Travel marketing: What the revitalized bus travel industry can teach you about reinventing your travel brand.

September 27, 2012
Photo of Megabus

New intracity bus lines like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing bus travel.

A new generation of express bus carriers are reinventing a once-dying industry, and rewriting the rules of travel marketing along the way.

Christine Whittemore of Simple Marketing Now recently wrote an insightful piece on the rise of the new bus travel industry that appeared in the blog Marketing Profs.

Some of her insights are worth repeating for marketers of travel and tourism brands in need of some serious reconstruction.

People stopped riding buses for a variety of reasons:

  • High prices compared to trains and planes.
  • Inconvenient schedules.
  • Discomfort.
  • Safety concerns.

But a new generation of brands like Megabus, Bolt Bus and Vamoose are changing the way intracity bus service is delivered, and attracting daily riders by the tens of thousands.

To overcome the concerns that have kept people off buses for the past decade, these brands have also upgraded their service with:

  • Newer buses.
  • More professional drivers.
  • Pick up points that don’t scare off professional people.

These new brands are also going head-to-head with trains and planes to offer travelers services that meet or beat the standards of air and train travel, including:

  • Free wi-fi.
  • Power outlets for laptops.
  • Lower pricesRewards programs for frequent travelers.
  • More convenient schedules.
  • More leg room.
  • Reminders of how eco-friendly modern buses are.
  • Using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to dialogue with their customers.

Are you the marketer of a travel or tourism brand in a segment of the industry that is stagnant or in decline?

If so, ask yourself what the revitalized bus travel industry could teach you about how to reinvent the way your customers view your travel or tourism brand.  Could you:

  • Make your product more cost-competitive?
  • Offer more choice and convenience?
  • Invest in newer technology and infrastructure?
  • Make your brand more directly competitive with newer categories?

That’s what the bus travel industry has taught us about brand revitalization. Tell us what you’ve learned from this or another industry. By the way, you’ll find Christine’s complete post here.

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Travel and leisure marketing: Are you taking advantage of the rise in same-day mobile bookings?

September 20, 2012

The Hotel Tonight app has been downloaded by more than 800,000 iPhone users.

A variety of new mobile tools and apps cater to procrastinators and locals

If your hotel or resort property’s website isn’t optimized for mobile, you could be losing out on the growing market for same-day bookings.

According to a recent story in USA Today, online travel agencies are introducing a rising number of booking tools and features geared towards people who book a room on the day of their stay.

The statistics indicate this phenomenon is not just a passing trend

  • 60% of mobile bookings on Priceline are for the same day
  • 65% of Orbitz’ mobile bookings are same-day reservations versus 14% for desktop computers
  • Marriott recently reported that 50% of its same-day bookings came through the mobile channel
  • More than 800,000 iPhone users have downloaded Hotel Tonight an app featuring daily hotel deals

Who are these people and why do they wait until the last day to book?

They include:

  • travelers who don’t like to plan
  • long-distance commuters working late
  • homeowners without electricity
  • travelers whose flight are cancelled
  • suburban deal seekers
  • couples celebrating anniversaries

Should your travel brand take advantage of this new trend?

  • Hotel Tonight reports that participating hotels like their service because they don’t have to commit a minimum number of rooms
  • Given that an average of 40% of rooms go unbooked each night, why wouldn’t you explore this new opportunity?

How much of your bookings are coming through same-day mobile reservations?

Tell us how this new trend is affecting your business and what you’ve learned so far.


5 ways your travel and leisure marketing can earn back the trust of women.

September 18, 2012

A study of women in 22 countries identified 5 ways brands are failing women, and 5 strategies to earn back their trust.

A landmark study found that women control 73% of household spending, but feel neglected by many brands.

Authors Michael and Kate Sayre, partners atBoston Consulting Group recently published a book: Women Want More: How to capture your share of the world’s largest, fastest growing market .

The landmark study upon which the book is based traced the attitudes and purchasing habits of 12,000 women in twenty-two countries.

The study found that women control 73% of household spending, and $4.3 trillion in consumer spending in the U.S. alone.

But it found that women the world over are dissatisfied with the products and services they buy. The reason?

Many companies don’t take the time to understand the issues modern women face, and create products that fail to meet their needs.

