2020 was a challenging year for the travel and tourism industry. With countries in lockdown, flights grounded worldwide, and 120 million jobs at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, airport marketers knew they’d have a big job on their hands once the skies reopened.
Pre-pandemic, the tourism industry was incredibly competitive, and in 2021, this remains true. You could say that it’s more competitive than ever before, with airports, booking sites and online travel agencies alike keen to capitalise on consumers’ great desire to travel. With this in mind, airport marketers must find ways to differentiate their campaigns and make them stand out from the rest. And we’d argue one of the best ways to do it is with destination marketing.
Destination marketing is about getting consumers interested in visiting a specific city, region or even country using various marketing techniques. It’s about sharing the benefits, perks and experiences travellers enjoy when visiting a particular destination.
In essence, destination marketing is a very pure form of brand marketing. To succeed, a Destination Marketing Organisation must build belief in its brand. DMOs want to attract people to their destination. They want travellers to immerse themselves in everything it offers and share their experiences both during their holiday and once they return home.
But destination marketing isn’t just for DMOs. For airports, destination marketing is the key to unlocking revenue from direct bookings. Yes, suppose you want passengers to book flights, hotels, holidays and other travel ancillaries through your airport website. In that case, you need to focus on creating strong marketing campaigns around the destinations you serve.
Before brainstorming content ideas, you need a clear picture of your target audience. Think about who is likely to want to visit the destination you’re marketing and for what reason. Use previous sales data, customer insights and social listening to build a passenger profile you can sell to. You’ll likely uncover several different audiences, who may each have various reasons for wanting to travel to a particular destination.
Post-pandemic, you may need to rethink traditional visitors to a destination. Consider who is most likely to travel now and realign your content to speak to this ideal traveller.
As we mentioned previously, when creating destination marketing campaigns, it’s important to focus them on what’s important to your customers. The pandemic has created a whole new set of customer expectations and behaviours. When marketing your airport’s destinations, you need to acknowledge these new expectations and speak to today’s travellers.
Some of the current destination marketing trends to consider include:
For many, post-pandemic trips will revolve around reconnecting with loved ones. The people they’re with may be more important than the destination, so you need to focus on why your destination is the perfect place to make new memories.
After experiencing life in lockdown, many people seek out more unique escapes and long for the extraordinary. Spotlight your destination’s most unusual accommodation and hidden gems, showcasing them as new locations with a sense of exclusivity.
Having had plenty of time to research, save up and dream about their next chance to travel, many people will be looking at ticking off a destination on their bucket list. This is particularly true of the 18-24 market. A recent ABTA survey reported over one in five 18-24 year olds are planning a trip of a lifetime. Use your marketing campaigns to show why your destination should be on their list. Highlight once-in-a-lifetime experiences, local culture and other unique selling points.
While many people are keen to escape their homes, experience the outdoors and tick off experiences on their bucket list, a new wave of eco-conscious travellers is emerging. The inability to fly and travel through much of 2020 undoubtedly had a positive impact on the environment. And with the recent COP26 conference serving as a reminder of our need to tackle climate change, many travellers are researching destinations, hotels and travel providers that align with their eco-friendly values.
According to ABTA, there has been a notable increase in holidaymakers turning to travel professionals for new ideas and destinations. Their figures show a 7% increase from 20% in 2019 to 27% in 2021. Furthermore, 20% of people are more likely to use a travel professional to book their holiday than before the pandemic.
This data suggests travellers need the reassurances provided by trusted travel professionals. So why not use your destination marketing campaigns to position your airport as the expert on your destination – a go-to, trusted source?
As well as sharing engaging travel content, make it easy for customers to get answers to their questions and concerns. Consider creating optimised landing pages for your destinations with key travel information, current COVID restrictions and insider tips.
To increase travel sales, airports need to connect with customers right at the beginning of the buyer journey when they experience that ‘I want to get away’ moment and start researching a trip. How? By providing content that customers will find valuable when they’re fact-finding and researching a destination.
But it’s not just a case of sharing your flights, hotels and holidays for a specific destination. You need to sell them on the experiences and memories created from their trip. It’s about inspiring rather than merely informing customers.
