Customer Profiling in Travel to drive Intelligent Digital Marketing.



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:



Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
With over 25 years in marketing, Paul is one of the UK's leading experts on digital marketing. He oversees the agency and often lectures and consults within the industry on digital and marketing related subjects and has a particular interest and skills in the travel and tourism sectors.

Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.
Paul Stephen

Paul Stephen

24 Feb 2014 - 7 minute read
share this

stay in the know, stay ahead.

Get the latest from the agency, including news, events and expert content.
find out what we can do for you
read some of our case studies