The authors found that women are having difficulty balancing all the roles they are called to play at home and in their job. They’re time-starved and stressed out.

And they  struggle to balance what the authors call “the job at the job and the job at home.”

The book reports that companies fail to meet the needs of women in five key ways:

  1. They are not addressing women’s need for time-saving solutions.
  2. They have poor product design and customization for women.
  3. Their sales and marketing efforts are clumsy and often insulting to women.
  4. They fail to align with women’s values or develop community.
  5. They don’t ‘give back’ to society as well or as much as they could.

The authors offer five ways that travel & leisure brands can earn the loyalty of women:

  1. Take the time to understand and tailor your product to their needs and values.
  2. Create products and services that save women time.
  3. Demonstrate your own values and commitment to the community.
  4. Empower your sales force to be more responsive.
  5. Offer 24/7 access to customer service, and product information that’s simple and easy to find

According to the study, women place a premium on the following values:

  • Love
  • Health
  • Honesty
  • Emotional Wellbeing.

Women want the brands they buy to understand those values, and offer them services that honor them.

According to Ms. Sayer, “Take care of those core values,and companies can really connect with women.”

How is your travel & leisure brand connecting with women? What changes have you made to reach better connect to women’s wants and needs? Talk to us.


Travel marketing: Before you put a QR code in your next travel ad, read this.

September 13, 2012

According to Forrester, only 5% of Americans surveyed actually scanned a QR code.

QR codes are showing up in all sorts of travel ads, but are they effective?

According to a Forrester Research, only 14 million Americans scanned QR codes in a recent 3-month period.

Their research found that only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones actually used the 2-D codes in a recent 3-month period.

And the majority of those 14 million early adopters were young, affluent males.

Ad Age recently interviewed some experts in the field and reported three reasons that QR codes haven’t caught on:

  1. People are confused about how to use them.
  2. There’s little uniformity among the apps that read them.
  3. Many of the codes link to useless information or to the company’s website.

Melissa Parish, Forrester’s senior analyst-social and mobile marketing had this to say:

QR codes are “another instance of shiny-object syndrome.  Something becomes trendy or sexy, and marketers feel they have to jump onboard to position themselves as innovative and make sure they don’t fall behind.”

If you want to increase the likelihood of prospective guests scanning your QR code consider the following:

  • Make the content you link the QR code to rewarding and valuable.
  • Make sure your QR code is readable.
  • Don’t post codes on billboards in areas with no internet access or poor cell phone coverage like subways or in-flight magazines.

For examples of how not to use QR codes, check out QR Blaster’s list of the worst campaigns of the year using QR codes.

And while you’re’ at it, tell us how you’ve used QR codes effectively. Or if you’re really brave, tell us how they haven’t worked for you.


Travel and leisure marketing: Is it time to re-think your policy on single travelers?

September 4, 2012

 

Solo travelers now account for over $28 billion in travel spending.

There are a lot more single Americans than you realize.  It’s time travel and hospitality marketers started catering to them.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans are single, and over 50 million Americans have never been married.

  • 105 million adults in the U.S., nearly one-third of all Americans, are single.
  • Almost 40% of the single population are divorced, and 60% have never been married.
  • Marriage rates have declined from 72% in 1960 to just 52% in 2008.

Recently, Gary Leopold, CEO of ISM, one of the top travel and hospitality marketing firms in the U.S., explored the subject of solo travelers in a blog post for Media Post.

According to Gary, the statistics on singles travel spending are staggering.

  • Singles account for $2.2 trillion in annual buying power.
  • 1 in 4 Americans who travel domestically or abroad now do so alone.
  • 25 million singles age 42 or older spent over $28 billion on travel in 2008.

Women are more likely than men to travel alone.

  • According to Gary, women aged 42 or older are twice as likely as men to vacation alone.
  • More than 80% of Match.com users listed travel as one of their interests.

A few travel and hospitality markers are taking advantage of this trend.

  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched a ship, Epic, that has 128 “studio” suites and a private lounge designed for the single traveler.
  • Some of the all-inclusive resorts like Breezes have packages just for singles.
  • REI Adventures partners with Match.com to offer adventure travel trips to singles.

I did a Google search on the keywords “singles travel” and found dozens of  singles travel specialists.

