Rollout the Red Carpet for Travel Shoppers

As travel sellers, we need to be ever mindful that we’re in the hospitality business. We should roll out the red carpet, not just when our guests arrive at our properties, but at the very start of the purchase decision itself.

Too often we get that wrong.

I mean, how many of us really like those ubiquitous pop-up forms that insist we to sign-up for more promotional emails?

Even, our call to action, “Book Now,” is a bit transactional, and in most cases, even a tad presumptuous.  After all, more than 85% of the people who visit our websites are just shopping and still want to consider alternative destinations; confer with family and friends, and figure out what best fits their schedules and budgets.

For most people, a travel purchase is not just a transaction, it’s part of the journey itself.

In fact, Expedia claims that U.S. vacation shoppers spend an astounding 8.7 billion minutes per month browsing travel websites.  A typical vacation shopper goes through an average of 19 different online touchpoints before making a booking, according to HeBS Digital.

If we want to convert more “lookers” into “bookers,” our job is to escort our guests through their purchase decision experience from the start.

Some of the big hotel and airline companies have retooled their marketing, revenue management and IT departments around this task of managing the customer journey, accompanied by multi-million dollar investments in big-data platforms.  (For more about this, read the Eye-For-Travel report in the Other Voices section on the right.)

But your travel company doesn’t have to start there.  Begin by being as personal, friendly and on-brand as possible.

Step One:  Go through your current website and make sure all your messaging makes sense and is “on-brand.”  One travel site thanked me for registering with “Your account has been successfully created. You may now login using your new credentials.” My what?

Another, at the end of the booking process, demanded a $1,000 deposit on a perfunctory invoice screen which I found a bit off-putting.  Reiterating all the good things that were included in my fare would have made a $1,000 deposit a much easier pill to swallow.

Well Done: Disney Cruises does a nice job of keeping price and benefits messages together.

Step Two:  Go ahead and ask for the booking, but if the guest isn’t ready, follow-up with a friendly reminder on the same day.  Travel companies who are using booking abandon messages say they are the most effective emails in their entire marketing arsenal.

Step Three:  Be patient, make sure to continue your dialog with a pre-planned series of personalized and relevant follow-up communications that will keep your company top of mind as your prospective guests continue along their purchase decision journey.  It could take up to three weeks, or even more.

How many of us have walked into a store to browse but have retreated out the door when faced by an overly eager sales person who appears too anxious to close a sale?

I fear that’s happening too often on our travel websites as well.

The Art of Selling Travel blog is published by Peak Revenue Performance, Inc., 560 West 51 Terrace, Miami Beach, Florida, USA, 33140.
Copyright 2017, Peak Revenue Performance, Inc.

Adam Snitzer, Principal

Adam is an international pricing and revenue optimization consultant. His strategies have helped travel companies grow, open new markets, launch new products and counter competitive threats. Adam has generated more than $500 million of incremental value for his employers and consulting clients.

How to attract more guests, who book earlier and at higher prices.
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Other Voices

From Google: Even though it’s a couple years old, this report is the best I’ve seen about how people use online tools to make travel decisions.

From Eye-For-Travel: This fascinating video explains how Hilton is organizing business processes around creating more personalized guest experiences.

From SaleCycle: This survey explains where and why people abandon their online booking.