What Makes a Successful Travel Website in 2017? .

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Know your niche.

Travel brands have to recognise that holidays have been commoditised and consumers are overwhelmed with choice. For a travel brand to be successful it needs to add value to the product or service for the consumer - so being clear about your proposition and understanding your audience is essential. Trying to be all things to all people isn’t good enough anymore.

Sell – not just promote

Travel brands (and by that I probably mean tour operators) need to stop just competing on price as this will only lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ on price. By being a specialist you can sell and add value. A travel agent used to be the high-street generalist and they would help you refine your choice. In that agents, you would have a specialist who knew the country, the resort, maybe had even stayed in the hotel you were looking at. So now Google is a consumer’s travel agent. It’s the generalist and if you are not careful you could be trying to sell to someone who is ‘lost’. Fortunately, most consumers know even if they typed ‘skiing holiday’ in to Google they’d still get too broad a result so they would probably use a more refined search phrase before exploring Google’s ‘suggestions’. A successful brand ‘sells’ to the consumer who knows what they want and has a strategy to increase that desire.

Focus your marketing

So brands need to focus on their best converting audiences and choose where they spend their marketing budget wisely. Most brands have sales funnels that are propped up with considerable funds spent on Google Adwords campaigns. We work with brands to try and move away from this strategy and create highly targeted digital strategies that target segments of their customers based on their specific interest or where they are in the buying journey.

Retarget - Get more from what you’ve got

Too many brands spend too much money trying to fill the top of their sales funnel by driving lots of new traffic to their website. This is fine if you are new to the market but quite often bands already have an abundance of relevant traffic on their site that leaves ‘empty handed’. Typically, we see conversion rates of less than 1% and quite frankly this is most brand’s biggest opportunity for improvement. By re-advertising to people who have been to your website before (or retargeting as it is commonly known) you can push them further down the conversion funnel and drive down cost per acquisition and improve retention. Even the cost of broad terms on Google Adwords can be reduced by targeting only this audience.

Reduce the friction

The best online experiences are the ones that are a joy to use - booking a holiday is meant to be enjoyable! The whole digital experience has to be as friction-free as possible with advertising, website, social and email experiences providing a joined-up customer journey. From a customers perspective each of these channels are still an interaction with the same brands so they cannot be treated as silos. When a user engages with all your digital channels you should be using the huge amount of explicit and implicit data that is being captured to personalise their experience by treating them differently. In particular brands need to treat their existing and previous customers with the respect they deserve – nobody likes to be sent an offer for something they have recently bought but it happens all the time.

Talk their language

If you truly understand your audience this should come easily. Brands aimed at 18-24 year olds versus the over 50s have to adapt accordingly. Not only do they need to be using the digital (and offline) channels that their target audience uses e.g. Instagram (this is where the kids hang out) versus Facebook (this is where mum and dad are) but they also have to  talk to them in a tone of voice that shows empathy and connects with them. Don’t sell or preach, engage them in a two-way conversation, ask their opinions and show you care.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can develop and deliver a class leading website for your brand, please get in touch.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Executive Director
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

04 Apr 2017 - 6 minute read
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