10 ways travel brands can prepare for peak Published December 12, 2019 With the party season over and grey skies looming, January can be a grim month. To combat their January blues, many consumers start planning their next escape to the sun. Booking a summer holiday is a popular antidote to post-party season gloom, making January a peak booking month for summer travel. But how can travel marketers make the most of this trend? What tactics can you use to boost bookings? Find out as we explore 10 ways travel brands can prepare to put their brand in pole position this peak season. 1) Optimise your site search Your customers can’t get serious about booking until they have relevant results for the location and dates that suit them. For this reason, your search function is crucial. Is your site search intuitive, fast and accurate? If you’re not sure your site search cuts the mustard, now’s the time to improve it. Identify ways to improve the performance of your site search in preparation for peak season with user testing. 2) Support customers throughout their journey What if you could hold your customer’s hand throughout their journey to purchase? Automated email workflows allow you to do just that. According to Google, holidaymakers progress through the following stages when they book a trip: Dreaming Planning Booking Experiencing You can tailor your email messages based on how your customer has just engaged with content, to ease them along in their purchase journey. For example, set up a workflow that sends emails with messaging around the benefits of booking now to shift planners into the booking phase. 3) Personalise suggestions In travel, personalisation is key. Consumers want a unique holiday, with hand-picked features, tailored to their tastes and aspirations. Indulge customers desire for something “truly them” by using personalised offers. Using behavioural targeting you can tailor website and email offers based on customer’s interests and content they’ve already viewed. 4) Reposition the package holiday Have package holidays had their day? With the popularity of bespoke breaks, you might assume so. But brands that retire their package offers this peak season could be missing a trick. Brexit is looming, the pound is weak and household budgets are stretched. This creates a unique opportunity for travel brands to reposition the benefits of package holidays to price-conscious families. Insight from travel trade association ABTA, suggests that UK families are falling back on the good value and consumer protection offered by package holidays. 5) Highlight eco features The responsible tourism trend has gone mainstream. Over a third of people (36%) would opt for one travel brand over another based which had the best environmental record. Prepare to make the most of this eco-trend during peak season by creating campaigns around responsible travel destinations. Include environmental USPs in your messaging to resonate with the responsible travel audience. 6) Use social proof How can you turn casual browsers into holiday bookers? Social proof is a powerful persuasive element to make use of in your marketing. Reviews and ratings can assure browsers that they are onto a good deal. And showing how many others have already booked a trip can encourage customers to join their peers and book now. 7) Create a sense of urgency Researching and booking a holiday is a long process. To keep people focused and encourage them over them line, try adding time pressure into the mix. Countdown timers which highlight when offers expire are an eye-catching visual element you can use to create a sense of urgency in your marketing. Add countdown timer to targeted emails or display them under key offers onsite to boost your bookings. 8) Use scarcity Scarcity as another psychological tool you can use to sharpen your travel marketing this peak season. Include a real-time display of the number of seats left on a flight to trigger your customer’s fear of missing out and encourage them to book now. 9) Prompt people to complete their purchase With an overall average abandonment rate for online travel sites reported as 90.74%, basket abandonment is a pressing issue that travel marketers can’t afford to ignore. Basket abandonment emails are a smart way to combat this issue and boost bookings this peak season. Triggered when a customer leaves your website with items in their basket, this automation drives customers back to your website to complete their purchase. 10) Appear on the right aggregator sites Are you serious about maximising bookings this peak season? Don’t rely on direct bookings alone. If your brand doesn’t appear on the right aggregator websites, you could be leaving money on the table. Identify which aggregator sites are used most by your target audience and make sure your brand’s offers can be discovered through these websites. This is a quick and easy way to increase your reach, so more potential customers view your holiday deals. Takeaway When you sit down to plan your peak season campaigns, we hope our 10 travel marketing insights help you prepare for success. We’d love to see what creative campaigns you create. Share your successes with us on social media. One of our top tips is to make use of personalisation — an area many marketers need support with. We’ve taken the pain out of personalisation this peak season by compiling a handy guide. Download Personalisation in the travel industry now to get ahead of the game.