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.


5 ways travel and tourism brands can market to the Hispanic traveler

September 25, 2012

Hispanics like to bring their families on business trips.

Travel Market Report recently interviewed Kelly McDonald, author of How to Market to People Not Like You on catering to the Hispanic traveler.

Although originally addressed to travel agents, Kelly’s recommendations are good advice for any travel and tourism marketer.

To understand why you should market to Hispanics, just look at the numbers

  • According to the 2010 census, Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the U.S.
  • There are 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S. and 1 in 4 of Americans under 18 are Hispanic.
  • The Hispanic population grew by 43% from 2000-2010, and accounted for 56% of the population growth in the U.S.

Here are 5 recommendations from Kelly on how travel and tourism marketers can help attract Hispanic travelers:

1. Make it operationally easy for Spanish-speaking guests to deal with your brand

  • Present a Spanish-language option for your website, even if it’s just FAQs.
  • Do the same for your phone answering system.
  • Many Hispanics are in service industries so they work late hours. Consider extending your hours to 8 pm on weekdays and opening on weekends.

2. Speak Spanish

  • This seems obvious, but what you may not know is that many English-speaking Hispanics prefer to speak in Spanish if the choice is given to them.
  • Make sure you have at least one Spanish-speaking reservations or information agent on staff. It’s important, too that they have good travel expertise and service skills.

3.  Develop expertise in what the Hispanic market wants and needs

  • Hispanics often bring family members on business trips, so cater to spouses and kid of the Hispanic business traveler.
  • Other trends in Hispanic travel include extended family and multigenerational travel and a love of shopping. Understand them and cater to them.
  • You can also cater your menu and service offerings to Hispanics. The Westin Hotel in San Antonio serves Mexican cookies in its afternoon tea time because American cookies are too sweet for their Mexican guests.

4. Market through social media

  • If your marketing budgets are limited, social media is an efficient way to reach Hispanics.
  • Hispanics spend a larger portion of their time on social sites than other ethnic groups.
  • They also trust what their friends say on social sites more than other groups.

5. Understand that Hispanics make decisions differently

  • Hispanics usually want to involve the whole family in the decision-making process. So your reservations and customer service reps need to be more patient and consultative.

Thanks to Nick Verrastro and the crew at Travel Market Report for this excellent advice.

How about you?  What are you doing to make your travel and tourism marketing more Hispanic-friendly?

The portrait of the U.S. leisure traveler is changing. Is your leisure marketing changing with it?

June 5, 2012
photo of couple on beach at sunset making heart shape with their arms

Americans love their leisure trips too much to give them up.

A recent study confirms that Americans are finding the money to take more leisure trips. But they are also finding new ways to save on those trips.

If your travel marketing program is targeted to the leisure traveler, we have good news.

According to the Ypartnership’s latest Portrait of American Travelers study, the U.S. leisure travel market is showing signs of stabilizing.

  • The average American leisure traveler took four overnight trips during the past year, and spent an average of $3,500 on travel services.
  • A net increase of 2% of leisure travelers expect to take more overnight trips in the coming year.
  • 11% more affluent households (HH income of $125K+) say they plan to increase their leisure trips this year.

Value will continue to be a popular travel trend.

  • 1 in 3 leisure travelers are waiting for items to go on sale before buying.
  • 1 in 3 are buying fewer “exclusive brands.”
  • Baby boomers, facing the double whammy of kids in college and elderly parents who need care, are cutting back more than other generations.

Leisure travelers are practicing a new resourcefulness.

  • Coupon use, buying generic brands and adjusting the time and location of one’s shopping to get lower prices continue to trend upward.
  • 8 in 10 leisure travelers rank the ability to check for the lowest fares and the lowest price guarantee as the two most important attributes of a travel services website.

Many leisure travelers are making more impulse travel buys, based on seeing a good deal.

  • 1 in 7 have purchased a travel service after receiving an unsolicited e-mail.
  • 4 in 10 who have responded to these e-mails have booked an entire vacation.
  • 3 in 10 leisure travelers have booked a last-minute vacation.

If you’re the marketer of a travel or attraction brand, you can take advantage of the changing habits of the leisure traveler by:

  • Offering more last minute deals.
  • Packaging those deals in e-mail offers.
  • Offering special coupons for shopping and attractions with your last-minute deals.

That’s what we’ve learned. Tell us how your travel or tourism brand is adjusting to the new realities of the post-recession traveler.

You can order the full Ypartnership report here.

