The Biorhythm of Customer Holiday Planning and Buying

, ,

We have all heard of the Google stats that state that people visit between 6 and 20 websites during their holiday research. For expensive holidays ( over £2,500) research suggests that consumers spend 10 hours + researching their trip.

Recent Research published in June 2014 shows that the older generation is now spending more time online researching than ever before ( article on web search use vs travel agents) and that 48% of respondents in the research found online easier to manage than through a travel agent.

In fact, many of the online players are in fact travel agents – just online ones ( OTA’s) and as such have made the move to being relevant to consumers during their holiday search. What these OTA’s do very effectively is capture email addresses. In fact, capturing an email address is the most important thing that their sites do outside of selling the actual holiday. Why is this?

It comes down to the Biorhythm of Buying a holiday. 

bio a

Researching and buying a holiday takes place over a number of weeks, often the more expensive, the longer they take. This is not an Amazon style instant purchase.

Take a look at the Biorhythm on the left. The dotted line represents the line above which the consumer is in a ‘ready to purchase’ mode during their holiday planning cycle.

There are some key take aways here.

1. In the early stages of planning they are not open to selling at all so no matter how hard you try your efforts will mostly fall on deaf ears

2. Towards the end of the cycle, the consumer is most open to ‘selling’ and as such, this is the area that you need to concentrate on.

 

So the OTA’s do a great job at being visible throughout this process, grabbing an email address and sending relevant emails to the consumer during the planning phase. In comparison, the traditional agent without a relevant online presence and no email marketing programme to be able to engage the consumer during the research phase is never going to be found.

But wait, most people know that email marketing is important. The problem comes when the email marketing programme is not run as a lead generation system. Not having a system in place means that emails are sporadic at best, but key, don’t arrive in inboxes at the right time.

holiday trip biorythm

 

Let’s take an example of an agent that sends out an email to their database every 3 months as shown on the biorhythm on the right.

During this 3 month cycle the chances are that the email/facebook post/tweet/direct marketing newsletter will arrive in the consciousness of the consumer during the time they are least likely to purchase.

It’s great that the email has been sent, but as the consumer continues their research all the other more proactive holiday companies continue their visibility to the consumer so by the time they get to the point where they want to purchase, your email is a long time ago and they have forgotten that you are relevant in their decision making process.

 

The Proven Path to Winning that holiday spend

holiday trip biorythm2

 

The only way to ensure that you are visible throughout the cycle and therefore gain a chance of pitching for the holiday is to be consistent in your marketing communication.

The biorhythm on the left shows that consistent communication throughout the life cycle of a consumer planning and research makes sure that you stay relevant to the consumer. Your email will land in the inbox with your ‘Call to Action’ at the right time, when the consumer is most open to purchasing a holiday.

This biorhythm set us off on a quest to develop The Travel Selling System – an automated sure fire way to make sure that you compete effectively for that holiday spend.

 

Traditional agents have nothing to fear from tech, Advantage conference told

, ,

Traditional agents have nothing to fear from tech, the 2014 Advantage conference was told via Traditional agents have nothing to fear from tech, Advantage conference told.

Wow – what a headline! Never before has technology disrupted an industry like technology has disrupted the travel industry. Has it stopped this innovation and progress? Just take a look at the Skift Blog on what is going on in travel start ups and you’d think it worth packing your bags and becoming a traveller instead rather than trying to sell it.

But hold on for a moment, is it that bad? Telephone calls centres disrupted the Insurance selling industry and sure – there are some big players with the likes of Comparethemarket.com and others, but has it wiped out ALL insurance sellers? No. Are there fewer – Yes.

So the headline at Advantages Conference should rather have been – ‘Great Agents have nothing to fear from tech’. The travel industry is all about a human connection and choosing and booking a holiday is sometimes just too complicated to be automated online. Sure – if its a commodity like a flight seat or villa rental it’s easy to see how a website can book these effectively. Add in a couple of questions ( and who doesn’t have a question when it comes to spending £3,000 +) and hey – who do I ask?

