Premanjali Gupta, head of marketing for Asia-Pacific at Blis, a mobile location technology company, shares how to use real-world intelligence to best engage and persuade travellers on their purchase journey.
Today’s travellers are increasingly looking for personalised and meaningful experiences when travelling. To them, the use of personal data by hotels and service providers to deliver an experience that’s specifically tailored to them can either make or break the trip.
Blis’ recent #RealRetail series revealed that the majority of travellers worldwide prefer to book their travel online. 89 per cent of Australians and 92 per cent of Singaporeans would rather browse a website – on any screen – than go to a travel agency to plan their next vacation.
Therefore, to fully capture the travellers’ market, especially with the upcoming seasonal holidays, businesses should use a combination of first-party data and real-world intelligence, to provide targeted services and offerings to suit the travel patterns and needs of the travellers, improving their brand recall when travellers are deciding where to go in future.
The latest research from Blis in partnership with WBR, Real-World Intelligence: Mapping human behaviour to effective mobile marketing, highlights additional trends in travellers’ behaviour that marketers can learn from. According to our survey of 150 senior marketers in Asia-Pacific, the purchase journey for travellers can be broken down into five phases, each of which is an opportunity for marketers:
1) Being inspired to go and travel
2) Searching for providers (airlines, hotels, tour companies, etc.)
3) Booking the trip
4) The actual travelling phase
5) Reviewing and sharing the trip upon return
According to our research, travel marketers believe that the inspiration and booking phases are the two most important opportunities for location-based marketing to deliver personalised adverts and messaging to travellers. The numbers break down like this:
While it’s logical to invest the most in marketing while prospective travellers are online ideating, researching and booking, there are opportunities at the later stages of the journey.
Travel time marketing
Marketers can leverage real-world intelligence to discover what kind of experiences vacationers will enjoy, what they’re willing to pay for their travel, and where they want to go for their next excursion.
Many travel companies in the region have access to troves of first-party customer data via reservations, loyalty clubs and other sources. All of this can be combined with real-time and historic customer data to make appealing offers, both while the traveller is onsite and after their trip.
For example, if a hotel club member is staying at your facility, and you know from their files that they travel frequently for business, an offer for a discounted massage or high-end car service might be appreciated. A family that frequently stays with your franchise might respond well to offers for packages to kid-friendly attractions in the area.
When asked if they have delivered location data-enhanced dynamic digital creative to target travellers, one marketer responded: “We have digitally mapped geo-locations and activity hotspots across the country and use these locations to run our campaigns and send promotions on a frequent basis.”
Since many airports now offer free Wi-Fi, there are also opportunities to reach weary travellers as they land. Letting them know there are nearby coffee joints, car services or rentals, and other amenities will simultaneously make their lives easier and boost your business results.
Even when the trip is over, there are additional opportunities to attract new prospects and to win the loyalty of just-landed travellers. Using a combination of first-party data and real-world intelligence, marketers can gain a lot of insight into what people did on their trip, and what their past travel habits have been. Using this information, personalised messages and offers can be sent to recent visitors that make them feel valued – and inspire them to travel again.
A hotel could thank a traveller by very simply offering a complimentary night or meal on their next stay. Restaurant chains in the region might consider the same tactic. But consider how these offers could be personalised further: If the traveller enjoyed a favourite drink or activity, like beach yoga, while staying at your property, why not make a personalised offer or thank you note based on that activity? If their travel history shows that they’re more adventurous, invite them to properties that feature kayaking, rock climbing or another activity they might enjoy. If they enjoy shopping, show them photos and information about sale seasons in destinations known for great shopping. These personalised touches are sure to win their loyalty and repeat business.
For brick-and-mortar travel services
Travel agencies are struggling these days, but there’s still a market for in-person bookings, particularly for tours and more elaborate family vacations. The small percentage of travellers in Asia-Pacific who prefer to meet with a human to book their trip still constitutes a market worth fighting for.
Our recommendation is to use location data to send targeted ads to prospects as they are approaching a nearby competitor. This is a classic retail strategy, and it is successful at increasing footfall. As a potential traveller walks in the direction of the nearest Thomas Cook, make sure they see an offer for your agency first – and make sure it’s one that will get them in your door instead of theirs.
The travellers’ purchase journey offers many opportunities for marketers to reach and engage these desirable consumers. Using a powerful combination of real-time location data and real-world intelligence – along with their own first-party data – travel marketers can win new business and loyalty from travellers at any stage.