How to redefine your product portfolio and be continuously relevant as demand changes and supply is restricted.
Availability and supply
The Covid-19 lockdown has substantially impacted the availability of products which will for some time cause a problem for travel sales channels. Not only will you have to present the most meaningful offer to consumers based on their interests and intent – but you will also have to ensure that the product remains available.
Many destinations will struggle to cater to the full capacity of tourists they were used to. Simultaneously many travel businesses will struggle to survive over the coming years where demand is restricted and operations are significantly hampered by new Covid-19 safety and standard measures.
Travel businesses will have to take greater control and have more flexibility over their product portfolio and promotions to maximise conversion and profit to avoid a conflict between changes in demand and standardised travel offers.
Understanding consumer demand
To stay competitive, changes in demand need to be identified early to divest from struggling offers and to invest into the main demand-supply gaps of the new tomorrow. This change in demand will become apparent in the inspiration phase – pushing decision-making further out as consumers look for greater confidence and security in their bookings.
Market research is often expensive and time consuming but is required to understand which products to offer, which allotments to book, and which deals to promote. The answers lie directly in your travel sales platform’s user behaviour, knowing the upcoming changes in demand allows travel businesses to adapt the product portfolio in real-time and even automate product displays to respond to visitor intent.
Building consumer confidence
A great service is one that empowers the user to make confident decisions instead of overwhelming them with options and dubious marketing promises. Personalisation tools engage the user by ranking results and providing product recommendations in an objective and data-driven way.
This is especially important when encouraging consumer confidence as they become more selective or seek out new niches. Those companies that build up customer loyalty will be those that make finding holiday offers a fun and easy task rather than a chore.
Curating product offers
The usual product displays are neither likely to work for most travel companies nor for their visitors. Those curated by editorial teams or compiled through generic algorithms will present outdated promotions and can lack the relevancy needed for the visitor.
Travel companies need to ensure product type and availability is matched to user interest to offer the best user experience. As destinations open up and products become available again, product displays and recommenders need to be responding in real-time, providing the most appropriate alternative destinations and hotels.
Knowing the coming changes in demand will allow you to adapt the product portfolio constantly in real-time or even automate aspects with a seamless technical integration to respond to market changes.
After a decade of economic growth and stability, the lockdown came as a shock causing airlines to cancel all flights, passengers to be trapped on cruises for weeks, travelers restricted to in-city movements, and hotels forced closed. There will be trepidation in reopening markets over the coming year, with different types of holidays and travel becoming available at different stages in our recovery.
We are already expecting a surge in “staycations” as flights are restricted and consumers opt to stay in familiar locations with a boom in holiday rentals and camping expected. Travellers will look first for safe accommodation and more price-sensitive options, reducing city-visits in favour of countryside retreats with delays in returning to cruising and party holidays.
With strains on personal budgets, many users will likely seek less expensive but also “safer” travels in the coming months. This makes it crucial to re-evaluate spending habits, price elasticity, and the safety and guarantees travel demand, for instance through quality providers and insurance options.
You need your product to work for real-time consumer sentiment and only to present the most attractive and (more importantly) available offerings. Avoid being redundant to your visitors, and only display the products that will appeal to them.
Steering your success
Travel companies can implement new promotional strategies based on product attributes and weightings that can be applied to micro-segments. The key is to identify the type of visitor and holiday and presenting the most relevant offers throughout the buyer journey from discovery to booking.
We recommend your new promotional strategies to focus on the following areas:
- Display Covid-19-related information to indicate destinations of low risk or with travel restrictions.
- Support users to find alternatives to their existing bookings or those currently searching for holidays in crisis regions
- Promote the best or trending hotels and offers, as well as those with the best availability (remembering that trends have changed).
- Suggest products that offer the best commercial opportunity for the travel company
- Steering the visibility of specific travel products during the customers’ journey helps you meet your wider sales and commercial goals and when matched with user intent data will display appropriate personalised results for an enhanced user experience.