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Travel & Vacation Marketing

Published: August 20 2008

Travel & Vacation Marketing: Your Audience Is Online - We have all read in the papers and magazines, or heard on the radio, or seen on the TV or Internet that tourism traffic and revenue in the local economy is down. The industry here in Canada has been in a state of flux since 2001. If you own a business that works in this industry, you know you need to continue building exposure for your business in order to be front-of-mind to any travelers that might be planning a trip to your area. So, where is the best place for you to spend you hard-earned marketing dollars? Vacationers are looking for your business online, they just need a hand finding it and experiencing what your business has to offer.

Here's something to consider...

More consumers than ever are finding the confidence to research and even book their vacations online. First the facts:

  • Burst Media's survey of some 2,100 web users 18 years and older who plan to travel in the next three months found that nearly half (47.2 percent) of respondents who will use the web to plan their upcoming travel say the Internet will be their primary travel resource.
  • Burst found that two-thirds (66.9 percent) of respondents will conduct travel research as well as make an online travel transaction, and  33.1 percent will use the web solely as an information resource.
  • Of those who will conduct a travel transaction on the web, about three-quarters (74.0 percent) will purchase airline tickets, 72.9 percent will likely make hotel reservations, and over one-third (40.4 percent) will likely rent an automobile.
  • Among survey respondents who use the Internet solely as a research tool, the most popular topics of research are hotel accommodations and prices (50.1 percent), travel destinations (45.8 percent), airline flights and fares (39.2 percent), tour/travel operators (24.4 percent), and car rental availability/rates (12.2 percent).
  • Respondents were asked what features of a travel resource website make them want to return to it: The most cited were the ability to check flights, hotels and rental car's rates/availability (55.1 percent), destination information (49.9 percent), and travel promotions and specials (49.7 percent).

Courtesy of marketingvox.com (2007).

  • Online travel consumers compare airfares at an average of 3.2 Web sites and hotel rates at an average of 3.0 Web sites. Though some industry observers claim consumers are overwhelmed by the experience of searching online, the majority of online travel consumers feel empowered by their online travel research.
  • At 17%, general search engines have surpassed other media channels in driving consumers to a particular Web site when researching their most recent trip.
  • Obtaining frequent flyer points is one of the most important factors motivating online travelers to purchase flights directly through airline Web sites.

Courtesy of jupitermedia.com (2005).

Hotels, rental properties, airlines and airfare, attractions and rental cars are all online as part of every traveler's planning and purchasing experience.  What kind of experience do you want to provide for your online visitors and potential customers? How will your website be found?

Good visual design and brand fulfillment is a key factor to providing a good visitor experience on your website. Don't just say it – show it! Visual design, using graphic elements and images on your website,  is an effective means of communication. When done well, it will reinforce a message or even transcend words completely. Does your travel or vacation business offer relaxation, adventure, excitement or all of the above? Without reading a single word on your website, your visitor should know in an instant what your business is all about. Good brand fulfillment will help your visitor remember their experience with your company's website long-after they have left. Good visual design and brand fulfillment will help extend the lifespan of your website before a redesign is necessary. The look of your website should remain unique and contemporary for a period of approximately 5 years. Knowing that your website will be working for you for 5 years only increases the value of your website, and the return on investment you can expect.

The ability to continually update your website is very important. Many travelers and vacationers research and plan their vacations months in advance. Before committing to including your company in their vacation plans, they may visit your website several times. By continually updating your website, you provide online visitors with new information that may be helpful to them on their vacation thereby adding value delivered to your customers. Content Management Systems (CMS) are excellent tools to integrate into your website. They make updating your website and adding new information easier than ever before. With a CMS integrated into your website you have the power to easily update your website anytime and from anywhere. Adding new information to your website also helps you better market your website through the search engines and increases the exposure of your website.

There are many other website features and online advertising options for you to consider, and many will add value to your business in terms of increasing exposure for your website and providing a more positive branding experience for your visitors, but consider your budget and return on investment as well. Many website designers / developers can create a website for your business that is a foundation for future growth and can include tools that allow you to measure what's working and what's not working well for your online visitors. Once you are comfortable that you have created a positive branding experience for your online customers, and you are seeing the ROI you need for your business, then you should begin to consider additional features and looking at advertising opportunities for your website.

- D