They’re focused on a wide variety of singles travel niches, including:

  • Cruises
  • Adventure travel
  • Over 40s travelers
  • Luxury travel
  • Jewish Singles
  • Singles Travel Clubs

It’s harder to find restaurant chains and other hospitality brands that cater to singles.

That surprises me, since the mothers of newly graduated 20 somethings and recently divorced adult children will tell you they eat out more than their married brothers and sisters.

What you can do to attract singles to your travel or hospitality brand

  • You can start by developing packages and promotions just for singles.
  • If you’re a travel brand, experiment with eliminating your use of single supplements.
  • When marketing to singles, stop pricing on a per person/double occupancy basis.
  • If you’re a restaurant, consider a singles’ menu and options for people who don’t cook at home.

What are you doing to reach the single traveler or diner?

Have you tried special packages or offers? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Tell us about it.


Travel and leisure marketing: 5 sites that are changing the way travelers shop.

August 30, 2012

Several websites and apps are helping reinvent the travel space.

If you’re a travel marketer, it’s important to understand how these sites are changing the travel game, and how you can use them to attract new guests and gather competitive intelligence.

Here are five fast-growing concepts leading travel experts say are leading us into the future.

1. HotelTonight is an iPhone and Android app that delivers day of booking hotel discounts.

The app gives consumers the ability to book a hotel the same day they need it, at a steeply discounted rate.

The site partners with hotels with too much inventory to fill open rooms with last-minute guests, and save them up to 70% off the hotel price.

Implication for travel marketers: If you’re a hotelier, consider partnering with HotelTonight to sell out your remaining day-of inventory.

2. Backbid allows travelers with a flexible hotel reservation to solicit other hoteliers for better deals.

They post their reservation on the site and wait to see if other hotels will offer them a lower rate or incentives to move a booking over to the second hotel.

Implication for travel marketers: This site gives you an opportunity to see the rates your competitors are offering in real-time, and decide if you want to beat them.

3. Room 77 is built on the philosophy that you should be able to choose a room in a hotel like a seat on an airplane.

Room 77 offers you the chance to see what rooms look like in a hotel and instructs visitors on how to book that exact room. So far, they have well over half a million room sin their database.

Implication for travel marketers: This is one more site to showcase your property and market your inventory to savvy travelers. 

4. Hipmunk is a new flight metasearch site that takes travel planning to the granular level.

In their own words, the site”takes the agony out of travel planning” by giving you more information on your flight.

For instance, if you like to sleep on the airplane, you can find out which ones will be “dark flights.” It also displays in as simple a format as you can get, the flights that are cheapest, quickest, and have the shortest stopovers.

Implications for travel marketers: This is just one more example of how much detail travelers now want in their searches. Look for ways to provide more detailed searches on your site.

5. Gogobot  is built on the belief that people want travel advice from people they trust.

So it offers travelers tips and advice from a member’s network of family, friends and business colleagues.

Implications for travel marketers:  The Gogobot phenomenon proves that people are using social media to make more and more of their travel decisions.

Make sure you’re monitoring social sites like this and responding to both positive and negative comments.

Thanks to EyeforTravel for identifying these sites for their North American Innovation Award. By the way, HotelTonight won, and Hipmunk was the runner up!


A few statistics on how travel brands are using social media to boost ROI (infographic)

August 22, 2012

Thought you would enjoy this infographic on social media created by the travel experts at Simplifying and EyeforTravel.

Before we show it to you, here are a few statistics on social media Simpliflying didn’t want you to miss:

  • Travel marketers surveyed revealed that using social media reduced PR costs by at least 24%.
  • Most companies in the travel industry are spending over 25% of their marketing budget on social media.
  • 61% of companies surveyed will spend more money on social media efforts over the next quarter.
  • Interestingly, social media is being seen as a viable way to drive customer loyalty given that almost82% of frequent flyers use Facebook and place the most importance on great customer service.
  • Airlines are increasingly taking to performing customer service on social media as almost 86% of tweets to airlines are about customer service issues.
  • There’s an increasing investment in social media platforms to engage customers. About 191 airlinesnow have Twitter accounts and tweets sent out by airlines increased by over 51% from March 2011 to July 2011.

Credits: Simplifyling and EyeforTravel


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