Consider all the different ways you can reach your customers and influence the buyer journey:
It’s vital to offer visitors a smooth ecommerce experience and an easy checkout process once they reach the booking stage. Your airport website must give them all the information they need to make a confident purchase.
Comprehensive destination guides, links to social media profiles and online reviews all help to build consumer confidence. But if your checkout process is lengthy or complex, it can be really off-putting.
With Rezcomm’s travel modules, your customers can compare and book flights, hotels, holidays and travel ancillaries in a single basket. We even have an inspirational search tool where travellers can look for destinations according to their interests or preferred travel schedule. This tool can feature content such as destination guides, maps, special offers, weather guides, images and video to boost your destination marketing efforts.
One of the principles of destination marketing involves turning customers into brand ambassadors. Once they’ve had a wonderful time at a destination, you want them to tell the world about it and influence more people to visit.
For airports, this involves building ongoing customer relationships. Use automated personalised emails to check in with your customers before, during and after their trip to ensure they have a positive experience. This interaction will improve your customer’s relationship with your brand and increase the likelihood of a repeat booking.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback and reviews. Encourage customers to share photos and videos of their trip on social media, tagging your airport brand. The more user-generated content out there, the stronger your destination marketing campaign will be and the greater chance you have of generating new leads.
Need a hand managing customer relationships and automating communications? The Rezcomm Marketplace comes with a host of flexible Customer and Marketing modules to make managing your destination marketing campaigns a whole lot easier.
When it comes to creating destination marketing content, the possibilities are endless. Ultimately, the type of content you put out there comes down to what your customers are looking for from the destination you’re selling and what you want to achieve from your destination marketing campaign.
Create content that gives customers FOMO – fear of missing out. Some ideas for this could be:
Cover all of the exciting things customers can see, do and experience at a particular destination. Look for unique and unusual offerings or destination-specific experiences that customers won’t find elsewhere. Local area guides are highly shareable and great for boosting your authority.
Statistics from Google show over 60% of consumers say online video has given them ideas or inspiration for a purchase. Video is one of the most engaging forms of content, so why not use it to sell the destinations your airport serves?
Show travellers what they can do, the feelings they’ll experience and what makes a particular destination unique. Feature real customers and reviews to generate feelings of FOMO in customers that haven’t already booked.
Remember, video content doesn’t always have to be polished. Sharing user-generated video content on your Instagram stories or TikTok is a great way to boost your airport brand’s authenticity.
Remember, consumers trust other consumers far more than they’ll ever trust a brand. Leverage happy customers by encouraging them to share their experiences with your airport and the destinations you serve online. Build up a bank of user-generated content such as photos, videos and reviews you can share on Facebook and Instagram. Doing so will improve brand advocacy and, in turn, generate more sales.
Followers of travel influencers are highly engaged and look to them for travel recommendations. 49% of Gen Z adults and 50% of millennials follow at least one travel influencer on social media, so why not partner with them to increase the reach of your destination marketing?
SEO is the process of optimising your website using best practice techniques that help your site rank higher in the search engine results pages. In turn, this drives more organic traffic and more business to your airport’s site.
Ultimately, SEO relies on the same basic principle as marketing – knowing your target customer. There is no point in spending time, effort, and money attracting more traffic to your online flight ticket booking page if those who land on the page aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
Use a CRM system to help categorise customers and prospects by search criteria – how they’re searching, location and other factors. The more specific you can be, the more effective your SEO strategy.
SEO basics to consider:
Simple navigation and top quality content will boost your traffic. But for strong SEO benefits, each page needs to be built around keyword themes, which is ideal for content that focuses on marketing a destination. Content should be natural and focused, so visitors interact with it positively, boosting your search engine ranking. A higher ranking for destination-based content should translate into more bookings as your website becomes a valuable resource for people to research their trip.
Planning a successful destination marketing post-pandemic requires good data, a clear strategy, engaging content and ongoing testing to achieve a high return on investment.
Choose Rezcomm’s Plug-and-Play Airport Marketplace and select from a wide range of travel, marketing and customer modules to make building and executing your campaigns a breeze. What’s more, our travel marketing experts are on hand to support you in getting the most from your airport’s destination marketing. Get in touch to find out more.
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