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2014: Six online marketing Resolutions for travel businesses

2014 promises to be an exciting year for online travel marketing. However, to fully harvest the opportunities the year brings, you have to prepare properly and set attainable goals. With the online travel trends forecast for 2014 as our guide, here’s a list of resolutions worth looking into.

1. Stop charging for WiFi

If you haven’t started offering guests complimentary WiFi, this is a good time to start. Last year, free WiFi was a major talking point in the travel industry, especially in hospitality. According to 83% of 1,000 frequent travellers surveyed by IHG, free internet access would make them happier while travelling for business. A happy guest means potential positive feedback on online travel review websites like TripAdvisor and social media platforms.

90 percent of 1,000 frequent travellers surveyed by IHG feel that free hotel WiFi services are limited, slow and unreliable. Offering a stable, fast and reliable WiFi connection could boost your reputation and create loyalty amongst clients.
(See the IHG Survey: WiFi Is The Key to Stress-free Travel by 4hoteliers.)

2. Get Blogging

According to Google 2013 Traveller study, 61% of travellers sought travel inspiration on the internet , and blogs played a significant role. If you want to create conversation around your business and reach out to your market this year, keep your business’ blog active. (See the Google 2013 Traveller)

To reach more travellers on both social media and online platforms, Destination marketing organisations (DMOs) need to strengthen ties with travel bloggers this year. An example of a successful joint campaign between bloggers and a DMO is the #MeetSouthAfrica campaign launched by South African Tourism and travel bloggers from the iambassador network in April 2013. By September, the campaign had reached 3.3 million twitter accounts. ( For more about #MeetSouthAfrica campaign, read 6 innovative social media campaigns from the travel industry)

Keith Jenkins, founder of Velvet Escape- a blog that reaches over 150 countries, sums up the role of travel bloggers-“ Bloggers influence travellers’ decision-making with their opinion,facts and pictures.”(ITB World Travel Trends Report 2012/2013)

3. Make mobile a priority

Having a mobile-friendly website has become a standard requirement for a solid online presence. The Google 2013 Traveller study revealed that one in four travellers booked their trip via their smartphone in 2013. This means that if you haven’t migrated to a mobile-friendly website, you’re missing out on a large chunk of the market.

According to Ryan Frankel from Verblizeltz, “travel companies need to design products with mobile in mind and everything else should follow from there.” Leading online marketing website, EMarketer forecasts that mobile search is likely to grow by 52% in 2014. Read: Travel Trends To Bet On In 2014 via Forbes

4. Rethink Social Media

In 2013, 47% of travellers asked for recommendations and shared their travel plans on a social network like Facebook, Twitter or Google +. This has further shifted social media from a peripheral activity into a major marketing component for most businesses.( See:Google 2013 Traveller)

Social media

Fortunately for travel businesses, the right tools are at their disposal. Last year, Pinterest introduced a location feature known as ‘Place Pins’ while Twitter and Instagram launched video sharing platforms.Read more about Twitter’s Vine and Video on Instagram)

Instagram went a step further and introduced Instagram Ads. Google + will also witness significant growth as a new advertising service will be launched on its platform this year. This means that travel businesses have the opportunity to expand their horizons on social media.

With video, advertising and location features integrated on most social media platforms, the onus is on travel businesses to make the most of them.

5. Leverage online video with a focus on user-generated content

According to Google 2013 Traveller, 60% of leisure travellers admitted to being inspired by travel video to plan a vacation while 52% used video when deciding on accommodation. With 6 billion hours of video watched on Youtube every month, Twitter and Instagram adding video into their platforms in 2013, visual content will continue to shape online travel marketing this year.

Although the emphasis is on travel business to produce more travel-related content, it is important not to ignore the client. In 2013, 40% of leisure travel created and shared online video( Google 2013 Traveller). Business travellers were not to be outdone as 48% of them produced their own videos. Encouraging the client to produce and share their own video is an affordable way to market your business online.
Read: Online video marketing tips for tour and activity businesses

6. Welcome the Millennial Traveller

Millennial travellers refers to a new breed of travellers. They are in their mid-20’s to early 30’s,tech-dependent, active on social media and could either be business or leisure travellers.
As this generation of travellers value connectivity(for research and social media), providing complimentary WiFi is the best way to keep this client satisfied. Hotel Interactive sums up the importance of WiFi to the millennials: “Other than a clean bed, WiFi is probably the Number One item Millennials seek in a hotel – it is not an amenity, but a requirement.” See: Top 10 Millennial Traveller Trends by Hotel Interactive

Millennials also have a spontaneous travelling schedule, and is likely to make last minute bookings. According to Hotel Interactive, millennials project a shorter booking window consisting of 75 days compared to 93 days, the rule for older generations. A practical approach for travel businesses to cater for this generation of travellers, is to re-look and improve their online availability and booking infrastructure. Our suggestion: NightsBridge or ActivityBridge

We believe that good marketing tools only work the way they should when businesses understand how to use them, and more importantly, why they should be. We love creating intuitive and understandable guides, tutorials, and how-to‘s for our clients, whether they are only starting out with their Facebook Page, or plotting a content strategy or campaign.

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