OPINION: Three travel marketing trends to drive bookings in 2020

Retro airplane in the sky with poster, flat design

Surrounded by picturesque beaches filled with fun-loving locals and a plethora of exotic animals, Australia is a bucket-list destination for many travellers. However, recent developments have put locals and potential visitors on edge.

Fires have ravaged massive areas, leaving a wake of destruction behind them. And late last year the Australian dollar hit a 10-year low, and consumer confidence levels plunged to the lowest level in the past four years.

Often, natural disasters to economic fears cause travellers to shelve their trips until conditions improve, and that’s where travel marketers must step in and step up to combat the perceptions.

Here are three travel marketing trends that will drive bookings in 2020:

1. Tell a compelling story

Telling a great story is the backbone is travel marketing. but in 2020, marketers must evolve their tactics. For example, video is one of the best ways to tell captivating stories that can be easily shared across channels, which is why it continues to grow. However, successfully reaching audiences requires more than just leveraging the right channel; travel marketers must tell the right story at the right time. And, to do so, they must know their audience.

Travelers often wear multiple hats. A single person may be both a business and leisure traveller, could book a luxury vacation on the heels of an economical trip, or may be researching a family trip and a romantic weekend away at the same time. Travellers are often planning multiple trips, each with different motivations, and they’re leaving behind digital clues that help marketers better understand what they need. By listening to those clues, marketers can serve up in-the-moment stories that spur consumers to action.

2. Create an always-on experience

In today’s world, travellers are constantly learning and researching new destinations, and marketers must be ready to deliver anytime and anywhere. Travellers are no longer just booking the summer family vacation or a trip for the holidays and, in the coming year, marketers must reach as many potential customers as possible when the time is right for them.

This always-on approach moves beyond seasonal campaigns and puts data at the heart of every endeavour. By taking advantage of existing data and technology to expand strategies, marketers can reach travellers with relevant messaging no matter where they are in their search. From there, they can test and learn, and use results to deploy seasonal campaigns paired with a continuous always-on marketing strategy.

3. Get social

For the past few years, social media spend has been trending up for travel marketers – don’t expect that to change in 2020. A recent report found that in 2019, ANZ travel marketers planned to use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for social advertising, while over half planned to incorporate Instagram and Facebook stories in the mix – and for good reason. Every day, more than a billion stories are shared across Instagram, Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp, further perpetuating the viral nature of social media.

It’s clear that social is important, but for travel marketers to truly drive bookings (and achieve ROI), they must be strategic. By focusing on specific audiences and taking a more targeted approach, not only can they hit potential travellers with the right message at the right time, they can ultimately spend less for better returns.

Travellers want curated experiences, which means they also want curated ads. With that in mind, travel marketers will be more data-driven than ever to uncover what social audiences really want.

In 2020, travel marketers have the opportunity to show potential travellers what Australia has to offer. By telling the right story, creating an always-on experience and leveraging social channels, marketers can capitalise on the 2020 trends to drive new bookings throughout the year.

This blog was written by Chris Greenwood, country manager for Australia and New Zealand at Sojern.

Image credit: iStock/walking-onstreet

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