How Marketing Automation Helps the Travel Industry

Although marketing automation has been shown to be a useful tool for just about every industry, from small businesses to technology, marketing and many others, it offers unique benefits for each industry. In retail business for example, automation helps stores source and retain customers through targeted campaigns designed to improve the sales experience. In the travel industry, marketing automation can be especially useful, allowing travel and tour business of all sizes reach travellers on a deeper level.

One of the most important things that continues to impact the travel industry is the rise of Big Data. Gartner gives the following definition for the growing trend of data: “Big Data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.”

This is particularly relevant within the travel industry, which relies heavily on people, information, content and timing. As travellers continue to seek content that they trust, smart travel businesses are seeking ways to invest in tools that allow them to take advantage of analytics. Businesses that are able to identify travellers across multiple channels and devices in a way that boosts targeted marketing as well as customer journey will be able to see just how much Big Data can help within this competitive industry.

The modern traveller is more informed than ever before, especially compared to previous generations that did not have access to smartphones, email and the internet. American Express did a study titled The American Express Future of Travel and the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. In this study, they found that 70% of millennials would prefer a personalized travel experience rather than a pre-packaged trip. In the same study, 89% of all respondents, regardless of age, stated that personalised itineraries were far more appealing than one size fits all itineraries.

To show just how important marketing automation can be for the travel industry, consider the case of an airline that was focused on building relationships through targeted messages that were sent at all stages of their customer journey. This enabled the airline to deliver the kind of information that customers genuinely wanted to see. Not only did this help to improve customer relations however, it also helped to reduce acquisition costs as well.

Using the airline example, the company in question gathered data about each customer over the course of their life cycle, from the very first encounter to their most recent visit. Through this data, by segmenting and creating highly targeted messages, they were able to separate new leads from repeat customers. This in turn made the acquisition targeting far more efficient. This also enabled the airline to upsell and cross-sell with targeted offers as well.

With the above examples in mind, it comes as no surprise that more travel companies than ever are focusing on ways to create targeted, personalised campaigns.

Marketing Automation for Travel and Leisure Businesses

Smart travel companies are taking advantage of marketing automation and its many benefits, through highly targeted, personalised email campaigns that are triggered by behaviour. As marketing automation software makes it easy to send out relevant, personalised emails and create lead funnels, there are many opportunities to reach travellers at various stages. From the moment they arrive on the site and subscribe, to the moment they abandon a cart, purchase a ticket, book a hotel, book a tour or complete an action, and even well beyond their travel experience, travel companies can reach travellers with carefully planned messages. Countless studies indicate that these types of emails typically have a far greater chance of being opened and clicked, which in turn increases the odds of sales.

Wondering what sort of marketing automation emails work best for travel businesses? Let’s take a look:

Welcome emails.
This email is often your company’s very first interaction with a new subscriber. As such, it is vital that your welcome email is useful, appealing and interesting. A welcome email that does not provide any real value is a wasted opportunity to begin your customer’s journey to conversion. A well-designed email that is personalised, with relevant information that will help your customer find their way around your site (and hopefully book that hotel/flight/tour) is essential. This email should be image-based, with tips on how to get started, and perhaps a special welcome offer.

Abandoned cart emails.
This type of email is highly important. Considering that the majority of customers will abandon their cart when browsing services online, it is vital to reach customers before they are lost forever. With this email, you are essentially offering customers one last chance. You could offer a discount or coupon, show them similar offers, show them the broader category that they were browsing on your site or gently remind them that they have not completed their checkout. There are many ways to create a successful email of this nature. View our tips on how to get the most from abandoned cart emails to find some inspiration and learn more about how these emails work.

Local weather triggered emails.
One way to target travellers is to create a visual hint of what they could enjoy on holiday. By using seasons and real time weather, you can entice your customers with messages inviting them to escape the heat to a snowy destination, or get away from the cold winter with a tropical getaway. These are effective for abandoned cart emails, reminders or even post-booking emails that upsell or offer tips on customer destinations.

Limited time offer emails.
Limited time offers are a good incentive to get people to book – especially during times that travel is more popular. National holidays, school holidays, summer and spring are all just some example. These emails work well with aspirational content and images, along with countdown timers that add a sense of urgency. To ensure that these emails are even more effective, they should automatically update with a new offer if opened after a specified date. This is a great way to remind, nudge and gentle promote packages.

Upselling emails.
Upselling emails are also an effective tool. What makes these useful in your marketing automation campaign is that they require only the most basic of data. Even if you do not have much data beyond the customer email address and their chosen destination, you can offer add-ons such as travel insurance, car hire, currency exchange, or tours. By focusing on the things that most customers would use, you can trigger these emails for a few days after their initial purchase.

Pre-arrival emails.
You can also go one step further by creating emails that help your customers get around during their holiday. These emails could include useful information relating to their destination, such as tips on where to eat, what to do, where to go, what the weather will be like, what languages are spoken (and a few travel phrases), what to pack and anything else that could be useful. This is especially good for customer retention.

Post-booking emails.
You can also create emails for after your customer has returned. This type of email is also good for customer retention, helping to create a high level of service. You can create personas for your customers at this point, and customers reveal a lot more than they may have before booking. This in turn helps you create even more personalised offers.

Anniversary emails.
Finally, you can also send out emails a year after their booking. By automating an anniversary email, you can offer a special deal, or remind customers of your outstanding service. Steps like these also help spread the word, leading to customer referrals. Even if they simply keep your company front of mind, they will offer real value. Make sure that you only include happy customers in this list however… you won’t want to remind unhappy customers of a bad experience.

Looking for help in getting started with marketing automation for your travel business? Contact Grapevine today to learn more about our innovative marketing automation solutions for business of all sizes.

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