Travel and tourism marketing: New research confirms importance of online reviews

March 16, 2012

6 in 10 travelers now rely on online reviews to help make their travel decisions.

More and more Americans are factoring in other travelers’ online reviews, and the more money they make the more they pay attention.

According to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index recently released by Mondial Assistance USA,  6 in 10 travelers now factor in other traveler’s online reviews when deciding where to book a vacation.

With vacation spending expected to be up in the coming year, the Index predicts traffic at popular travel review and social media websites will be up as well.

So it’s important you stay on top of what people are saying about your travel and tourism brand online. And to work to influence what people write about you online. Here are the survey results:

8 in 10 people with HH incomes of $75K+ are influenced by online reviews

  • Travelers under 35 are most likely to say that online travel reviews influence their travel plans (74 percent) while those 55 and over are least likely to be influenced by reviews (44 percent).
  • Nearly 79 percent of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more factor other travelers’ reviews into their own plans, while less than half of those with an income of under $25,000 do so (46 percent).

2 in 3 people trust other travelers’ reviews

  • Nearly two thirds of respondents (63 percent) find other travelers’ reviews to be trustworthy, while 29 percent are less trusting.
    • Travelers under 35 are more likely than those who are older to trust the travel reviews they read (70 percent vs. 54 percent).
    • Over three quarters of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more (77 percent) find travel reviews to be trustworthy compared to just half of those with an income of under $25,000 (50 percent).

1 in 5 share their travel experiences on social networks

  • Among travelers who share reviews of their travel experiences online (24 percent of respondents), social networking sites such as Facebook are most popular.
  • Nearly one in five (18 percent) say that they share their travel experiences on social networks, more than double the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (eight percent).

The younger and wealthier you are, the more you share on social sites

  • Adults under 35 are more likely than those who are 35+ to share their travel experiences online (35 percent vs. 20 percent), particularly on social media sites (29 percent vs. six percent).
  • More affluent adults are also more likely to share about their travels.  More than a third of those with a household income of $75,000 or more (36 percent) share their travel reviews online
  • Compare that to 15 percent of those with a household income of less than $25,000, and they are twice as likely to use social networks to do so (24 percent vs. 12 percent).

Next week, I’ll post my top 10 favorite articles on how to improve the volume and quality of your online reviews.

In the meantime, tell us how these findings match up with your experience.

Travel marketing: 6 ways you can take advantage of the $142 billion adventure travel market.

October 10, 2011

Adventure travelers spend a total of $142 billion annually on travel,  gear, apparel and accessories.

Adventure travel is more than three times the size of  the cruise market.  So how come your travel brand isn’t reaching out to this market?

A recent benchmark study conducted by George Washington University valued the adventure tourism market at $89 billion.

If you’re doing travel marketing for a destination brand, it’s time to reconsider the adventure traveler.

The Adventure Tourism Market Report conducted by George Washington University  in partnership with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), found that adventure travelers spent $89 billion excluding airfare and gear.

Here are 6 key findings from the study:

  1. If your brand involves physical activity, nature-based travel or cultural experiences, and is a soft or hard adventure (see definition below) you’re part of the adventure-travel economy.
  2. Nearly 150 million adventure trips are taken every year.
  3. Adventure travelers spent another $53 billion on gear, apparel and accessories for a total of $142 billion.
  4. By comparison, the cruise line world market share is estimated at $26.8 billion and the U.S. wine market at $30 billion annually.
  5. This market attracts environmentally and culturally aware consumers, and focuses on responsible and sustainable development.
  6. 26% of respondents took hard (backpacking, trekking, etc…) or soft adventure trips (birdwatching, safari, etc…)

6 ways can marketers of travel and leisure brands reach the adventure traveler:

  1. Adventure travelers plan their trips online, so the best way to reach them is through internet and social media.
  2. Create special content on your web and social sites that appeal specifically to this traveler, especially website navigation that directs them to photos and videos of activities and attractions just for them.
  3. Sponsor events that appeal to adventure travelers, and negotiate naming rights so your name is closely associated with the event.
  4. Identify adventure travel bloggers and magazines, and develop content that they will write about.
  5. Buy keywords related to adventure travel and direct them to a landing page on your site specifically populated with adventure travel content.
  6. Buy advertising in magazines that appeal to the adventure traveler.

Tell us what you’ve been doing to reach the adventure traveler. If you’d like to learn more about this market, you can read a snapshot of the report here.

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