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.

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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!


Travel and leisure marketing: 15 twitter tips for tourism destinations

August 28, 2012

The Grand Junction, CO VCB drives visitors to local URLs.

These 15 twitter tips are designed to help tourism destinations develop a more effective twitter strategy. And ultimately to drive traffic to your website.

A Couple of Chicks, a savvy Canadian e-marketing agency whose mission is to take the fear out of web marketing, recently posted some practical twitter tips for tourism destinations.

1. Use Twitter to increase site visits. Google indexes twitter feeds and drives traffic to your website!

2. Strategize. Plan ahead with an editorial schedule to tie in with planned events, promotions, etc.

3. Be consistent with profile information i.e. using brand “http://www.twitter.com/acoupleofchicks” or “http://twitter.com/HfxNovaScotia” as name, URL, descriptor.

4. Use your ‘brand’ as graphic background; see ex: http://twitter.com/BayOfFundy.

5. Use the 3&3 rule: Three tweets and three re-tweets per day.

6. Tweet smart: Tweet at different times throughout the day; use ‘pending tweets’ functionality to schedule tweets outside of your work day but in time zones relevant to potential target audiences.

7. Use auto-welcomes i.e. “Thank you for following Tourism Fredericton – your source for things to do in Fredericton, the Capital of New Brunswick. Want to find out what’s happening? Check out our other Twitter feeds….”

8. Tweet using your targeted keywords.

9. Use pics and website URL’s (remember to use URL shorteners like tinyurl.com).

10. Proper Twitter etiquette is to follow those who follow you, but be cautious of “cleaning” your list of who you follow regularly.

11. Follow your competitors and their followers.

12. Engage with your audience: Differentiate yourselves from broadcasters and be rich content providers.

13. Link to your Twitter feeds (& show them on your site) from all that you do online & offline; see: http://www.travelportland.com/visitors/twitter.html andhttp://www.halifaxsociable.com

14. Follow other DMO’s or destinations and don’t be afraid of some back and forth conversation.

15. Follow partners in your communities: Reach out and engage with hotels, attractions etc… that are already on twitter.

Those are the do’s of destination tourism tweeting.  Read about the don’ts in their original post. Thanks to a Couple of Chicks!


Travel and tourism marketing: 6 resources to help you improve your online review rankings

August 24, 2012

If guests like you, ask them to share that love with other travelers.

How to ask for reviews, get more and better reviews, improve your rankings on review sites, and more

Last week I wrote about the importance of paying attention to your rankings in online review sites.

This week I’ve assembled some of my favorite content explaining the value of online reviews, how they work and how to improve yours. Here goes…

1. Why hotels should encourage guests to leave more online reviews

Anil Aggarwal, CEO, Milestone Internet Marketing explains the importance of online reviews to a hotel property’s success, and how to use online reviews to benchmark how you’re doing versus competitors.

2. Five Basic Guidelines for managing your hotel’s online reputation

This post in Hotelier is one of the most succinct overviews of the subject of online reviews, and offers some good suggestions for developing a systematic approach to responding to online reviews.

3. How to respond to online reviews

Explains the dos and don’ts of responding to online reviews, is comprehensive in its approach, and provides some unconventional ideas on how you can respond to negative reviews.

4. How to improve your hotel rankings in TripAdvisor

If you want a good explanation of how TripAdvisor’s Popularity Index works, and how you can affect your Popularity Index scores, read this post.

5. Increasing direct hotel bookings with social media

Joshua McKenzie from ReviewPro focuses on how online reviews can help your search rankings and increasing sales conversion rates by increasing consumer confidence.

In particular, Joshua offers a number of novel suggestions for using online reviews to keep people on your website longer.

6. How hotels can increase the volume of their reviews

If you’ve always wondered how and when to ask guests for reviews, read this ReviewPro report.

It also offers excellent case studies on how hotels have successfully increased their reviews using some of the recommended techniques.

What have you learned about online review sites, and how to manage your online reputation? Share your experience with us.


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


Travel and leisure marketing: Are Americans suffering from vacation deprivation?

August 20, 2012

Compared to adults in other countries, US citizens take a lot less vacation. Is there an opportunity for your travel or leisure brand?

