The tourism and hospitality industries are experiencing first-hand the impact brought about by breakthrough developments in the digital world. While the Internet has been extremely effective in streamlining business processes across diverse fields (such as e-commerce websites cutting out the middleman by offering products directly to consumers), it has also transformed the travel industry into a messy, crowded marketplace where competition is stiff. Today, every travel agency is striving to stay competitive – in certain cases, just simply trying to stay afloat – by employing all forms of digital marketing techniques. As a travel agent, you are not only competing for leads (would-be travelers) but also with airlines and hotel chains which are offering competing travel and vacation packages directly on their websites. In order to be able to stay in the rat race for travelers’ share of wallet, one must have a robust digital marketing strategy.
To remain competitive in today’s highly digitalized world, businesses in the travel industry are always on the lookout for the latest, most efficient and most effective ways to reach out to their target audience. At the same time, they want to be able to have the ability to tailor their products and service offerings in a way that is most palatable for their intended customer base. So, what benefits can digital marketing offer that can be enjoyed by travel agencies?
Online Self-service Booking
Any digital marketing agency, be it in Singapore or in any other part of the world, would advise you that the proliferation of online hotel and destination bookings has had and will continue to have a major impact on the hotel and travel industries. Today’s web-savvy customers who wish to book a trip do not need to visit an agency as they would have done previously; now, they can in the comfort of home or office go online to book their trips easily and conveniently. Furthermore, with internet-ready smart mobile devices and the high penetration of such gadgets in Singapore, the average consumer is even more digitally empowered to utilize this channel to book airplane tickets and hotel rooms.
Of late, there is even an emerging but growing trend of mobile-only travel agencies (MTA) which allow travelers to book tickets via downloadable mobile apps. Based on the current rate of digitalization in the travel industry as well as its projected growth, brick-and-mortar travel agencies which have traditionally relied on walk-in customers are now confronted with the dismal prospect of being forced out of business. To stay relevant and competitive in this dynamic market, every travel agency must have – or start looking at deploying one, if they have not done so already – some form of online booking portal where customers can visit anytime, anywhere to learn more about its offerings and hopefully, book a trip to a destination of their choice.
Digitalization Provides Better Organization
While computers have always been integral components of a travel agency’s operations, there are many more ways in which travel agencies can benefit the digital innovations accrued from today’s information age. For instance, digitalization allows information to be stored and analyzed efficiently – data is king, and knowing exactly what is happening in and to the business can help the travel agency formulate better business decisions. The results from such analytical work can then be disseminated across diverse geographical locations with great ease. There are many enterprise-grade software applications which will imbue travel agents with the capability to store, organize and manage their data more efficiently.
Communication and Coordination
Innovations in digital communication technology have revolutionized the way in which travel agencies communicate with both internal and external parties, such as customers and business partners. High-speed, reliable and affordable internet connections have allowed travel agencies in Singapore to communicate via video, voice and / or text with other parties across the globe easily. In fact, it is more cost-effective to communicate digitally than to rely on traditional means such as the telephone. Data between customers and travel industry players (hotels, airlines, service providers et cetera) can be readily exchanged using digital channels, such as email and social media profiles. The reduced expenses and ease in which buyers and sellers can communicate help keep costs low for all (operating expense for the sellers, purchase prices for the buyers), while allowing bookings and coordination work to be performed more efficiently and with dramatically lesser waiting times.
Every traveler, while planning for his or her next trip, would usually find out more about the destination. In this aspect, the experiences of those who have already visited the place in question will be of tremendous help to preparing in would-be visitor. Travel agencies can capitalize on this behavior by using content marketing to promote their services. For example, you can create a blog where would-be visitors can read about the beautiful destinations that your agency is marketing. You can simply write the content yourself, or encourage customers to pen guest posts about their individual experiences.
Social Media Marketing
Have you ever noticed how almost everyone who goes on a vacation, post holiday photos on their Facebook profiles? It has become an unwritten rule for anyone who has been abroad recently to brag about his or her trip on social media. Exotic places of interest, exquisite cuisine, and alluring culture are just some of the things that travelers capture as they trot around the globe. This behavioral trait can be exploited to help market your agency on social media. All you need to do is to build an attractive page on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instragram, then get people to share their vacation stories through videos and photos. These pages can be useful in two-folds: first, they help to promote your agency’s special deals and secondly, the testimonials from satisfied customers also build credibility. In the world where differentiation matters, being reputable and trustworthy goes a long way in attracting new customers for your business.
Successful travel agencies deploy a multi-pronged approach in reaching out to and expanding its repertoire of customers, by embracing and deploying digital marketing strategies such as SEO and paid search. Analyzing how people purchase and consume travel services, as well as encouraging travelers to share their experiences after the trip, can help generate insights which the agency can use to recognize customer needs. This understanding can then be incorporated into the agency’s strategy, allowing the agency to align and tailor its offerings to match customer expectations. A travel agency which collaborates with an experienced digital marketing agency, well-versed in executing digital marketing strategies for the travel industry, will definitely gain an edge over its competitors.