Ahead of his appearance at our Digital Travel and Leisure Conference on the 28th March, Callum Reckless, MD, Reckless, spoke to Figaro Digital about some of the key challenges that marketers are facing in the industry.
Why do you think it is that travel sites are slower to load? How can marketers overcome this obstacle?
CR: The need to aggregate a large amount of data from various sources and perhaps through a number of third party APIs isn’t a straightforward task and likely increases load times on many travel websites. In our analysis of fifty sites in the tourism industry, we found that the average site load time was 3.84 seconds, early a full second outside of the top 50 per cent. It’s hard to analyse whether the average of one extra second will really have the same impact on conversion rates. To combat the possibility, however, marketers should look to really understand customer behaviour to shape their future engagements with users. More targeted interactions shorten the user journey, lower waiting times and improve conversion rates.
What’s the most effective way for travel brands to capitalise on their narrow window of opportunity for each consumer?
CR: For me, digital only really performs when it understands who it’s talking to. What do we know about the user, how can we use this information to tailor their user experience, delivering the right message to the right person, at the right time. Many travel brands will enjoy recurring visits to their sites, how the brands use previous customer behaviour to shape the next interaction can really help boost customer engagement. If you know I usually book a hotel in London, within a certain area or price bracket then why not lead with these suggestions. Ultimately, people are increasingly time poor. The more brands can do to tailor the customer experience and improve relevancy, the higher conversion rates will be, and the more brands will be valued by consumers.
What role can added value content play in conversions in the tourism industry?
CR: Let’s face it, travel sites are pretty commoditised (I’m talking booking engines etc.) A few have some loyalty programmes which help to add value and boost retention, but content could really play a key part in adding value and increasing revenue. A recent study by The Content Marketing Institute found that 56 per cent of marketers believe that personalised content promotes higher engagement rates. This is a really key solution, since content marketing costs 62 per cent less than outbound marketing, and generates about 3 times as many leads. The numbers don’t lie.
Away from revenue, personalised content also allows a marketer to keep users engaged when not on your site. Consumers don’t care about you and your product/service, they care about their needs and wants. Content which serves their needs gives you a way to keep consumers closer to you and keeps your brand front of mind, ultimately increasing future conversions and wallet share.
What’s the best way for travel brands to utilise a customer journey timeline to maximise leads?
CR: We talk a lot about delivering the right message to the right user at the right time. This leads to an increase in engagement and revenue but to do this you need to understand who you’re talking to and where they are in the purchase cycle. The first thing travel brands must do is to map out the on and off-site customer journeys for their various user personas. This will help to identify the various touch points that they have with their customers, what the objectives are at each stage and therefore reveal where they can nurture the relationship to nudge them to the next stage in the journey.
Once you understand the touch points and customer segments we’d always recommend utilising one of the many tools out there that can help you to automate your ongoing engagement plan. Through monitoring the reaction to your various interactions we can then move consumers through the journey, ultimately pushing them through to purchase, moving into retention and eventually turning them into ambassadors. Ultimately, it all comes down to understanding the customer needs at that time.