It’s not news that since the start of the Great Recession,  Americans are taking shorter trips closer to home.

But did you know Americans take a lot less vacation than workers in other countries?

And they need their travel and leisure brands to pack more relaxation or excitement into less time.

Every year for the past decade, Expedia has surveyed employed adults in countries all over the world as part of its International Vacation Deprivation Survey.

The results of the latest survey tell a lot about why so many Americans are stressed out and in need of more leisure time.

Employed adults in the U.S. get less than half of the vacation time as workers in other Western countries.

  • Americans receive an average of 13 days of vacation a year.
  • By comparison, Canadians average 19 days per year.
  • Workers in Great Britain get 26 days a year.
  • Germans take 28 days a year.
  • But the biggest winners are French workers, who average 38 vacation days per year.

Not only do we get less vacation, we enjoy it less, too.

  • 4 in 10 Americans take only one week of vacation, and then use the rest here and there.
  • 3 in 10 employed adults usually do not take all of their vacation days each year.
  • A quarter of all respondents reported checking work email or voicemail while vacationing.
  • 4 in 10 report having trouble coping with stress at some point during their vacation.
  • 2 in 10 adults reported canceling or postponing a vacation because of work.

The funny thing is Americans see the benefits of taking time off.

  • In the study, 1 in 3 American adults reported feeling better about their job after a vacation.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back from vacation feeling rejuvenated.
  • 1 in 2 say they come back feeling reconnected with their families.

Men and women have different attitudes about work and vacation time.

  • Men are more likely to regularly work more than 40 hours a week (44% of men vs. 29% of women).
  • Men are also more likely to take a 2-week vacation then women (12% of men vs. 8% of women).
  • Women are more likely to feel guilty about taking time off from work (40% of women vs. 29% of men).

The only countries that leave more unused vacation days are the Japanese and Italians.

  • American workers average 3 unused vacation days a year.
  • By comparison, the British, French and Germans don’t use 1-2 days.
  • Italian workers leave an average of 6 vacation days (out of 27), while the Japanese leave 7 (out of 15).

Courtesy of Expedia Vacation Deprivation Survey

How can your travel or leisure brand can capitalize on this trend:

  • Can your brand offer people a better escape in less time?
  • Can your guests cram more activities into fewer days, or enjoy a more complete escape?
  • Should you put  together all-inclusive and short-term vacation packages?
  • Maybe you market your property as a cell-free or email free zone.

What are you doing to attract the vacation-starved American traveler?  Tell us about it.


Destination marketing: Higher taxes are no way to treat a guest.

August 17, 2012

Are travel taxes taking too big a bite out of your guests’ wallets?

A study by the U.S. Travel Association has raised new concerns that high travel taxes are affecting travel habits. 

Is it time to re-think your attitude on travel taxes?

In an era of declining tax revenues, travelers are considered an easy target by local, county and state governments.

But according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, public officials need to think of travelers as important contributors to local businesses and jobs.

According to Dow,”Few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy.”

To help, the USTA announced a study of consumer attitudes by its  Travel Tax Institute.

The research reveals that taxation has a clear impact on travel planning and spending decisions. Among the key findings:

  • High Taxes Alter Travel Plans: 49% of travelers say that high travel taxes have caused them to stay at less expensive hotels, spend less on shopping and entertainment, and visit during the off-season.
  • Taxes on Hotels, Airfare High: 68% of travelers rated hotel taxes as “very high” (35%) or “high” (33%); 66% rated taxes on airfare as “very high” (38%) or “high” (28%).
  • Rental Car Taxes Much Too High: Nearly two out of three travelers surveyed (64%) say that the total tax rate on rental cars is “much more” than they expected to pay.
  • Travelers See Taxes Rising: Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they expect to pay higher travel taxes in the year ahead; only two percent believe taxes will decrease.
  • Travel Taxes Should Fund Travel Infrastructure: 60% of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports.

Another 49% said “travel/tourism marketing and promotion” also would be an appropriate use of the revenues.

Only 14% cited “non-travel related expenditures” such as “contributions to government general funds” as an “appropriate” use of travel taxes

What do you think? Are high travel taxes affecting your guest’s decisions?

What are you doing about it? We’d love to hear your take on this important issue.

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