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3 Ideas to Make the Most out of last-minute Getaways

17 Jan 2019
Marc Ive

Valentine’s day is worth more than £450 million in the UK and $19.6 billion in the US. However, while research commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 52% of over 2000 respondents had no intention of buying a gift for their loved one last February, data from the National Rail Federation shows that many consumers, particularly Millennials, are more interested in sharing experiences than giving and receiving presents.

This makes Valentine’s day a perfect opportunity for the travel industry to engage new last-minute customers. Airports can optimise the experience for travellers offering VIP experiences such as relaxing lounge stops with a romantic glass of champagne, or promoting on-site food and beverage concessions with two-for-one deals. It’s also a great time to share destination ideas with couples looking to book a romantic getaway. The post-Christmas newspaper and magazine travel pages are full of ideas for city breaks in hotspots like Venice, Paris and Rome, and this is the time to capture those last-minute bookings.

Why do travellers book last minute?
One useful insight before we look at marketing tips is to understand the motivation to book last minute. Analysis by YouGov, published in 2017, shows that the key factor in these travel decisions is spontaneity. The survey showed that last-minute bookers are more likely to say they don’t mind taking risks with their money (34% vs 21%) and more liable to make impulsive purchases (51% vs 43%) than the general population. While a common assumption is that last-minute bookers are on the lookout for a deal this is not always the case. 59% of respondents to the YouGov study said they simply did not like to plan too far ahead.

It’s interesting to note that this demographic is more passionate about travel than most (62% vs 52%), and the data shows that they can be won over by just reading an article about a destination. 42% say that newspaper and magazine features influenced their destination choice. The survey also shows that when booking last minute breaks, 61% will book travel and accommodation separately while 30% prefer package deals.

The underlying message for airports and travel companies is that the best way to encourage last-minute bookers is to create a sense that the destination, and the experience it embodies, is unmissable, unique, (and Instagram-friendly!)…

Mobile marketing for Valentine’s Day
Despite its romantic beginnings, Valentine’s Day is a significant spending holiday worldwide. And that spend is shifting from physical stores to online bookings and purchases. A 2017 survey by PwC of 24,000 shoppers across 29 countries found that the percentage of purchases made on mobiles and tablets is climbing steadily while desktop use continues to decline. Mobiles are increasingly used throughout the booking funnel for research, shopping and payment with customers saying they had paid for purchases (27%), researched products (44%) and compared prices with competitors (38%) on their mobile device.

Three ways to engage last-minute bookers

1. Connect with your customers using email marketing
Despite the buzz around social media, email is still the most successful platform for customer acquisition and retention, and Valentine’s Day creates a great opportunity to share a themed marketing campaign with your customers.

An integrated CRM and emarketing solution like Rezcomm Engage allows you to segment and target customers according to their specific interests. Social media integration even makes it possible to see whether a contact has recently become engaged, celebrated a significant anniversary or started a new relationship, so your Valentine’s message can reach the right people at the right time.

Give your email an irresistible subject line that explores the theme of love and romance or explicitly refers to Valentine’s Day. Be clear about any special offers in the heading too, and use emojis where appropriate. Emoji symbols have been proven to increase open rates by up to 254% in push notifications, and as long as they are not overused, they have similar appeal across email and social media.

The content of your email must be engaging enough to drive customers to your website and through to conversion. VIP offers (only available to those people who have signed up to your mailing list) and scarcity (‘book before midnight to get this deal’) are two great incentives. Focus the email around your best romantic destinations, city breaks and hotel partners and use strong images to give a sense of the experience on offer. Remember the YouGov findings that many spontaneous last minute bookers are swayed by just reading an article about a featured destination? This is the perfect chance to share quality content such as a city destination guides. Again, focus on couples’ activities – dining out, and experiences suitable for time spent together.

Articles within an email can appear in preview with a ‘read more’ click-through to keep a good flow through the email. This is important in order to keep the visibility of any call to action (CTA) buttons.

2. Run Valentine’s Day Promotions
If you’re selling city breaks for couples, Valentine’s Day could potentially be one of your biggest sale opportunities of the year. This focus on couples also makes for the perfect time to set up ‘two for one’ deals. Most businesses already have ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ type offers, and these can be easily reframed to suit Valentine’s Day. Other ideas might be deals with partner hotels for a romantic dinner for two, a free glass of champagne on arrival, or a two for one deal on a relaxing spa treatment. These special offers don’t have to be limited to the holiday itself, and are a good opportunity to market the airport as a destination too.

Put plenty of thought into selecting your deals so that they are relevant to Valentine’s Day, and so they appeal to your core demographic, and especially couples. These deals should feel more special than a normal BOGOF and this is what will drive the marketing both on-site and online. An integrated booking and CRM platform like Rezcomm Engage will give your airport accurate, real-time insights into popular products and customer buying history that will allow you to make informed business decisions as you design these special experiences for your customers.

3. Advertise on social media
Potentially the most important finding in the 2017 research carried out for PwC was the influence of social networks toward online buying decisions, with 47% of shoppers choosing either social networks or visual social networks as their main source of inspiration (2017 Total Retail Survey by PWC).

Let’s cover that again…

Social networks are not just influential. Nearly 50% of customers use them as their MAIN source of inspiration.

At the same time, organic reach is not as powerful as it used to be, and with ongoing changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithm, businesses must look for alternative ways to ensure that their posts are seen.

The most reliable way to extend your reach on networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is paid advertising.

It’s crucial to decide what you want from each campaign. Do you want to increase visits to your website or a Valentine’s Day landing page, increase engagement, build new email subscriptions or publicise a new romantic holiday destination?

You can also run adverts designed to test the impact of boosted posts in comparison with organic posts. Focus on products and services that are popular on Valentine’s Day and keep posts consistent with your normal social media tone. You can also use Valentine’s Day hashtags to increase visibility and encourage travellers to share user-generated content, inspiring the next wave of holidaymakers.

It may be worth creating a special landing page for your social media post so followers can quickly click through to a specific destination or deal. This also makes it easy to track engagement and conversions as they come from social media which makes it possible to see how effective the campaign is. Add unique content to the landing page and attach a special offer for a product or service such as airport parking or on-site food and beverage concessions to encourage sales and sign-ups.

If you would like to know more about how Rezcomm Engage can help with every aspect of your ecommerce operation from marketing to back office, or for advice on your emarketing strategy for 2019, contact the team today.

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