Friday, December 13, 2013

Current Trends in Traveler Behaviour: How Tour Operators Should Harness Them for Profit

We previously blogged about interesting trends that are emerging in the US. Because the US tends to be a trend leader, tour operators everywhere should look to the newest US figures as a leading indicator to tweak their own marketing.
Here are the key behavioural trends we looked at, followed by advice on how you should harness it for revenue:

1. Fewer adults are traveling with children

If adults are traveling without children, then they are likely traveling either alone, as a group, or as a romantic couple.

People buy most when it's based on emotion. Women in particular say that spending is inseparable from their relationships, and that they spend more than they should on treating others or on trying to impress other people.

So when it comes to marketing, focus on couples. You can create romantic and relaxing packages for them, because anniversaries occur all year round, and Valentines day is just around the corner.

Create a promotional package so you can snag a piece of the $13.19 billion spent annually on Valentines day. Aim your targeting at men, though, because men spend twice as much as women.

2. There is a preference for driving vs flying

While it's easy to access the internet while you're on the road, it would be wise to capture their attention in other ways, like:

Radio

Contrary to popular belief, radio advertising is not dead - it simply has its place - and that place is in your cars.

In fact,

  • 58% of Americans with annual household incomes over $100,000 recall having heard an ad on the radio in the past month, compared to 61% for all Americans.
  • AM/FM radio accounts for 41% of the average weekly music listening time among consumers aged 36 and over, and 24% for consumers between the ages of 13 and 35.
Brochures at likely pit stops

Ask for referrals from likely stops along the way (like motels, restaurants, gas stations) and place your brochures there.

According to Forbes, consumers are more engaged when reading print material, unlike websites, which are often skimmed in as little as a 15 second visit. People read digital screen text 20%-30% slower than printed paper.

It would also be worth pasting posters along the way, as 78% of all people notice posters on suburban roads.

Billboards

If you can afford it, billboards are definitely an effective strategy. In fact, 81% of all people notice billboards on major arterials, and if you get creative with it, your billboard might even go viral.

3. The majority of US business and leisure travelers are middle-aged

According to Forbes, the majority of consumers over 50 feel that advertising and marketing either portrays them negatively or avoids them altogether.

  • Now generate 41% of all disposable income
  • Spend 75% more per vacation
  • Earn $2.4 trillion annually compared to 1 trillion for 18-24 year olds
  • Spend at a rate of 2.5 x that of younger consumers
That shouldn't be the case, because people aged 50 and over

A far cry from the negative stereotype, 50+ year olds are tech savvy and do try new things, so you should be thinking about what they want from your tour or activity.

4. Traveling households earn more than non-traveling households

It makes sense - the more disposable income you have, the more you want to travel with it. Don't be afraid to create a more expensive luxury package which offers more value, because luxury travel is on the up.

Based on responses from 536 US-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents who book luxury travel,

  • 86.2% indicate that tour bookings are higher or on par with last year
  • 84.4% indicate that luxury cruise bookings are higher or on par with last year
  • 88% indicate that bookings for suites above cruise ships are "higher than or equal to last year"
5. Trip planning sources are shifting

Social media and mobile usage is the hottest topic in travel at the moment. Your customers are using both to secure bookings:

  • 5.3% of travelers would make a last-minute booking on a tablet up to a week before travel, while 43.8% would do so on mobile
  • 50% of travel companies have said that direct bookings have been generated from social media
At the bare minimum, focus on:

  • Increasing your social presence on TripAdvisor and Facebook
  • Making your entire website easy to use on a mobile device
The path to booking has to be simple for both channels. An online reservation system like Rezdy will automatically optimise your website for mobile, and allow booking online directly via your Facebook page.

If you don't have those capabilities yet, you're missing out on a chunk of potential revenue.

Article from the Rezdy.com Tour Operator Blog