By Simon Van Wyk, Head of Agency, Tourism Solved
There is an interesting article on the NYTimes that looks at what is going on country by country. It varies, but it is clear travel is back on the agenda, and operators should start thinking about how they manage this and start putting together some plans.
The good news for operators is that the public has a pent-up desire to get out and do something. New results of an Allianz survey of its U.S. travel insurance customers found that more than four in ten Americans plan to travel before the year is out. Meanwhile, Asian travellers have shown more confidence about travelling in the new normal, as compared to their Western counterparts, according to a recent global study that examined the sentiments of more than 10,000 people across 17 countries regarding travel in a post-COVID-19 world.
Both studies show that the travel is going to be local. It will be a while until long-haul international travel starts again.
To help your travel business get started, here are the 6 things to do now to capture the local travelers.
Start with existing customers
Many businesses have a list of past customers. These are potentially an opportunity. People are looking to get away, often with a family and a great experience would be the perfect way to travel again. An email campaign to local customers with a return offer would be the perfect way to get a kick start. Perhaps asking past customers for a Google review is a great way to bolster your online visibility.
Make sure you are visible to planners
People use the internet to save time or waste time. With travel right now we are talking about wasting time. People are dreaming and your business needs to be visible to even be considered. This is about search marketing and social advertising.
Optimize for direct bookings
Reserve with Google is a powerful tool to get direct bookings from people looking for a business like yours. These bookings can be free of an OTA commission. Making sure you get to keep every dollar is critical and this service is free (at least for now).
Build and manage your pipeline
You have to build a pipeline. This is about a cohesive plan to target potential travelers, to introduce them to your product, and then to ensure you maintain contact until they are ready to purchase something. Luckily small local businesses can take advantage of the tools provided by Facebook and Google to do just that. Never before have businesses had better tools to target their market. These tools provide small businesses with focus but take some effort to get started.
Look at your channels
You are going to have limited time and resources. Many businesses in this category assume there are no costs in dealing with every aggregator or OTA. These things all take time and add complexity to your business. Start with an assessment of these channels and pick the ones that work for you and work with the OTA to improve the quality of your listing and take advantage of every option and opportunity they provide. They are all going to be under pressure and should be much more interested in building a relationship.
Create local partnerships
Ever noticed how when you get an eCommerce delivery you often get a coupon for a new business? Well, you can do the same thing. Form a number of partnerships with other local businesses and provide the coupons to these businesses. The longer you can keep someone busy in your region the better off you will be and the more they associate your brand with those great experiences, the better their review will be and the more they will tell their friends about you too. This is quick and easy to do and can be set-up online so you are getting people back to your websites. The power of that additional website traffic and cross-links can’t be underestimated for the success of your search engine optimization.