As consumers use and engage with digital channels more during their decision making process, the challenge is to keep content, messages and experiences consistent. The objective should not only be to understand customer needs, but also to understand their behaviour on particular channels at each stage of the journey so that the right information can be supplied at the right time.

    Understand, plan and influence effective demand

    While digital is a world full of insight and data, the challenge is how to relate that back to effective demand. It is vital to understand:

    – Who buys from you and which destinations they travel to
    – What other travel organisations your customers consider
    – What other destinations they are considering

      Using appropriate tools you should also look to demographically understand the profile of potential customers across digital channels.

      Armed with this information you can start to develop well targeted ongoing communications that will influence behaviour in each channel to provide a continual relevance to customers and develop loyalty.

      Use digital channels to drive improved customer insight

      Digital provides the opportunity to capture data and insight on customers in a cost-effective way for:

      – Understanding where in the decision making process a customer is
      – Measuring the experience a customer has after their travel experience
      – Providing insights into product propositions and development

        Realise that what other people say influences behaviour

        A holiday is a significant purchase and the decisions people make can often be influenced by others. By using digital channels a consumer can access communities that provide neutral online reviews, e.g. Trip Advisor; therefore it is not only essential for marketers to actively manage their presence in these communities but more importantly to also follow the discussions.

        Exploit the power of video content

        Online videos play an increasingly important role, whether this is to gather information on a potential destination or compare offerings. In 2011 46% of personal travellers and 68% of business travellers watched online videos during the research phase of their purchase2. Working with Experian CheetahMail, P&O Cruises drove a 679% boost in revenue with video in email demonstrating the need to develop engaging ways to get video in front of consumers.

        Ensure search is key to your plans

        Search is a vital element in any marketing plan and will be used by new customers sourcing information to compare offers. It is also a threat where existing customers could defect to other brands.

        Search is the number one source of traffic for travel websites online: 37% of all visits to travel websites come from search engines. Search can also be used to reveal popular destinations or unearth emerging destinations and attractions and show the naming conventions people use to find things; for example ‘travel insurance’ is more than five times as popular as ‘holiday insurance’.

        Don’t forget to embrace mobile

        Trends show that consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to access digital channels; this trend will continue to grow3. Marketers must meet this challenge and develop content that is engaging across mobile devices.

        [1] Insight from Experian’s ConsumerView
        [2] Source Google: The Travelers Road to Decision 2011
        [3] Source Google: The Travelers Road to Decision 2011

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