Reaching Today's Digital Traveler


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As a travel and hospitality brand with a passion for serving your customers, we know you won’t settle for mediocre digital marketing. We understand that acquiring subscribers, delivering timely, personalized offers to on-the- go travelers, and building customer loyalty are at the top of your list.

Published in: Travel, Business, Technology

Reaching Today's Digital Traveler

  1. 1. 2As a travel and hospitality brand with a passion for serving your customers,we know you won’t settle for mediocre digital marketing. We understandthat acquiring subscribers, delivering timely, personalized offers to on-the-go travelers, and building customer loyalty are at the top of your list.The chart on the right shows the assortment of channels and technologythat digital travelers use, showing their penchant for staying connectedand interest in various platforms.Travel brands must create a seamless information-gathering and bookingexperience for their customers, or they run the risk of missing that narrowwindow of time when travelers are most ready to convert their tentativetravel plans into a purchase.In this guide to reaching today’s digital traveler, we’ve compiled fivepowerful tips to optimize your digital marketing efforts and connect withyour customers where they spend the most time online. These five tips canhelp fuel your customer lifecycle, automate your operations, and improveyour ROI—whether your customers are angling for the best prices on aweekend in Tahiti or the most inclusive hotel packages for visiting clients.Accessed the Internet Through the Mobile PhoneUploaded Pictures of a Holiday on Your Social NetworkUpdated Your Social Network Status to Keep Friends and Family UpdatedUsed a Mobile App to Find Attractions or ActivitiesDownloaded Mobile Apps Specific to a Certain Destination51%39%34%33%26%Technology Used While Traveling Accordingto Internet Users Worldwide / Jan 2013Source: TripAdvisor, “Trip Barometer” conducted by StrategyOne, March 6, 2013
  2. 2. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER 3Grow Your Subscriber Lists 1Looking to engage with consumers,create social buzz around your promotions, and attract repeat customers?Of course you are! But you may need to broaden your reach by acquiringmore subscribers who have a keen interest in your travel brand’s offerings.To determine why your brand might be missing out on starting aconversation with interested and ready-to-purchase travelers, ask yourselfthese questions:• Do you promote digital engagement on your website with high-visibility email opt-ins, social sharing buttons, and real-timepromotions and updates?• Are you asking for travelers’ email addresses at the point ofsale?• How easy is it to find your email opt-in form on your website,and how quickly can an interested traveler complete it?• Do you include an email opt-in form with every first purchase?(You should.)HOW TO GROW YOUR SUBSCRIBER LISTSIf acquiring more subscribers is a priority for your business, the best placeto start is by analyzing where your consumers are already engaging withyour brand. For example, perhaps your travel agency’s website gets themost traffic on the webpages that feature family-friendly vacations. Besure you have an easy-to-fill out email subscription form on that page—and let people know that they can expect to receive family-oriented emailcommunications from you.Then, determine how to best enhance that customer’s experience anddrive interactive engagement from there.Here are a few tactics you can add to your subscriber acquisition plan tofuel opt-ins and list growth for your brand:• Tell Them Why. Make sure your customers know why theyshould give you their information. Are you going to providethem with budget travel tips? A weekly photo newsletter ofpicturesque travel destinations? Tell them, and follow throughwith that promise.• Ask for the Opt-In. Include an email opt-in form as a tab onyour Facebook page.• Benefit from Wait Times. Promote your email opt-in and SMSmessaging programs wherever customers are waiting (forexample, at the baggage check if you’re an airline, or check-inif you’re a hotel). Make sure it’s easy to sign up for these listsvia a mobile phone.• Go Digital with Receipts. If you have a brick-and-mortar store(like a travel agency office or a cruise ship gift shop), offer tosend in-store receipts to consumers via email.• Utilize Physical Receipts. Not quite ready for digital receipts?Then focus on including a digital call-to-action on your in-storereceipts to encourage travelers to become digital subscribers.THE BOTTOM LINEPotential travelers are already interested in the promotions, packages, andservices that your company offers. Make it easy for them to subscribe toyour communications, and promote your email list to potential customersas the top place for valuable promotions and news from your brand.
