4 Ways to Improve Your Traveler Marketing Strategy and Maximize Your Revenue

South Africa is preparing for an exceptional summer season. Advance booking trends show travelers are ready to explore the unique attractions and warm hospitality that South Africa has to offer, with Christmas vacation planning well underway for visitors from key international markets .

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The latest forward booking performance data, released by the Ministry of Tourism in September, shows that bookings between August and October increased by 287% (187,667), while bookings from August to January 2023 increased by 227% (294,220).

According to data from digital travel marketing platform Sojern, domestic tourism and travelers across Africa continue to be the mainstay of the sector’s recovery in 2022, with 46.2% of flight bookings in August from South African travellers. However, South Africa’s major international markets are already outperforming 2019.

The percentage of international arrivals from the United Kingdom to South Africa in 2022 increased to 9.6%, from 6.6% in 2019. Arrivals to the United States in 2019 were 3.9% and increased to 6.6% in 2022 so far, while Germany’s 3.7% arrivals to South Africa rise to 4%.

International travelers are planning more in advance compared to the pre-pandemic period of 2019, with more than 40% of trips being planned more than three months in advance. In contrast, domestic travelers are booking trips closer to departure dates, with only 2% of Sojern’s total flight booking volume made up of January and February 2023 bookings so far.

Changing booking windows show that the tourism and hospitality industry cannot rely solely on seasonal predictability, says Stewart Smith, Sojern’s managing director for the Middle East and Africa. “These new consumer habits should be the building blocks of your future-ready digital toolkit. At Sojern, we believe that an “always on” marketing strategy optimally focuses on engaging travelers at the right time. time, wherever they are throughout their planning and booking journey.

“As South Africa gears up for its peak season, getting ahead of your digital marketing strategy will ensure your hotel stays a priority so you can earn more direct bookings.”

What does “always on” mean?

“Going dark” is simply not an option in today’s environment. People are always traveling, even during the low season, and you have to meet the needs of the traveler at that time.

Your marketing strategy must be ubiquitous and you can no longer rely on one or even two digital channels and hope to establish and build a relationship with your customers. This means campaigns should always be live with a multi-channel approach. Your ad appears across all the different digital channels consumers buy from – including display, search, paid social media or metasearch.

Four factors to consider for your future-ready digital marketing toolkit:

1. Smart execution with a multi-channel approach

Changing traditional booking models, coupled with potential travelers maneuvering in the digital world, creates a complex challenge for travel marketers.

But it’s possible to be competitive in a rapidly changing digital landscape if you understand your customers’ intentions and stay on top of why travelers are booking. Having access to granular destination data insights and leveraging your existing data through a multi-channel approach can help you achieve this. We must also find new reasons to attract travellers.

A few years ago, hotels wouldn’t have dreamed of advertising to travelers to work while on vacation. Right now, travelers are booking last-minute trips and extending their stays to take advantage of remote working.

Sojern found that adopting three channels – display, Facebook/Instagram, and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – can double conversions, with those results coming from creating a comprehensive end-to-end strategy. A multi-channel marketing strategy also gives you clear and measurable goals, cross-channel optimization, and clean data.

2. Target audiences and marketing channels

Travelers are dynamic and can jump from search engines to social media to travel sites and back again before making the final decision. Find the right traveler for your business ahead of the upcoming peak season with travel intent data.

Sojern, for example, monitors intent signals from potential travelers across all platforms and can target them to help them book directly with you. This makes the “why” and “how” of your strategy crucial and gives your campaigns a sense of direction so you can plan and adjust over time.

It’s essential to define the objectives and parameters of your multi-channel advertising campaign, so that you can evaluate and adjust for better results, Smith adds.

3. Consistent messaging and design

Grab the attention of the target audience you have now identified with a polished message and well-designed advertisement. Leverage the unique aspects of your business to establish it as a preferred brand when presenting special offers, packages and promotions relevant to your user.

Google reported that 65% of Millennials and Gen Z travelers are inspired by digital content to book travel. But you literally have seconds to tell the right story.

“Sojern, for example, found that AB testing on different ads was effective in seeing what worked best for conversion. The right image can make all the difference. A recent Sojern test on hotel images found that exterior photos had a 55% higher click-through rate than images for rooms, lifestyle activities, and amenities. Exterior images also resulted in an almost 4% increase in conversion rate. , room rates on ads also saw much higher engagement and a 12.5% ​​increase in conversion rate.”

Ad size also matters, Smith says, and can save you money. The top performing global ad sizes found by Sojern’s creative team are:

● 300 x 600: half page
● 160×600 – wide skyscraper
● 300 x 250: medium rectangle
● 728 x 90: Rating

In the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, Sojern found that all four of these sizes were effective, but for this particular region, they found that including a 980 x 90 size creative in the campaign improved the conversion rate by 25%. %.

HTML5 ads also drive more engagement. An AB test comparing animated HTML5 ads to static JPG ads found that HTML5 ads had a 13% higher click-through rate, 8% more converters (people who converted), and a 13% higher search rate on the customer’s website. If you want your brand to stand out, use HTML5 ads in your campaigns.

4. Activate loyalty to prepare for a world without cookies

Loyalty means being hyper relevant and hyper targeted to your customer. It’s more than the practical application and transactional side of loyalty, which looks at points, added values ​​and free nights. “There’s a huge emotional connection that translates into brand loyalty if you get it right. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking what the reason for this trip is. But that’s what you do with it. the answer that matters,” Smith says.

As Google Chrome prepares to phase out cookies in the second half of 2024, first-party data collection isn’t a maybe, it’s a must. Loyalty programs are an effective way to achieve this when managing and growing your direct booking strategy.

The benefits of using first-party data for personalization include the ability to leverage customer experiences across all touchpoints of the buyer’s journey. When you host the data, you can control its cleanliness.

Data provides personalization so you can share customer preferences across all areas of your business value chain, giving you more opportunities to build trust and wow them.

Targeted and relevant information in your campaigns will inspire travelers to take action, increasing bookings and providing loyalty opportunities. But remember, loyalty doesn’t happen overnight.

Sophisticated predictive intelligence and observational data are brought to life through your multi-channel strategy and personalization to stay at the forefront. Ultimately, your brand must cement this relationship to create new possibilities and add value to travelers.

William L. Hart