Though quarantine measures are slowly easing and vaccine rollout is in the pipeline, companies in the travel sector continue to find themselves grappling with uncertainty. With the industry among the most hard-hit, a thoughtful strategy is much needed to get travel companies back on their feet. Failing to adjust to changing preferences and attitudes will greatly undermine travel businesses’ chances of success in the ‘new normal.’
Support from marketing services providers and marketing agencies is crucial for dealing with a rapidly changing landscape. That is what makes the difference between surviving and thriving. But how can businesses spot a great marketing partner that is at the top of their game? To respond to this question, we assessed industry insight from travel organisations and drew out the essential
services marketers should be offering to guide companies in the new normal.
Understanding new customer segments is the first step for strategic planning. The impact of the pandemic is highly likely to inform travel choices for some time to come. Spending more time at home has given many of us a renewed appreciation for the outdoors, while long periods of isolation have created a nostalgia for childhood haunts and family trips. However, it is a mistake to rely on assumptions; businesses must gain a concrete idea of which holiday trends are here to stay in the medium and long-term.
By frequently assessing how purchasing behaviour is evolving, businesses can: strengthen customer retention; re-attract lapsed customers; and add valuable new clients to the customer base. It has never been so critical to find a marketing partner that will identify customer segments, and help you respond rapidly and flexibly to customer trends. Previous award-winning campaigns are a good measure of a marketer’s approach to data analysis and insight-based strategy.
With customers increasingly booking trips online, it is all too easy to focus marketing efforts on digital channels. Even prior to the pandemic many organisations were failing to spot and link their customers’ online and offline profiles and behaviours. Yet, with consumers increasing their engagement with mail during the pandemic, a visual reminder of a dream getaway may be the key to driving online traffic.
Marketing partners should therefore refrain from any bias, providing a media-neutral service that spans multiple channels. This will produce an optimal combination of digital and physical marketing, ensuring your business is not missing out on any valuable opportunities. To ensure this is accompanied by an optimal cost, a partner with industrial capacity may be able to integrate small mail volumes into their production, and therefore offer mass mail prices. However, this should come with a boutique service so that mailings can be tailored and triggered by specific behaviours.
Risk sharing remains the best test of a partner’s confidence in their service. You know you can trust a partner’s commitment to delivering optimal results, if they are willing to put some of their own commercial interests at stake. Of course, partners offering this service will benefit from this two-way relationship by being rewarded for over-performance. Various commentators publish campaign performance benchmarks with an industry breakdown, such as email click-through rates for the travel and hospitality industries. These can be used as a basis to negotiate a bonus.
A further factor to look out for is a partners’ ability to offer a proper de-risking methodology for the transition from a previous supplier, a process which is often fraught with obstacles. A sound marketing partner should be prepared to ease this transition. An external endorsement from one of their previous clients might be a good starting point to determine the effectiveness of their methodology.
An ideal partner should clearly commit to delivering continuous performance improvement and innovation. If they have early access to the latest technologies, this gives both you and your partner a competitive advantage. While attention to cost reduction and budget optimisation are understandable, especially in the current climate, a high-performing marketing partner should not
compromise on quality, as poor targeting and segmentation risk taking a toll on future revenues. A savvy partner will be aware of the pitfalls of prioritising quick wins over long-term customer relationships, and this should be clear in their track record. Their prior campaigns should demonstrate an ongoing awareness of behaviours among high-loyalty, high-value travellers – the priority segment for any business – as well as an ability to home in on the latest tourism trends and opportunities.
Go Inspire Insight’s full report - Figure of Eight – A partner for the new normal - is available to download here.