OTB takes a look at travel marketing

Booking a summer holiday to escape from our delightful British weather? You’ve probably never given much thought to the adverts that fuel your wanderlust, so this week OTB takes a look into the world of travel marketing…

Travel marketing is perhaps a lesser-mentioned element of the marketing portfolio, with a tendency to focus on brands, products and organisations as opposed to countries. Yet given the popularity of around-the-world travel and the relative ease with which people can now access information about any destination in the world, it is little surprise that travel marketing is both a lucrative and interesting industry in which to be involved. Statistics show that the UK spends £31 billion on tourism every year, ranking fourth in the world behind only China, Germany and the USA, with that figure expected to continue to rise. Travel marketing is thus an ever growing industry, with some interesting insights available into what makes the travel marketing world go round.

It’s all about the digital

In an industry that previously relied heavily upon face-to-face interaction and excellent customer service, the transformation to digital could have proved costly for major companies relying on this traditional approach. Yet unsurprisingly digital travel marketing has now far overtaken physical stores as the primary method of contact with the consumer, with companies seeking to diversify their digital offerings across multiple platforms and trends. It is thought that 65% of business travellers book travel directly on company websites more often than through online travel agencies, with statistics from the US showing that over 50% of people favour mobile and tablet sites when researching travel information, yet still prefer to use a desktop when it comes to booking the holiday. The importance of having travel marketing that is readily adapted for multiple platforms is clearly central to success for any campaign; if your brand isn’t optimised it’s likely that someone else’s will be.

Content sells, but mainly to the rich

The buzz surrounding content marketing can be heard in a wide variety of industries, with a focus on rich, creative and valuable content lying at the heart of many a campaign’s desire to attract and retain its consumer base. In the case of travel marketing content speaks volumes, with the need for meaningful copy and representative images forming the building blocks of any successful travel campaign. Yet research has shown that content-rich marketing achieves best results when used to target the more affluent traveller, with companies believing that targeting luxury travellers and families with this style of marketing is most effective. According to ContentPlus 69.5% of travel companies prioritise families as their main target audience, while content marketing efforts are twice as likely to target luxury travellers than budget travellers. Many of the travel marketing giants have recognised this trend, with the likes of Virgin Holidays providing a wealth of travel-writing style articles through their blog and creatively using Instagram and Pinterest feeds integrated into their website to provide an all-round richer experience for their luxury clientele.

Going social?

People like to share, especially when it comes to holiday photos. So what better way to capture the imagination of holiday-makers than to make your travel marketing social? Travellers are increasingly relying on social media sites to ask for others opinions when booking a holiday, with the growth of independent travel review sites such as TripAdvisor further fuelling this cycle of user generated content. It is estimated that by 2016 social media will be in the forefront as a primary way to generate travel bookings and revenue for half of the travel industry, with travel marketing campaigns now exploring new ways to reach out to social media users. South African Tourism recently ran a successful social media campaign through its #MeetSouthAfrica hashtag, in which the company invited fifteen international travel bloggers to explore the provinces of South Africa and was able to generate over 77 million tweet impressions and post over 1000 user-generated photos on Instagram from this approach.

Travel marketing has proven that flexibility and adaptation to the needs of the digital market can prove to be a worthwhile exercise which has the ability to attract and retain strong customer bases. Through multiple platforms, content and social media, anyone can now transport themselves to just about anywhere in the world. Where will you choose?

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