You might be wondering why some destinations are far more popular than others or why certain travel trends explode over time? Well, it’s all because of the power of travel marketing. Travel marketing is an integrated business function that highlights the strong promotion of a key destination to its prospective niche travel markets.
As travel marketing becomes an important aspect of tourism management, a vast array of opportunities await the marketers as they embark in the journey towards promoting tourist destinations in a multitude of platforms.
The 7As of Travel Marketing
Travel marketing (or tourism marketing in other terms) are founded within the general principles of marketing and that is through the creation of brand value strategies using the 7P’s of Marketing (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Physical Evidence, and Process). However, in the tourism industry, it is also necessary that our strategies towards travel marketing are also anchored in the 7 A’s of Tourism Marketing (Bloq, 2021). These are:
- Actors, and
But before we dive deeper into the different elements mentioned, let’s scratch the surface first and know what makes the travel industry a viable field in your pursuit towards your marketing career.
Understanding the Travel Industry
The travel and tourism industry boasts its positive and dramatic improvements over the course of the COVID19 pandemic ending the year 2022 with a total of 967 million international travelers visiting multiple destinations all over the world surpassing the 2021 data of on 455 million (Global and Regional Tourism Performance, n.d.). Leading the travel and tourism industry are the destinations in the European continent which accounted for 62% regional international tourism arrival shares in 2022. This is followed by the Americas (16%), Asia and the Pacific (10%), Middle East (7%), and Africa (5%). In terms of global tourism receipts, the industry generated USD 1.012B in 2022. And in terms of employment, there is 1 out of 10 people who are employed in the industry contributing to roughly 5-7% GDP over the course. The figures would definitely tell us that the travel and tourism industry is in full swing as it launches the era of REVENGE TRAVEL.
The tourism industry is a unique and dynamic sector of society with very peculiar characteristics tucked in it . These characteristics are as follows:
- The Travel and Tourism Products are PERISHABLE.
You might be wondering why the products in this industry are perishable (apart from the presence of food in the industry) and the answer is simple. Travel and Tourism industry relies heavily on products and services that have a daily deadline. Yes, daily! Imagine if we are an airline company and we own an 853 seater Airbus A380 aircraft flying from New York to Singapore and it happened that on that day, our airplane took off with 400 passengers in it. It only means to say that the remaining 453 seats are already vacant with no potential to regain its potential revenue of the course of the flight. Hence, if a tourism product is not sold on the day of the service, it loses its opportunity to general higher sales and thus it is considered perished.
- The Tourism Products and Services are INTANGIBLE.
Though some may argue that some tourism products are tangible such as souvenirs, tickets, and others, tourism professionals will still bank on the intangibility of the tourism services. Tourism is an Experience Economy. Meaning, the phenomenon of tourism exists based on the subjective perception of man towards the way they have experienced the destination during their time of visitation. Hence, the core product of tourism is experience and experience are all intangible. “It’s meant to be felt rather than to be touched” as we usually say.
- The Tourism Products and Services are INSEPARABLE.
In travel and tourism, physical products and intangible services go together. It is impossible to create a strong destination branding with just pure service and no tangible products to support it. For instance, taking a tour of Disneyland will not be as magical without the rides and attractions that guests are actually paying for. Or simply, a hotel stay will not be memorable without the bed inside the guest room.
- The Travel and Tourism Industry is always affected by SEASONALITY
The travel and tourism industry is no stranger in the changing demands subject to the seasonality of the products and services being offered. Example, in tropical countries like the Philippines, the mango is a popular fruit that foreign guests are raving about; however, this can only be enjoyed during the summer time. Another instance is in South Korea where guests flock to the country during the Cherry Blossoms season as it adds more vibrance in this Asian destination.
Apart from the characteristics of the travel and tourism industry, technology also plays a big role in the advancement of this sector of the society. With the rise of artificial intelligence, the internet, social media, and mobile applications, the industry is quickly adopting these innovations to promote more destinations, reach new markets, develop more programs, and sustain key tourism destinations for the future. In the area of travel marketing, a lot of new ways in promoting destinations were integrated in different marketing campaigns. The essence of content marketing, digital promotions, use of VR and AR technology, as well as social media marketing and search engine optimization are now being heavily invested by Destination Management Companies (DMC’s), hotels, airlines, and travel & tour businesses all over the world.
Identifying Target Audiences in Travel Marketing
Travel marketing is a critical business function that determines the success or failure of a travel & tour business and its destination being promoted. As Travel and Tourism professionals, we play the most important role between the tourism suppliers and the ultimate consumers, which are the visitors. In the travel and tourism business, we are always the Middleman. But unlike other industries where the middleman only provides the logistical support to bridge the gap between suppliers and consumers, the travel and tourism marketers go beyond that responsibility. We are co-creators of the tourism products and services in the sense that travel & tour businesses consolidate all tourism supplies in order to create a tour package to be sold directly or indirectly to its target visitors.
