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What Makes for a Really Good European Christmas Market trip?

17 Sep 2019
Victoria Wallace

Global travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industries generating over $1.3 trillion in revenue each year and with a global economic contribution of over $7.6 trillion in 2016.

With such a large audience and such a huge potential gain, it has never been more important to stand out against the competition.

In order to succeed, and to provide value, information and support to the customer, destination marketing campaigns, no matter how specific, must be increasingly innovative and above all, tailored to the needs of your airport’s passengers.

Planning your campaign

Christmas may traditionally be a time when people head home to see family, but it’s also an important time in Travel. British families rack up an average of 302 miles over the festive season, and there’s a rise in seasonal overseas travel amongst millenials with 48% of those surveyed planning to travel during the 2017 holiday.

Build long-term brand engagement

While ‘Sunshine Saturday’ may fall just after Christmas, on January 7th, there’s every reason to take advantage of this peak booking period in preparation for the next Christmas season. This is the perfect time to make sure your airport brand is discoverable and even to prompt your audience into thinking about their next winter sun holiday. It’s also a good time to develop relationships with new subscribers and connect with customers who have booked a summer trip. From there, it’s a short step to building excitement around Christmas market city breaks as you move through the year’s campaigns.

Build your list of festive keywords

There will be an increase in searches for things like ‘Christmas travel’ from early September and this will peak between December 17 and 23. Christmas naturally creates an almost universal deadline: People are anxious to get everything organised before the day and for most there’s a pressure to do something special. This gives a strong advantage to marketers but also creates a responsibility to help customers to find the right product in time.

Offer incentives

Reach out to customers and prospects by creating festive campaigns around your Christmas market trips. You can retarget campaigns such as Black Friday deals by offering promotions on seasonal trips. Social media is a great platform for this too. You can use strong images and video to give a flavour of the experience and create ‘fear of missing out,’ and this will encourage engagement that brings new leads.

Create separate campaigns for previous customers and existing prospects. Reach out with re-engagement messages to build customer loyalty and generate repeat bookings.

Stay customer-focussed

Remember the importance of quality content and keep the customer front and centre. If you want to be remembered for providing a really good Christmas market trip, it’s vital to focus on what your customers want and need. Offer destination guides that offer a detailed overview of what to expect on arrival, and tailor your campaigns to each individual. Remember, many people find Christmas shopping incredibly stressful, so offer a solution that engages them with the idea that it can be fun, and a special experience in itself. Present buying can be a real challenge because increasingly people want less ‘stuff’. Share content about unique products at the market that will make useful, fun, festive gifts. Make sure customers have clear information about baggage allowance so they know how many presents they can bring home. You could even offer a fun visual guide showing baggage weight in terms of the number of a particular local speciality that will fit in a suitcase.

Build your team

It’s also vital to develop an effective internal communications strategy. This works alongside any best-practice procedures you use to communicate with your customers and partners. By treating your employees with the same care it is possible to boost engagement. Effective communication in the workplace also enables you to provide exceptional service and satisfy customer needs, creating a streamlined experience that moves effortlessly from digital to terminal and beyond.

Productivity improves by up to 25% in businesses with connected employees. Employees become brand ambassadors, engaging with customers, sharing messages on social platforms and working towards a common goal that ultimately benefits the customer.

The challenges of destination marketing

Today’s customers demand simplicity, instant gratification and immediate resolution to the smallest problem. They equate brands with the experiences they have with them, and they readily share those experiences if they’re positive or negative. At the same time, over-tourism is impacting on the integrity of some destinations, causing a lack of authenticity in the traveller’s experience.

The experience a traveller has of a destination is based on four aspects:

  • Its geography and environment
  • Its defined attributes and marketable product, so in this instance the Christmas Market
  • The culture and heritage – its history and unique cultural aspects
  • The sort of people who chose to live in and visit a place

Looking at this realistically, any experience of a place will only ever be as good as that destination’s ability to deliver the experience. Therefore to ensure that your customers enjoy a really good Christmas market trip, your airport must play to its expertise, and to your in-depth knowledge of your destinations.

A brief guide to Christmas markets in Europe

Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg is home to one of Europe’s longest running Christmas markets. First held in 1570, the market stretches over 10 locations with 300 stalls. Travellers could enjoy a week in Strasbourg just enjoying the market!

Viennese Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
First held in 1298, the Viennese market involves more than 20 events. The city really embraces the festive spirit with a huge ice skating rink, 150 stalls, reindeer rides for children and a classic Nativity scene.

Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Open every day until January 6th, including Christmas day, the two main markets are only five minutes walk from each other and can easily be explored in a day.

Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, Hungary
The Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival is the oldest and most popular festive market in Hungary. It takes place from early November to the end of December each year. Alongside Hungarian delicacies and Christmas gifts, there’s plenty of entertainment in the form of folk dancing, light shows and live music.

Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy
Alongside the market, which consists of 50 stalls in front of the Franciscan Basilica, Florence also boasts a traditional nativity scene and Christmas tree in the Piazza del Duomo.

Krakow, Poland
This market usually sees a heavy dusting of snow in December, making for a magical Christmas experience. Local specialities include hand-painted Christmas baubles, and stalls feature everything from seasonal gifts to cheap antiques.

Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham, UK
Perhaps not the most obvious destination for a traditional German Christmas market, but this is the largest example outside of Germany or Austria. The neighbouring craft market offers regional beers and food and work by local artists.

Other famous markets include:

  • Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin, Germany
  • Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
  • Skansen’s Christmas Market, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona, Spain
  • Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
  • Advent in Zagreb, Croatia
  • Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia

Consider studying in-depth guides and articles about Christmas markets from expert travel writers for some pointers about where to focus your campaign. These offer great insight into which features may appeal to different segments of your customer base. For example, families with children may be interested in a destination where they can meet Santa and his reindeer, while couples may be more attracted by a place with romantic architecture and where the Christmas market is not the only attraction.

Rezcomm is the technology partner of choice for airports worldwide. Contact us for a chat to find out how our in-depth industry knowledge and world-first integrated airport ecommerce platform will give you the tools to build a strong destination marketing strategy year-round, leading to greater sales, revenue and customer engagement.