  3. 3. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER4Preferred channel for Travel Alerts OVERALL 15-17 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65 PlusEmail 43% 40 43 42 44 40 47 40Text messaging (SMS) on a cell phone 25% 25 34 26 31 26 14 8Telephone 18% 10 11 20 10 17 27 42Direct mail (letters, catalogs, postcards, etc.) 3% 7 3 2 4 3 2 2Facebook 3% 6 5 6 2 4 0 0Mobile App 2% 4 0 3 4 0 1 0Twitter 1% 0 2 0 1 1 0 0LinkedIn 0% 0 0 0 1 0 0 0Source: 2012 Channel Preferences Survey, February 2012 • N = 1,481 US Online Consumers, age 15 and older all the message types surveyed in our 2012 Channel Preference Report, travel alerts are wherecompanies should offer consumers the greatest variety of opt-in options. With consumer preferencedistributed across email, telephone, and SMS, brands that offer all three options will stand the greatestchance of pleasing their customers.Brands tackling alert communications may also see an interesting phenomenon develop: consumerswho request alerts through multiple channels. Why the duplication? Consumers may not know whichchannel will have their attention at the moment an alert posts. As a result, they do something rare intoday’s environment—invite companies to over-communicate. If you find your brand in that situation,resist the temptation to expand the content beyond the alert the consumer has requested—at least notwithout obtaining express permission beforehand.
  4. 4. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER 5Deliver Relevant and Timely Messages 2By nature, travelers are on-the-go types,so relevancy and timeliness is key when it comes to delivering theirmessages. Some customers travel several times a month, while othersmay plan one large-scale excursion every few years, so it’s crucial tointeract with them on the right channel at the right time. Provide yoursubscribers with valuable information in a timeframe that is consistent andkeeps you top-of-mind, but is never overwhelming.To avoid overwhelming or irritating your subscribers, ask yourself thesequestions:• Do you generally see a substantial number of unsubscribesafter you send a message to your subscribers?• Has your deliverability rate been falling?• Are your social media messages (i.e., tweets and Facebookstatus updates) being heard? When you ask an open-endedquestion, do fans and followers reply?HOW TO IMPROVE MESSAGE RELEVANCY AND TIMELINESSThere’s a simple difference between sending targeted promotionalmessages and “batch and blast” emails: one is relevant and the otherisn’t. Be sure you are relevant with these tactical tips — this will help youkeep your messaging on track.• Email Design is Crucial. Evaluate your email design to makesure it’s appealing and user-friendly. Ensure your primarymessage and call to action are easily recognizable withinthe email, and use relevant lifestyle and product imagery tosupport your message.• Great Content Wins. Use your messaging to provide suchhelpful content to your customers that they’d never considerunsubscribing. Whatever your niche, let your customers knowthat you have your finger on the pulse of travel, and they will,too ­— if they book with your brand.• Test to Determine Right Frequency. As all travel brandsknow, it’s vital to be the company with the best prices andthe most attractive options at the precise moment when acustomer is debating a purchase. Sending frequent messagesis acceptable if you have something meaningful to say. Workfirst on driving relevancy with each message, then test todetermine a send schedule that balances the goals you’retrying to achieve with the value of each message.• Alternative Conversion Options. Some travel and hospitalitypurchases have especially lengthy buying cycles (like ahoneymoon or other higher-cost vacation). Offer customersalternative conversion options such as “last chance to book”alerts, price change alerts, or free flight/room upgrade alerts tokeep them engaged.THE BOTTOM LINEDetermine how to make your communications relevant, and then startto integrate data to further refine your messaging. Remember, you don’thave to tackle all three at once. Just because you know that someoneis interested in booking a cruise for a family of ten doesn’t mean they’reready to commit today, so keep your communication valuable and steadyif you want to be the brand they choose.