So what is the future for great agents? Well it certainly involves technology as that is how consumers will find you and that is also how you will engage with consumers. If you don’t invest time in understanding what technology to use and spend money investing in the right technology then you will get left behind. Your past business model does not work anymore, you will lose bookings to online players, unless you can prove to your clients why you are in the game and what value you bring to their travel purchase proposition.

How to Find a Cheap Hotel Room: Sites to Use and Sites to Avoid

,

This post was inspired by a blog post from the travel blogger site below:

Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site

via How to Find a Cheap Hotel Room: Sites to Use and Sites to Avoid.

Nomadic Matt is all about finding the best travel deals. The bane of travel agent’s lives – people booking direct! But as you can read in the blog post – there are many sites out there that do a good job at convincing the public that they are the cheapest.

Interestingly, Matt’s conclusion was to avoid MetaSearch sites and always to check with Tingo* ( a Trip Advisor company that guarantees refunds if the hotel room you book ends up cheaper elsewhere. We have installed a metasearch engine on many travel agent sites successfully (this enables the agent to sell online or offline using their TAAP Expedia Account and still earn commission).

I carried out a search between Tingo and our Metasearch site and found:

1. Tingo quoted prices excluding Tax ( not allowed in the UK) and so the price at checkout was always closer or the same as the Metasearch site

2. Tingo availability stopped when they could not compete on price that easily ( I found availability for a hotel using Metasearch more times than the availability showing on Tingo)

What can a Travel Agent Learn from all this?

1. The consumer is being ‘duped’ quite a lot of the time that the best price is online

2. It is becoming easier and easier to find a hotel and check prices online

3. That a user should check multiple site before choosing who to book with

4. That Expedia were the cheapest on many occasions

5. That agents should incorporate a metasearch hotel engine on their site to enable them to be seen as ‘least expensive’ by their users/clients. This will encourage the clients to keep coming back to the agent site and to use it on mobile effectively while also being able to be able to sell the hotel offline (via Expedia TAAP account and still pick up commission)

 

 

Seth Godin : Three kinds of advertising

, , ,

Seth Godin writes that there are 3 kinds of advertising: Direct Response, Trust and Demand Enhancement in his latest blog: Three kinds of advertising

Of the three adverts, direct response ( where Google makes all its money) is the only measurable one, but for almost all agents it is very easy to make no margin from this ( unless you can convert and manage the scales of transaction that ‘Onthe Beach’ does). If you are a whizz with Google Adwords ( i.e. a trained Google Adwords professional) and you don’t charge your own company for your time then this may be a profitable route. If you have to buy in this resource the chances are you won’t break even on the spend. Because of the historical trading arrangements of travel agents, agents tend to expect all marketing expenditure to be of the ‘direct response’ variety, measurable by campaign. For larger agents with bookable websites, reliance on Google is a must, albeit an expensive ever rising cost. For smaller agents, direct advertising response is just not an option. Does this means that all marketing activity should be avoided then? Absolutely not – there are 2 other forms of ads that smaller agents can use. They form part of the inbound marketing methods that agents should include to nurture their potential clients.

Trust Ads ( the sort you see in news feeds on Facebook – i.e. LateCards postings of latest offers). I’d add into this, email promotions to your customer lists ( i.e. emailing offers  to potential clients). Trust ads remind people you exist. Demand ads do the similar things ( for the full list and examples on Seth’s site see Seth Godin Three kinds of advertising. If you cannot afford direct response advertising ( because the ROI does not work for you), then you must continue with your Trust and Demand adverts. manage these geographically so as to ring fence a budget and be cost effective.

The one message is that you must do something and do it well. Do it half heartedly and you will spend money but have the same impact as doing nothing. Doing nothing, your business will not grow and worse, go into decline. Use the tools you have and set the budget for your business. Using LateCards advertising tools are some of the least cost ways of advertising your business and produce the largest ROI. But don’t mistake these for Direct Adverts, they are difficult to measure because they form part of the users journey in deciding on holiday purchasing. But not to use them, is like locking your shop front door.