Although currently in the peak sales period for the travel industry, it’s important to recognise that the rate of digital sales growth within the UK market is set to slow in both 2016 and 2017.

Digital marketers face a new challenge in 2016 and with 80% of travel bookings taking place online, it has never been more vital to effectively target consumers online.

To be successful in 2016, travel brands need to know where and when to reach their customers. This should be done by ensuring that valuable online customer journey data underpins digital marketing strategies.

There are three ways marketers can benefit from understanding user purchasing behaviour: reaching a new type of travel customer, strengthening the mobile experience and streamlining activities to effectively meet objectives.

Reaching a new type of travel customer

Travel customers shop differently to those in other sectors. Tradedoubler User Journey insights, based on the analysis of eight million sales across a variety of sectors, found that the typical sales funnel (across all industries) follows a monthly trend. However, the travel sector’s sales funnel follows a week trend.

Based on data insights, we know that travel sales peak over the weekend, therefore, promotions should start on a Monday with the aim of converting consumers on the weekend. By the weekend customers have already decided which channel they are going to buy from, consequently, if you haven’t engaged with that customer at the start of the week, you’ve lost the sale.

The average travel purchase occurs five days, 21 hours and 30 minutes after the first click, 33% quicker than the average online sale. Travel customers also visit more websites on average, but their journeys involve just five clicks, which is 79% less than the average across all sectors.

The online travel booking customer of today is also no longer a tourist but rather a traveller. They are now much more likely to read blogs and social media accounts from ‘independent’ travellers than read the type of carefully curated content which was prevalent a few years ago. Brands need to talk to consumers in the correct tone of voice for the destination they are looking to visit that matches their needs and requirements.

It’s important that brands are using this user insight to target this new customer with the right content, in the right place at the right time and on the right device.

The rise of mobile

A second standout way to ensure success in 2016 is to prioritise mobile strategies.

Our User Journey insights show that people browse on multiple devices during the week, but tablets are the device of choice on which to complete a purchase during the weekend — with 26% more sales conducted on them as opposed to computers.

Mobiles have significantly changed the behaviour of consumers. 67% of leisure customers and 78% of business travellers use a mobile in the travel purchase journey at some point, which means that the mobile web experience must be seamless and coordinated with all wider digital marketing strategies.

Meeting objectives

In order to gain benefits from this knowledge, clear digital marketing objectives need to be in place. What we’ve been doing wrong for so long is just having one goal and one key performance indicator (KPI) — ‘get more sales’.

We are now able to work out the optimal online user journey to deliver on specific KPIs. Travel organisations must be really clear and have an effective plan in place to ensure they are focused on what it is they want to achieve and within what timeframe, to tailor their digital marketing strategies.

If you’re looking to focus on high order values the time to target is not Saturday or Sunday. Budgets would be better spent on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. You still need to be doing the work to convert them over the weekend, but if that is your only focus, you are wasting your budget.

To be successful in 2016 and maximise effectiveness in an increasingly competitive market, travel brands need to know where and when to reach their customers and this can be accomplished by utilising user journey insights.

Organisations need to be more focused in order to keep people interested. We need to move to the next level and look at users and user behaviour more closely. By doing so, brands can ensure they are agile in communicating with the evolving traveller of 2016. 

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