TRAVEL MARKETING UNDER COVID-19: IS THERE ANY POINT?

By DISCOVR Bookings

We speak to travel marketers in the region about their approach during this period of no-travel and whether or not it’s valuable to continue marketing.

Note: These insights are based on data collected on 11 April, 2020. We will be reviewing our data on a weekly basis in order to provide a regular view of trends and patterns in consumer behaviour. Our insights are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals, however it does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.

By now, there’s hardly a single industry that hasn’t suffered from the fallout of COVID-19. But among the worst casualties is the travel industry. Flights have been grounded, borders closed, global movement restricted, and up to 75 million travel and tourism jobs worldwide are at “immediate risk.”

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which also found that Asia-Pacific is expected to be most heavily impacted with up to 49 million jobs at risk throughout the region, representing a loss of nearly $800 billion to travel and tourism GDP.

At least for now, travel, as we once knew it, is no more. But while the outlook looks gloomy for the immediate future, there are some positive signals of longer-term recovery.

“APAC has been ahead of the world in their vigilance, so we expect that APAC will be the first region to recover,” says Max Ueno, VP APAC of Sojern, a provider of data-driven digital travel marketing solutions.

In the event that both inbound and outbound international travel may be hampered in the long-term, Ueno says that APAC will at least be able to fall back on rebuilding a vibrant domestic and intra-regional tourism market.

Readiness for recovery

Our data shows travellers are still searching to book trips from late Q3 2020, which opens opportunity to target customers now for bookings into the future, whilst building your cash flow today.

Year over year percentage % change in flight searches

In these charts we are noticing significant improvements for Australia, and New Zealand across domestic travel, and for the first time in a long time, we are seeing significantly growth from intent driven travellers.

With this in mind, it should be noted that there will still be a shortage of travellers as compared to previous years. And here is where we see sufficient value to advertise.


How Does This Benefit?

We understand that starting a new marketing strategy can be a daunting task and you are likely asking things like, will this achieve results? How much will this cost? Or my favourite, isn’t it creepy to retarget my website users?

First, let’s address the later by understanding that when setting up correctly, you will only be retargeting those that have shown intent. Whether that is an action on your website, search term in Google or read a related post in an online publication. Meaning they’re only getting ads if they’re interested in making a booking, you’re just ensuring they remember who you are.

Retargeting is a quantifiable technique that can be measured. Plus, it’s cost effective. It redirects your current advertising dollars to those who are already interested in booking and ensures that when their booking can be direct, it will be.

Do you wonder why your website is busy with traffic but visitors still book on an OTA? It’s likely because OTAs are convenient and the majority of the time, those “certificate of excellence” banners they give are retargeting your users on their behalf.

To address the other concerns, here are a few key benefits of retargeting:

  • High ROI: Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert.
  • Differentiated Offers: Market targeted offers to interested guests. For example, if a guest specifically visited your spa package page and didn’t purchase it, you can now offer a discount tailored to that package, not the packages they weren’t interested in.
  • No Rate Parity Issues: This is my favourite. Guests will see unique offers that matter to them. Therefore, everyone can’t access special rates. It also allows you to test different rates and discounts to determine whether your pricing is too low or high.

Types of Retargeting

Retargeting is a powerful marketing tool that can increase your direct bookings with limited time and budget by taking advantage of today’s technology and sending customised messages to your potential guests.

Here are four ways you can use retargeting:

1. Website Retargeting

Website retargeting is the most popular retargeting type because it’s so easy to set up and all you need is a website. First, you add the pixel script to your website pages and then anytime someone visits a page, they can potentially be retargeted.

To benefit the most from website retargeting, it’s recommended that you only tag pages relevant to the conversion process. This might include the pages for your booking engine or landing pages for specific offers.

We also always recommend frequency caps as a best practice, so your potential guest doesn’t see your ads more than, say, twice a day. Not only will this avoid annoying your potential customer, but it also lets you accurately measure when and where the highest conversions happen.

2. Email Retargeting

Email is an effective way to follow up with consumers. Through email retargeting, you can persuade prospective guests to click that “Book Now” button.

Email retargeting starts when a guest starts the booking process on your site but doesn’t follow through with the purchase.

This is why we recommend getting an email address as early as possible in the booking process: without it, following up if they abandon the booking is a lot more difficult. If the person is in your email database, you can easily send an email reminding him or her to book the reservation. To entice the purchase, you also might offer a discount or a bonus gift.

“Email retargeting depends on successfully identifying the steps a subscriber needs to take to become a customer, and creating personalised content for each one of these,” writes Daniel Hristov, CEO of Aurasel.

By customising messages, you can deliver value and receive higher conversion rates from your email list, plus it’s cheap, almost free. If you’re stumped with the process, Discovr Bookings specialises in helping hoteliers and tour operators with all retargeting campaign types.

3. Contextual Retargeting

Contextual retargeting offers companies with similar customers the ability to swap audiences and retarget each other’s website customers.

For example, if a user is booking flight tickets on an airline website, you can then target their customers to book at your hotel or tour company and vice versa, people who made a booking with you can see ads from the airline.

This works well because contextual retargeting is based on real-time intent data. Since the brands offer different services to similar audiences, it’s a win-win situation without the high cost of advertising.

Contextual campaigns can be manually setup with other website owners but that is time-consuming. Discovr Bookings has multiple contextual ad partners, called our Private Marketplace and uses Artificial Intelligence to real-time-bid on individual users that are considered to be a valuable conversion for your business.

Some examples of the retargeting data we receive are the purchases of concert tickets, meta-site searches, airline tickets, car rental bookings and cruise ship wi-fi users. Each serves a particular role and helps increase our client’s conversion rates many times over traditional self-service platforms like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

4. Social Retargeting

Social retargeting lets you display ads to people who left your site and decided to browse social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter.

About 54 percent of marketers believe that “social retargeting was a better use of resources than mobile, search or even email retargeting.” In addition, it leads to more than double the conversions!

To use these campaigns, you’ll first want to ensure that you already have a strong brand on social media. The more established your social media profiles are, the more effective your social retargeting ads will be.

If someone sees your ad on Instagram, they might go check out your profile. You don’t want them to see that your last post was a year ago! However, get it right and Social retargeting is great for improving brand exposure as well as sales.

Get more direct bookings

If you’re ready to re-engage your website users and increase your ROI, retargeting is the best fit for your marketing strategy.

The opportunity exists for you to increase bookings without sacrificing the budget and better yet, avoid spending your profits on OTA commissions.

And if you’re ready to get going but limited for time or don’t know where to start, let us know. Our live chat team is more than happy to help you 24/7 with any questions. We set up, automate and manage 25,000 + retarget campaigns each month for our 5,000 + clients, so you’ll be in good hands.

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