The tourist market is a vast market to play around. Approximately 90% of the world’s population is considered to be part of a tourist market. Typically, in order for a travel marketer to select the right audience for a certain tour package or product offering, we use the most common marketing technique which is Market Segmentation. Market segmentation is the process of dividing an entire market into smaller customer segments grouped according to their geographic origin, common demographic features, psychographic groups, and behavioral categories. Tourist segments can be combined together to focus on a more specific market segment or what we also called a niche.
As we identify the preferred market segment for our tour packages and other tourism product offerings, marketers have to also understand the competition landscape on the chosen niche. As they say, “it is difficult to own a niche segment when you have more competitors seeking to have a huge chunk in your market share”. This is where market targeting and market position come into play.
Market targeting is the process of knowing the right platform to put your brand in order for the desired niche to gain awareness in the hopes that this awareness will be higher to be considered for a closed sale. On the other hand, market positioning is also a way to introduce your brand and tourism products to the market by creating a position statement that will add value and create a brand recall to your target markets. For instance, Malaysia has strongly placed its positioning statement in their destination branding by introducing the “Malaysia Truly Asia” campaign in 1999 and up to this day, it is still highly regarded as a catalyst in tourism marketing success of the country.
Crafting Compelling Travel Messaging
Travel marketing is all about storytelling. The destination value is always highlighted in the promotional campaigns through the integration of actual visitor experience that sends a strong compelling message to the target audience. A strong marketing message needs to highlight this four key elements:
- The audience persona
A compelling travel marketing message is highly targeted to the audience persona. The choice of words, the tone, the visual elements, and even the emotions placed in the message are deeply rooted in the persona that the target audience is portraying. For instance, if we wish to position a travel company to target corporate travel markets, our message should convey formality, professionalism, and straightforward content.
- The “awareness” phrase
Ever wonder why some businesses easily convert a potential client into an active customer? For instance, Agoda positioned their online travel agency using their tagline “Less hassle, more travel”. This is a very straightforward message that conveys awareness to the readers that this company is a travel agency in the world wide web offering ease of booking experience. The awareness phrase is a word or group of words that conveys your presence as a brand. Take it as a primer to your position statement.
- Your potential market’s pain points
The best way to sell a product to a customer is to create the image that your product is the BEST SOLUTION to their problem. You might be curious why most of the travel agencies would start their advertisements with some questions. This is to draw the attention of the audience to the ads especially if the customer can relate to the words and statements placed at the beginning of the ads. This is done by understanding the pain points of your target audience.
- Your value proposition
At this point, marketers deliver the biggest bang in their marketing message. The statement shall focus on the brand, its features, benefits, and its promise. In travel marketing the value proposition is always anchored on the promised experience once the target audience visits the destination. It is quite a challenging one as experience is subjective and has a lot of variables to consider.
Marketing messages should be dynamic and always present in the customer’s journey towards your brand. Customer journey mapping is also important in this area of travel marketing. This is done by plotting out the different key touchpoints of our potential guests as they traverse different customer journey stages such as (1) awareness, (2) consideration, (3) purchase, (4) service delivery, and (5) loyalty (Følstad & Kvale, 2018).
Building Brand Identity in Travel Marketing
As travel and tourism marketers, our goal is to establish a positive and high-quality travel brand in the minds of our target customers. A brand is considered as the set of values, attributes, and features that your company is offering to the market. Simply put a brand as the genetic make-up of the company. Branding is a challenging marketing task that devotes consistency from the brand identity development, the brand promise statement, up until the delivery of the service to the clients. Branding can make or break a certain travel company.
In the same notion, brand identity is done by travel marketers to create the overall representation of the travel products and services offered to the market. For instance, if the travel company is focused on Generation Z travelers, the branding of the company from its logo down to its service delivery should be hip, fun, fresh, and within the spectrum of the Generation Z travel market. The product offerings are also aligned with the client’s desires and needs. Say for instance, integrating nightlife activities like bar hopping and pub crawls in the itinerary can help you target the nightlife tourist markets.
The choice of words, color schemes, tone, and your product components are all essential in the development of a strong brand identity.
In the Asian continent, one successful branding campaign that was launched years ago and up until this day is being used is the Incredible India campaign. The focus of this campaign is to highlight India as a multi-faceted tourism destination ready to cater the demands of a multitude of tourist markets from leisure, corporate, religious, gastronomy, nature, adventure, and MICE markets.
Travel marketing is a broad area of tourism learning and development and what you have just read is just the tip of the iceberg. Want to know more about the ins and outs of travel marketing and how we can help you create high-quality tourism campaigns worthy of international recognition? Enroll the course now!