The global online travel market is still in its infancy but is showing steady overall growth. Global online travel sales accounted for 25% of all travel sales in 2013 (just under £370 billion) and this trend looks set to continue. As the owner of an online travel business, you obviously want your company to be part of this industry growth. However, things are never that simple. Here are three challenges you will face and how to overcome them:
Offline travel agents
Despite the steady growth of online travel bookings year-on-year, offline travel agents have also seen a boost in their business. Travel agents offering a face to face service are able to cater to the consumers' desire for a more personalized service, offering a comprehensive understanding of the market and the best available options.
Rank high in Search engines
The online travel portals created by search engines present a challenge for online travel businesses. Search engines use a deeper search techniques to provide the most relevant search results for customers.
One way to overcome this competition from portals is to offer added value to your customers. This may take the form of dedicated travel concierges helping customers address issues before, during or after their trip. Another tactic is to ensure your site is filled with rich content to make it 'stickier'. The richer the content, the more customers you will attract and engage. Put simply, the stickier your site, the greater your revenue.
Embrace social media
In this day and age, you will struggle to become a successful and booming business without a trace in the social media world.
Social media provides the perfect hub to:
Create a group of users that ‘like’ your travel company, provide photos of their experience, and give promotional testimonials.
Gain precious opinions that you can take on board for betterment.
Provide discounts and promotions to those as a reward who ‘like’ your page. This is a core component to attract visitors to your page.
Create a Facebook company page so you can interact with your customer’s one on one or as a group. If you’re stuck, download our guide to social media for tourism operators. We detail exactly how you should go about each social network.
Know your audience
If they’re young don’t plan them to spend ridiculous amounts of money, and if they’re old don’t expect them to be thrill seekers. However, there are many older folks who would seek a thrill if approached in the right way, so be smart as there are always exceptions.
What are their interests? Do many of your rock climbers also enjoy forest hikes? If you find a method throughout your visitors, then you may have discover yourself a new marketing channel.
Why would they buy your experience? What keeps you stand out to those travelers in particular? For example, it’s because you offer romantic tours and you know your customers likely to be couples on their honeymoon.
What motivates them? Travelers will buy based on feeling– do you want them to feel amazed, relaxed or thrilled?
Knowing and understanding the needs of your travelers is the KEY to getting more bookings.
Extend your B2B network
It is no big exclusive news that your business relationship with partners is highly a important. Business partners can help you reach new markets, new customers, get new strategies and so many more! Making a new B2B partner is just the tip of the iceberg, keeping one is something that sincerely requires hard and trustworthy work. Learn how to easily extend your B2B network.
Enhance your offer by doing integrations with GDS systems
A good way to be competitive is having the best possible rates on a worldwide range of high quality transfer services, car rentals, attraction tickets and excursions. When having a travel software, this is possible through XML integration with different hotel systems (3rd party systems). Combining different sources into a unique travel experience is the guarantee of your service.
Regardless of whether you have an amazing loyalty program or not, customers will generally tend to make their final decision based solely on price. Airlines and hotels are often able to offer customers the most competitive price with added 'perks'; things your online travel business is unable to match.
It is easy enough to set up a loyalty program for your travel business, but it needs to add that little bit extra to give you a good return on investment. One example of this could be offering customers complimentary travel insurance or car hire for bookings over a certain amount. Alternatively, tapping into your customers' profiles and preferences can reveal favorite meals or wine that can be waiting for them at their final destination.