With almost universal access to the Internet now available, it’s no secret that the Internet plays an important role in connecting businesses with prospects and existing customers. Offline media still plays an important role in shaping opinions, building brand awareness, and connecting with customers who may not be heavy Internet users. However, when it comes to consumers researching purchase choices, pricing options, and business reputations, and companies engaging with customers to create calls to action that generate inquiries and new business opportunities, the Internet is where the action is today.
This is particularly true in the travel industry where the Internet has become the leading source of travel planning information for travelers. According to a Google/Think Insights Study, 85% of Americans used the Internet to make travel decisions in 2011, up from 79% in 2009. This same study noted that 51% of business travelers and 27% of personal travelers accessed the Internet through their mobile devices; 41% of affluent travelers reported that the Internet prompted them to book travel. Today, consumers at every stage of the travel process are turning to the Internet to research and book their travel needs. Hotels, inns, travel adventure companies, vacation rental property owners, and really any travel-related company that is selling its business to consumers needs to take advantage of the consumer reach that is now possible on the Internet.
Travel businesses have several different ways of connecting with customers in the digital landscape – company websites, email, search engines, blogs, social media, and photo and video sharing sites. Any smart digital marketing strategy will take advantage of all these channels and types of media. Against this background of expanding digital marketing opportunities, there are also the new challenges associated with managing a travel business’ reputation in the online world. The growing use of social media platforms and the proliferation of user-generated reviews mean that consumers are increasingly relying on consumer-generated information to make their travel decisions. Travel businesses need to both understand these dynamics as well as make sure their businesses are represented accurately and broadly on the sites where this information is showing up.
Another noteworthy trend is the increasing influence “rich media”, like video that engages the customer, is having on consumer purchasing decisions – again, this is especially true in the travel industry. The same study above noted that 68% of business travelers had watched a travel-related video online in 2011.
Each month billions of unique viewers across the world watch videos online. Given the proliferation of video content on the web, travel marketers need to make sure the video they put on the Internet to promote their business is compelling and professional in order to standout.