  5. 5. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER6Cross-channel marketing helps you reachan individual at the perfect time, which is imperative to booking a week-long vacation or last-minute business trip.Be better than just relevant—be personal. Consider these questions andhow they relate to your personalized customer interactions:• Does your social media manager have regular, personalinteractions with your social media fans and followers?• Does each person who asks a question on social media or viaemail receive a personalized reply? (What about those whohave a complaint, like a delayed flight or a cruise canceled dueto weather?)• Are you constantly collecting new data about your customers?HOW TO GET PERSONAL WITH INTERACTIONSCapture as much personal information as you can about each person whoengages with your brand. Store that data in a centralized hub so that allof your communication is perfectly suited to the traveler’s future plans.Personalize Your Interactions25% of people unsubscribe frompermission based emails because thecontent hasnt been relevant tothem from the start.*3Modern marketing software allows you to get personal, so take advantageof it with these strategies for increased personalization.• Preference Center Support. In your welcome email, link to apreference center where you can invite customers to tell youabout their interests.• Use Simple Data First. Use simple data points like purchasehistory, home base, and desired travel destinations to deliverpersonalized content for your customers and an improvedexperience.• Target With Relevant Content. Consider a traveler who’sbeen researching flights from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Thetraveler receives an email from one airline with a subject lineadvertising a limited-time discount on tickets from Los Angelesto Hong Kong. He also receives an email from another airlinethat merely promotes special rates on all flights. Which emaildo you think is more likely to be opened?• Focus on the Second Layer of Data. Drill down into yourdata points even further. Does this customer normally visit yourresort’s special discounts page, or do they usually flip throughthe romantic getaways page? This data can help you decidewhether you should promote your discount codes or couples’spa amenities to them.THE BOTTOM LINEEvery piece of data you collect creates a more customer-centric message andmakes content extremely compelling. Digital travelers are being bombardedwith marketing, retargeting, and cross-channel campaigns, so get noticed asthe travel brand who remembers and respects their personal preferences.*ExactTargets SUBSCRIBERS, FANS, & FOLLOWERS: The Social Break Up
  6. 6. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER 7Automate the Travel Customer Lifecycle 4Reaching the digital traveler-a person who’s already multitasking and on-the-go—takes thought andtime. In the marketing world today, both are limited resources. You simplycan’t afford to think about where each individual stands in the sales funnel.At the opposite end of the spectrum, imagine bringing effective messagingto travelers at every stage in the customer lifecycle and supporting themalong the way.Are you taking advantage of these opportunities to keep in touch with yourtravelers? Ask yourself:• Do travelers receive automated communications according totheir travel preferences at every stage of their buying cycle?• Wouldaprospectivecustomerreceiveanyretargetedmessagesfrom you about the hotel packages or travel destinations theywere browsing, or would your brand fall off their radar screenwhen they leave your site?• Do you have a shopping cart abandonment strategy? (Follow-up question: Is this strategy effective?)HOW TO SIMPLIFY AND AUTOMATE YOUR DIGITAL MARKETINGIt’s possible for you to reach your customers effectively while savingtime and resources by automating your personalized communicationsto each customer. Welcome emails, booking confirmations, cartabandonment programs, pre- and post-travel notifications, and cross-sell/upsell opportunities can each be automated to your customers uniqueengagements with your company.For example, you can provide a relevant packing list prior to a customer’strip or a weather forecast of their destination—without even thinking about it.Spend less time planning and more time optimizing your automation strategywith these easy-to-implement automation plans.• Automate Special Offers. Automate promotions by sendinganniversary coupons to your subscribers or promoting seasonalspecials.• Send Travel Confirmations Automatically. Send text andemail confirmations to acknowledge booking reservations, tripupdates, or cancelations.• Add Your Upsells. Keep your customers aware of any trip-related offers like upsells or cross-sells through live offers thatend with the promotions expiration (or when inventory runsout).• Send Reminders About Incomplete Purchases. Encouragevisitors to complete their purchases for sightseeing attractionsor car rentals through automated cart-abandonment programsdriven by your web analytics data.• Create Automatic Loyalty Program Notices. Keep intouch and build stronger relationships with your customersby automating email or SMS notices that inform them of theirloyalty program point accruals.THE BOTTOM LINEInteract with your customers at every stage in the purchase lifecycle byautomating your digital marketing processes. Frequent travelers and dreamvacation planners alike need to be nurtured along the road to an eventualbooking, so take the micro-level thought out of your communication plansand automate your way to better conversions and more engaged digitaltravelers.
