We do agree the travel and tourism industry has been saturated with zillion agencies, small, medium or big, all desperately attempting to sell their services to the customers. We also agree that surviving such a rat race is not like feasting on a slice of cake. Yet, modern digital technology and social media have opened myriad possibilities for startups to ride the tide of success breezily. The world has become one big oyster.
Travel agency software services have eliminated human errors and simplified backend tasks greatly. Still, some agencies fail to attract enough buyers and gradually withers away with time.
The question here is why? If your online travel agency is one of the unfortunate ones, then maybe, somewhere your efforts did not pay off. Or, maybe, your prospective customers are unaware of your existence in the market? The possibilities are endless. And, if you think you have failed to attract enough buyers, then maybe it’s time to evaluate your marketing strategies.
7 Easy and effective marketing tips for OTAs
Let’s try a basic Google Search using the most popular keyword – #Travel. The first few sights that show up in the result belong to Yatra.com, Make My Trip, and Expedia. 2018 Statista report shows Expedia has garnered 18.8 million online users, and TripAdvisor has snatched 37.7 million visitors. Where is your travel agency positioned in World ranking? Not in the picture? Maybe it’s time to flip that picture.
Following are a few healthy tips to try –
Already invested in an effective travel agency software? Check. Studied your target audience? Uncheck. So start by –
Defining and understanding your target audience
Google research shows 55% of travelers go for just one or two trips a year, but research a lot before planning their vacation. And, women account for nearly 59% of all travel-related searches, according to Bing Travel Industry Research.
Think with Google explained a typical tourist’s journey before booking a trip, citing the example of Amy. This lady was planning a trip to Disneyland but made 34 searches online, visited 380 web pages and observed 5 videos over a span of just 2 months.
Digitalization has opened millennials to an entire world of information that is exchanged or studied every second and this new generation of travelers are good at researching online. They are online every single minute searching for something or the other, including planning vacations.
Think about the number of opportunities your travel agency gets to influence a customer and get a conversion online. Identifying the target audience and studying their behavior should top your marketing strategy. Creating ads matching prospective buyer’s persona and offering tour packages to give what they are looking for is surely going to pay off.
Connect with your prospective buyers
Customer engagement is the new buzz word. Why ignore it, then? Also, the new age travellers do not get enticed easily by ‘push-strategies’ where they are literally bombarded with irrelevant deals. If they wish to travel, they will turn to the World Wide Web. All you have to do is stay, ready with your offers, visible on their screen as soon as the keyword is typed.
Not to sound too promotional, make sure your message not only reaches them but they strike a perfect chord with their expectations. And, keep a two-way communication channel open to hear their needs like a friend/advisor. After all, the more engaged a customer is, the more loyal he will stay to your brand.
And, to answer the question how can you connect with your customers? The obvious reply to this will be none other than social media platforms. These are places where the younger generation hangs out all through the day and even late at night. Engaging posts on Instagram or other social sites will catch their attention for sure.
In fact, 40% of world travellers choose a location based on how ‘Instagrammable’ the location is.
Reach travelers when it is time
A careful study of your prospective customers will give you a fair idea of the right time to reach out to them.
A simple concept – If your customers don’t know you or cannot find you on the World Wide Web, then how are they supposed to buy from you? It is entirely up to you, depending on whether you have done your homework or not. If you did, then you will know where are they heading to enjoy the cold month of January? Or, when they plan to enjoy a beach holiday?
After all, search demands vary depending on where people are heading to for their summer/winter/spring/fall vacations. And, as a travel agency, you have to stay visible during those peak seasons more.
Do not ignore the power of PPC, SEO and Content
In the era of digitalization, a company cannot survive long without engaging in SEO or PPC campaigns. Digital marketers will understand best how to boost your travel agency online using these two tools and indulging in ineffective content marketing.
Informative, data-rich and engaging content written on trending topics will prove an important source of information for the young travellers. Make them engaging to draw their attention to your products. Make use of videos as well, which according to CISCO, is responsible for generating four-fifths of Global Internet Traffic. And, mobile video traffic will grow 55% per year till 2020, says Ericsson.
The idea is to create a strong online presence for your travel agency.
Create a loyalty program
Reward schemes or loyalty programs are specially designed to encourage buyers to keep shopping using the website associated with such programs. Special discount coupons and free merchandise are shared or new products are introduced to keep the buyers engaged throughout.
Have you ever shopped from Myntra? If yes! Then you will know the loyalty programs this shopping e-commerce site has for its dedicated buyers.
Create something along the same line and see the difference for yourself!
Market travel quotations that will sell
Here, you can take the help of a travel software service such as a quote creator that allows visitors to select their choicest destinations, arrange the itineraries, make conveyance and accommodation bookings online, and then get the price they have to pay against the same bookings. The more attractive the quotations are, the more likely they are to choose your travel agency over others.
Don’t ignore the power of remarketing
It is of utmost importance that your customers are reminded of your presence time and again – something which we refer to as Remarketing. On one hand, buyers detest receiving promotional ads flooding their system. On the other, customers who are aware of you and had a great shopping experience using your agency site will be more receptive to your future messages, promotional or not.
And, guess what! They are highly likely to convert into final sell. According to CMO.com, 70% of website visitors retargeted with display ads are more likely to convert and another report states that retargeted ads increase brand exposure by 1,000%.
Food for thought!
There is no limit to how you can market your online travel agency. But, what if your agency remains invisible to your prospective buyers’ eyes? The whole effort put behind such tricks will simply get flushed down in the gutter, not to mention the amount of money lost in the process.
The mentioned seven strategies are just a couple of chapters but your agency has an entire book to read. Think of out-of-the-box ways to reach your end-users and how you can exploit the digital media, including the social media platforms to your advantage. Keep trying, else all those money spent on marketing and purchasing travel agency software services will present a sorry picture on your balance sheet.