Published: 24 March 2014

Unless your audience is a micro demographic so narrow they all come from one region of one country and make one kind of trip, you need to categorise your customers into different groups and develop personas for each group. This is not just a case of understanding what media sources they use or where they travel to and how. It needs to include a complete picture of their buying behaviour. What devices do they use for what purpose, what OS is predominantly used as a result and what cultural specifics drive their buying behaviour in their usual environment. This seems a lot to consider, but when you take a specific example such as the use of Android v IOS across the globe you see why it’s so important. In the UK 66% of users are on IOS. Conversely in Italy 66% are on Android* . Clearly a need to tailor UX accordingly!

Use Data on your existing customers to tailor new business
This is the logical place to start for any travel business building personas for the first time. If you are using a good quality CRM system this should be fairly straightforward to do as the amount of segmented information on customers should be considerable. Analyse where your business in the last year has come from. Look at who has bought your travel products and categorise them in detail. Invariably they will fall into two or three key groups. For example a hotel group or tour company may have a high percentage of US travellers buying rooms or tours respectively. They may also find that the UK based customers are consistently from  a notably different age group from the US travellers. One group may purchase almost entirely via the web, the other group over the phone. All this data needs to be fed into your profiles.

If In Doubt Ask
Once you have gathered all the information you can from your CRM system, if you are left with key gaps…ask! The amount of time brands spend second guessing their customers is astounding, often in situations where they could just create a quick simple survey and ask the question. Consumer surveys can be as brief as a couple of questions and indeed should demand little effort of the customer. By requesting survey responses in a well timed manner –for example on immediate return from a trip or just after the completion of a purchase, you are more likely to gain valuable insights from your customers.

Message Appropriately
Messaging is a potential minefield and the area where cultural differences become most relevant. Understanding where in your marketing cycle each group of your existing customers has engaged with your brand and what messaging has driven them to purchase is key. Understanding which features and content have proved particularly relevant previously allows the right messaging to be created going forward.

The personas created for the UK will be a lot different to the personas that will be needed for Germany, China or even the USA. Messaging has to take into account the language, lifestyle and behavioural patterns of the country of interest. If your brand is entering a new territory potentially with a number of local competitors already there with an innate understanding of their audience you have one chance to get it right on an even footing.

According to current research by JP Morgan** only 27% of global online purchasers speak English. So 73% don’t! It is well documented that consumers are far more likely to buy a product that is sold in their local language.  So if you calculate that a large percentage of your travellers come from non English-speaking zones, you need to address this.

On a literal level – if you are translating marketing messages, please make sure you use mother tongue translators to interpret rather than directly translate the messaging. The anecdote still circulates of Pepsi realising that translated literally, the slogan ‘Come alive with the Pepsi generation’ translates as ‘Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead’ in Chinese. Whether this is 100% accurate or not, there are plenty of similar examples and they serve as salutary reminders of the need for localised messaging. An excellent book on understanding web users’ behaviour better across the globe is ‘Webs Of Influence’ by Nathalie Nahai

Travel brands need to understand customer profiling even better than many other types of brand – especially if they operate globally. Great CRM data is an excellent start.

Intelligent Digital Marketing for Travel companies: Focus on the customer
Sagittarius is
holding the first of a series of events on the 26th March 2014 designed to help increase conversions and customer engagement through intelligent digital marketing. This event is aimed at anyone with the remit of improving results from digital marketing within Travel. The aim is for delegates to leave the event with a greater understanding of how to maximise the benefits of a cohesive digital marketing strategy for your business. The event will also address some of the top challenges travel marketers face in the current climate and look at ways to overcome them.

If you would like to attend this event, please register your details here:  


Sagittarius Marketing are experts in providing digital marketing solutions to global brands. If you would like to talk to us about your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to call us on: 01233 467 800 or email:




Paul Stephen

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