  7. 7. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER8Increase Customer Loyalty5Frequent fliers are a buzzwordin the travel industry—with good reason. Travel customers are one of thebest audiences to retain as loyal customers! Thats because they’re highlylikely to re-book with your brand if they loved you the first time, thanks tothe larger investment of a car rental or hotel booking versus a smaller-ticket item.Evaluate your current customer loyalty status with these questions:• Are you currently rewarding return customers with airline points,free hotel stays, or another perk relevant to your industry?• If so, are you giving away these perks often? (If not, it’s anindicator that your customer loyalty is declining.)• Do social media comments often start with, “I’m a longtime fan/customer of [your brand name here]…”?HOW TO TAP INTO CUSTOMER LOYALTYWith travel customers, building loyalty is an especially useful tactic toincrease word-of-mouth sales. After all, who goes on an exciting trip anddoesn’t tell anyone about it? Nobody.Make sure you receive and reward digital traveler loyalty. Here are a fewapproaches:• Be Quick to Communicate. Pay attention to everyone whointeracts with your brand on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, andother social platforms. Reply to them, acknowledge them (by“favoriting” their tweets, “liking” their posts, and so on), andalways thank them for their business.• Get Data Involved. Assess customer loyalty and interactionswith your brand via a real-time reporting tool, such asExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub®. Use this data todecide whether you need to make your loyalty program a biggerpart of your messaging or if you’re on the right track.• Have Friendly Offers Ready. Use your staff and brand tocreate friendly customer service experiences in-store or online.Translate that value through welcome emails, discounted cross-sell offers, or social media outlets.• Stay Prominent on Every Channel. The more visible youare to your customer, the more loyal they’ll be. Engage withdigital travelers by providing a Facebook coupon, loyalty rewardpoint updates via SMS, and keep a relevant, steady stream ofcontent in their inboxes.• Become a Trusted Resource. Use social media to commenton popular travel and hospitality topics that your customersare talking about, making your brand a content resource they’llreturn to regularly.THE BOTTOM LINEIf a traveler is happy with your brand’s loyalty program and overall customerservice experience, they’ll also be happy to share information with familyand friends about the great time they had using your service while awayfrom home. Incentivize this desire to share with a loyalty program thatsimplifies sharing and saving.
  8. 8. Reaching Todays DIGITAL TRAVELER 9Reaching the Digital Traveler: Success StoryExactTarget works with 200+ travel and hospitality clients to produce the top digital marketing solutions for brands in the industry. Check outa success story from a client who used ExactTarget to sail through common marketing challenges using our streamlined and sophisticatedmarketing software.Celebrity Cruises Automates Interactions with ExactTarget and Adobe SiteCatalystWorking with marketing technology consulting companyAcceleration, Celebrity Cruises identified many ways to refineits customer communications—and drive higher revenue for thecompany at the same time.The booking funnel within allows visitors toput reservations on a 72-hour hold before expiring. Using AdobeSiteCatalyst, they monitored website behavior and saw that manyvisitors who were placing the cruise deals on the 72-hour holdweren’t returning to book the cruise.With the ExactTarget and Adobe SiteCatalyst integration, Celebritynow operates a sophisticated remarketing program to drawvisitors back before their 72-hour hold expires. Celebrity hasseen great success with its acquisition and upsell remarketingprograms, including an 18-20% rise in conversion rate of “on hold”cruises to bookings and a 21% average click-through rate over asix-month period.“After performing a detailed evaluation and receiving stellarreferences, it was a clear decision to utilize the combinationof Acceleration service, ExactTarget, and Adobe SiteCatalysttechnology to provide the best solution for maximizing the return onour digital marketing investment,” says Brian Powell, Associate VicePresident, Direct & Loyalty Marketing at Celebrity Cruises.It was a clear decision to utilizethe combination of Acceleration,ExactTarget, and Adobe SiteCatalystto provide the best solution formaximizing the return on ourdigital marketing investment.
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