Booking a holiday isn't what it used to be. There is still the same level of excitement and expectation for consumers, but there's no leafing through brochures or popping into the local high street travel agent to find out what deals are around. Of course, booking a holiday this way is still an option, but digital is playing an increasingly large role in the search.
With more and more holiday-makers turning to the Internet to make holiday plans, it is especially important for travel businesses to have a strong online presence. The sheer quantity of information available means that the average consumer will visit more than 20 websites before making a booking - looking for deals, destination information, and reviews. Here's how your business can compete with the best of them.
With so many people using their smartphones to access the Internet, having a mobile presence is a no-brainer. So too is working with mobile partners who are already delivering price comparison, loyalty and cashback to an engaged customer base.
Social platforms continue to offer a great way to engage customers through shared photos, videos and comments. What's more, travel review websites are more influential than the travel websites themselves. Not only does social activity create inspiration for travel, it also encourages loyalty in the long-term. And this is the key – it's a long-term strategy which should not be relied on to generate bookings in the short-term.
No business can afford to ignore Google. A number of online travel agencies have made substantial investments in Google ads to enhance their growth. From search engines to knowledge engines, these provide consumers with answers as well as links. Google Hotel Finder and Google Flights are just two examples of how much influence Google can have on the industry.
Today's consumer has an appetite for value. However, the use of price comparison sites is not just prompted by the desire to find a bargain, it has become a habitual part of the search. Your business's presence on these price comparison sites needs to be effective and make an impact.
There are always going to be new companies emerging, vying to become the next big thing in the online travel industry. Existing travel businesses need to be aware of these new developments and respond to them. Whether the competition is a new specialised online travel site (Blink by Groupon, for example) or one from an emerging market, if you know about them you can take steps to keep your competitive edge.
For smaller travel businesses competing with global travel heavy-weights, it can be a daunting task. However, despite being highly competitive, in many ways the travel industry can be a level playing field. Research shows that travel consumers can be a disloyal bunch, so any business with a strong digital presence and strategy has every chance of success.