Just when we feel like we've got social media sussed (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – check, check, check) along comes a new wave of channels such as Snapchat. And just when you thought that a mobile-optimised site was a nice-to-have you realise it is a must-have. Any of this ring true with you? Ever feel you are taking one step forward and two steps back with your digital strategy? If so, you are not alone.
But before you put your head in your hands and wail, 'when will it all end?' take a moment to consider these tips to keep your digital strategy ahead of (and not behind) the times...
Where else would we start? If you listen to the predictions (and you'd be wise to) more than 30 million customers will make purchases via their smartphone this year. Consumers are using their mobile devices more and more – tablets for research and inspiration, mobiles for on-the-go bookings. A mobile-optimised website is a must, but so too is the content you share.
The rise of sites such as Zagat and OpenTable illustrates the potential attached to giving customers even more tailored, relevant and localised information. The big names in travel are moving towards being able to offer customers complete travel packages covering all the bases – food, tours, accommodation and more – something you need to bear in mind, at the very least.
Once upon a time travellers got certain extras free of charge. Of course, this is no longer the case, but travel companies shouldn't just see these extras as additional revenue. Instead, they need to focus on offering customers what they want, when they want it. This could be a meal brought to a customer's room after a delayed flight, or letting customers' know they can connect to WiFi any time of day or night.
The role of online advertising
Content marketing has been big news for some time and includes advertising as well as the usual array of websites, blogs, social media and email marketing. By experimenting with online advertising, marketers in the travel industry let customers see more targeted messages and purchase in real-time. Incorporate innovative advertising into your strategy and continue the story the rest of your content started.
Focus on the East
You need to be aware of the spending power of the Asian traveller. The average Chinese tourist spends more than £2,000 per trip (yes, that's per person) so cannot be overlooked. And with more Chinese travellers embarking on international travel, now is the time to tap into this lucrative market. If you take the time to understand this audience and identify what they are looking for in a holiday you will most certainly reap the rewards.
It is perfectly feasible that a traveller can research, book, check-in, complete their stay and then check out of a hotel without actually speaking to anyone in person. Mobile and social make this possible; they also allow that traveller to post a review of their stay online. It is essential that travel businesses recognise that there will always be some customers who want face-to-face contact and those who are happy to go it alone.