The travel and tourism industry have adapted well to the digital world to increase their brand awareness generate a greater outreach of customers compared to what traditional marketing could do.
In 2020, the travel and tourism industry are increasingly feeling the pinch of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), as several governments continue to implement lockdowns, impose travel bans, and cancel events. In Malaysia, these sectors are expected to be among the most affected sectors with an expected loss of RM3.37 billion within the first two months of the year as addressed by Prime Minister Tan Seri Muhyiddin Yassin.
In the digital age, travel industry professionals can leverage new tech capabilities and communicate in more innovative ways to reach new audiences. Amid a disaster, players in the travel industry are always looking for the greatest and unique ways to reach their buyer persona and tailor their offering to their target audience.
This article discusses about Digital Marketing in the Travel Industry and how this industry can make use of Digital Marketing’s powers in delivering more business.
Creating content through storytelling
Digital marketing has allowed content to become more inclusive and shape different narratives. The aim is still to sell, whilst hiding behind a smokescreen. This has certainly been beneficial to the travel and tourism industry because flexible narratives allow the reader to view the content to their preference.
When we craft a story about our neighbourhood, we tend to describe it much better.
Neighbourhood storytelling allows us to think about what emotions, values, and ideas you can offer your audience. Some of the questions we tend to ask like “What sort of value are you offering them every time they engage with your content?”
The neighbourhood-centric focus defines the selling points of a destination in a more nuanced way, broadens the identity of the destination for more diverse audiences, customizes the destination experience for individual viewers, and answers the demand for authentic local travel.
Digital marketing is also enormously useful in times of crisis as it can be used to help shift public opinion by creating and focusing on an alternate narrative.
Social media in E-travel
Social media has created the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) factor, particularly Instagram (IG), an image-based social media outlet. Most of the IG explore pages are filled with travel photos, often complemented by captioned recollections or reflections on the destination and hashtags galore. While many travellers said social media influenced a change in their travel plans, most of them are more likely to book a trip from a company that has been liked by a friend rather than a conventional Facebook ad.
Many users have become influencers, with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of followers, and they are paid to visit and promote these places. Influencer marketing as a subsector of digital marketing continues to be effective because, again, people see these individuals as someone just like us and in many cases, are highly likely to take action or make purchases based on the support and/or recommendation of their favourite places.
Digital platforms have changed the way marketers operate and has given them the ability to put their messages right at the fingertips of potential customers at the same time offer advertising opportunities for businesses. If you have an active social media presence, the number of people engaging with your brand increases even more.
Facebook is by far the most popular and effective social media tool, reaching billions of people around the world. It also advertises only to people who have shown an interest in your type of product or specific interests that you have identified in your ideal customer.
Other social media giants that offer advertising include Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. With a large percentage of the world population actively using at least one of these outlets, not using them for your travel and tourism branding is a huge mistake.
Increased use of Mobile
When we compare digital consumption now, to what it used to be, even just a few years ago, we can see a huge difference. The importance of usability via mobile is paramount to the tourism and hospitality sector as more people use their mobiles to book their airplane tickets and hotel rooms. We’re seeing an emerging trend in mobile-only travel agencies – at the moment they focus mostly on last-minute deals but we should see a rise as these offer quick solutions for travellers.
Besides, thanks to the power of Wi-Fi with access to hotel rooms and public locations such as tourist attractions, planning a trip on the spot has become fairly easy for travellers. Large hotel chains are getting increasing demand that they need to offer more than just a room. With the growth of companies like AirBnb and neighbourhood local travel guides, we’re starting to see hotels offer mobile guides that are available to staying guests. Many hotels also offer services that allow customers to explore neighbourhoods they are staying at, by offering interactive Neighbourhood Guides. This offers guests an overview of each hotel’s unique neighbourhood story, a roundup of the local hotel team’s favourite attractions and restaurants, and the technology to share what they’ve discovered through a photo-sharing tool linked to Facebook.
Web design plays a major role in visitors’ first impressions on a travel site. This means that design can be the determining factor in whether a visitor trusts recommendations and information. It can be an ultimatum for a person to take a certain tour, stay at a certain hotel, or even visit a city or country altogether.
Setting up a blog is a great way to drive traffic into your website, and get people excited about your brand. By blogging about traveling you can practice some indirect advertisement. For example, instead of having a huge ad pop on someone’s screen, you can get them excited to go to a place/try new technology/have an experience, and then subtly tell them that you can provide it.
The role of virtual travel
The latest technologies and innovations have allowed virtual reality to become of the most looked upon online travel marketing. VR helps holidaymakers the chance to ‘try before you buy’ in a way that was impossible in the earlier days.
You can see what a company’s beach resort really looks like. In the future, with the development of VR, you will be able to look around the resort, see your room and check out just how big the pool is.
As the tourism industry faces an unprecedented confluence of threats with large hotel chains and digital platforms being forced to cancel reservations around the world, tourism players will realise that that digital marketing is the way to point travellers in your direction all year long.
If you need further assistance with the digital marketing of your business or services, you can write to our digital team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columnist- Danisha Nair
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