This is the third post in a 3 part series on defining your customer journey and which marketing channels to use at each stage. Read more in Part I: From Discovery to Booking, and Part II: Choosing Channels
Now that you’ve considered all the different stages in your customer’s decision making process, it is time to match up tactics, strategies and channels to transition customers between stages.
Every brand is different. As you can imagine, a tourism board generating awareness for their island will not use the same channels as a resort driving bookings of a golf package. Here’s a quick overview of some of the channels and technology to consider at each stage.
Discovery & Inspiration:
With a huge audience hungry for visual inspiration, Pinterest is fast becoming an amazing source for discovery that also results in sales. Pinners are curating their must see destinations, accommodations and experiences with convenient visual bookmarks. (Read more on Pinterest for Travel brands)
Facebook & Instagram
Both social networks are highly visual. While users my fan and follow celebrities and brands, the vast majority of the organic (unpaid) content they view is from friends and family. Posting photos or raving about a trip/meal are firsthand recommendations from trusted peers.
Jauntaroo calls itself a “vacation matchmaker” and allows the user to select their nearest airport and a bunch of other preferences for their trip like weather, activities, budget and more. It allows the user to explore potential options through mini guides based on their needs and wants. The site also recommends certain vendors.
Travel Guides & Itineraries
Many sites such as Conde Naste Traveler and Fathom produce guides on various destinations. This type of content gives the reader a taste for what their vacation could be like. Content is organized based on how a traveler might be searching. For example, “Where to go in July” or “Recommended Beach Holidays”
A lot of the tools above have incredibly in depth content and information which will continue to be used throughout the exploration phase.
Tripadvisor (and similar sites)
Often a consumer’s first stop to help narrow choices, Tripadvisor is key source of information for many travellers. They can refine by availability and budget, then drill down into customer ratings and read pages and pages of reviews. All of this before even clicking through to your website. It is important to claim and maintain your listing as well as respond to reviews when necessary.
Tripomatic is a combination of content and planning tool all in one. You can view suggested itineraries and compile your own list of things to do during your trip. Easy to share with others, trips have a viral nature and can be passed from one happy traveler to the next. They also produce many guides like The Best Things to Do in Paris.
Expedia (and other booking engines)
Many travel products and services are sold through a third party booking engine. Much like Tripadvisor, many travellers will decide whether or not to book your service based on your listing and never visit your website. They may also research the cheapest place to book your service. Ie. Directly with you, through a published rate on a third party booking site, or auction site. Consider giving people the lowest rate they can find online to book with you directly.
There are many ways to provide e-commerce purchases and booking engines on your website. We won’t get into these tools in this post, but we can help you find the right solution if needed!
Twitter & Facebook
It is important to provide prompt customer service and responses through your social channels to support customers during the purchase process. Most customers expect a response (some expect it within hours) so be clear about how they can get support, and set up internal processes for handling customer service through your various channels.
Once you have captured the customer’s e-mail address, you can determine an automated flow of communications. If a customer abandons the check out process, you can send a reminder, or even offer a booking incentive.
Tripit is a web and mobile application that keeps your travel itinerary all in one place. It can also broadcast to your contacts where you are traveling for business or pleasure. It’s a useful and free tool that you could recommend to your customers to provide value, but also generating viral promotion for your destination. Keep in mind, your confirmation e-mails will need to be formatted appropriately to be added to a customer’s itinerary via forwarding the e-mail to the user’s trip account.
Post Purchase Engagement
A completed booking can result in a confirmation e-mail, or even a series of e-mails based on their travel dates to help prepare them for their trip. For example, arrival procedures, average cab fare from the airport, location of bank in the airport or suggested packing list. You may use the opportunity to upsell the customer before they arrive.
Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare
Visual and location based social networks become increasingly important for broadcasting a customer’s experience during their trip or activity. Ensure your location is listed and easily recognized on these networks. Provide physical signage to promote your accounts where appropriate. You may even wish to give immediate perks for activity on social media such as a free drink at the hotel bar.
After the experience, you can prompt your customers to review your product or service on various websites. Requesting a review can be positioned as soliciting honest feedback, or asking a guest to pass on their advice to fellow travelers. If you come across a particularly good review, you may want to engage and reward the reviewer. They are likely a good brand ambassador, and may be in influencer within their network.
This is just a small subset of the channels you can use throughout the customer journey. At Digital Coconut we develop a customized plan for your travel brand. View our process and services.
To summarize our III part series on defining your customer journey and which marketing channels to use at each stage, here are some key takeaways:
- Get to know your customer and understand their journey for your specific product or service
- Determine which channels and social networks are appropriate for each stage of the journey and how they can support one another
- Provide value to your customers throughout the journey in the form of helpful content, booking incentives etc.
- Outline a consistent and regular content and messaging strategy for each channel/stage
- Measure the success of each tactic to optimize over time
Forrester Study: Engaged Social Followers Are Your Best Customers
Google Tool: Customer Journey to Online Purchase