The search for the perfect holiday has moved firmly online, with nearly 150 million travel bookings made via the Internet every year, accounting for 57% of all holiday reservations. But choosing a getaway is a big deal. This is a big, luxury purchase. It has to be just right.
Today’s customer expects to be able to plan and book a holiday with just a few simple steps on a smartphone, with 52% expecting to use more travel apps in 2017. The experience culture is prominent, with 58% planning to prioritise spending on experiences rather than products while they are on holiday.
According to Booking.com, “Travellers are also becoming less interested in fancy embellishments and more interested in the small moments and simple pleasures of a journey.”
One tool that is showing its worth in customer engagement and retention is rich content, a broad media description including video, interactive tours, 360 view, Q&As, comparison charts, blogs and user-generated content.
A recent study by Australian travel agency Webjet directly measured the purchase funnel improvement from shopping cart to purchase when rich content was used. The study consisted of a simple conversion test in which 50% of the international economy flight shoppers were shown rich content and the other half were not. The customers who interacted with the rich content returned a “statistically significant” 26.3% conversion increase over those who did not interact.
Alongside this increase in sales conversion rates, using rich content offers many benefits:
A high interaction rate
Functions such as video mean potential customers can engage with adverts, increasing brand awareness through social media sharing.
More 'calls to action'
Rich media adverts make it possible to link to social media outlets, contact form and landing page, instead of being limited to one link.
The larger space offered by rich media means more room to offer calls to action, display images and engage potential customers.
Video engages people
Online video consumption has skyrocketed, and video advertising is a great way to connect, communicate information and give a strong brand message, engaging the customer and improving customer experience and confidence.
Rich media offers great campaign tracking opportunities. For example, it’s easy to see how many people have watched or shared a video.
So how does rich content apply to travel marketing, and how will it build bookings?
Reviews are a vital trust-building tool. User generated content engages potential customers, offering insights and on-the-ground information. One study found that 46% of travellers felt reviews were the most important source for choosing hotels or accommodation, with 86% saying they found reviews believable.
Asking customers for a review also gives a perfect opportunity to interact. And you never know: Whilst they are re-living their holiday your customer might be inspired to book another stay or recommend you to a friend. If the customer wasn’t completely satisfied this gives the chance to alter their experience and win them back.
Personalise rich media using segmentation
A 2015 study from TripBarometer showed that online photos and videos influenced 79% of people looking to book a hotel. Alongside the increased consumer demand for a customised experience, this shows a trend for one-to-one marketing, meaning the travel industry needs to curate content to engage with specific personas. When leads who are presented with personalised content produce a 20% increase in sales, the power of personalisation is hard to ignore.
Help travellers with their research process
Travel sites, by the nature of the product, involve a longer research process than other retailers, so it’s important to provide customers with as much information as possible in order that they don’t need to shop around. Display information such as destination guides clearly, and offer inspiration in the form of interactive media, virtual reality, 360 views and user-generated content.
Sell the experience
While searches for hotels and destinations can yield generic photos of sterile rooms and empty pools, there are over 56 million #vacation posts on Instagram: compelling content that travel brands are keen to recreate. Customers shop in an increasingly visual manner, looking to their friends’ social media posts for inspiration. Stock, clinical images no longer offer enough context to engage people.
One brand that has understood the potential of sharing customer experience is hotel group Hyatt. Its social image page demonstrates how a brand can embrace consumer-generated images to create authentic customer-centric digital experiences, allowing guests to share images with experiential filters such as beaches, family friendly and golf. Customer engagement is increased, and travellers can seek inspiration whether or not they have a particular hotel or destination in mind.
Provide relevant content
The first stage for the holiday shopper is, ‘I want to get away’. At this point in the booking journey, 82% of travellers have no idea which accommodation to book and around 30% haven’t even decided where to go. Google also found that two thirds of travellers are more likely to book through a website that provides content about their destination.
Providing quality content on local attractions and the authentic experiences of other travellers will build trust in your brand and increase hotel and travel bookings.
**Rezcomm has extensive experience in facilitating ecommerce results for our travel partners. If you would like to talk to us about how our CRM systems or integrated travel and parking solutions can help drive sales, or would like more advice on rich content or any other aspect of your marketing, please do get in touch. **
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