Revenge travel: how automated marketing can help build customer loyalty

Research shows that a staggering 81% of customers abandon their bookings before completion, posing real concerns for the global travel industry.

Research shows that a staggering 81% of customers abandon their bookings before completion, posing real concerns for the global travel industry.

But Juliette Aiken, Global Marketing Director at Dotdigital, has a secret weapon for bringing people back to their abandoned bookings and building customer loyalty – it starts with tapping into the desire for ‘revenge travel’.

Revenge travel is making up for missed opportunities

Many of us had both travel and life plans thrown into disarray by the pandemic. Now we’re looking to compensate for it. In fact, new research shows that a fifth of UK consumers plan to spend more on holidays this year. And since the travel industry is on course to be 11% of the world’s GDP by 2030 that leaves a golden opportunity for travel agencies and marketers to boost both sales and brand exposure – and keep customers coming back for more.

In a world constantly adapting to change, marketing automation has emerged as a powerful tool that’s breathing new life into the travel industry. These five tactics can help marketers level up their travel marketing strategy and ultimately drive more bookings.

Use AI-powered tools to boost your effectiveness

Streamlining processes, delving deeper into the insights behind consumer behaviours, and crafting more personalised and effective campaigns are all tasks that can be made easier with the help of AI. And, in turn, can allow marketers to work smarter.

Predictive analytics are particularly helpful in setting out the best times, channels, and messages for different demographics. By leveraging this information, marketers can share personalised messaging with their consumers, leading to a boost in open and click-through rates. With this, marketers will have the opportunity to set a positive tone for the relationship from the onset, ultimately increasing the likelihood of an improved return on investment.

Get into the detail of your demographics

The more targeted you can be, the better. That means really diving into the preferences and behaviours of potential customers and tailoring your messages to resonate with each group.

The more relevant your content feels to a curious traveller, the more likely they are to open, engage, and go to book. But it’s not all about attracting new customers. That’s only step one. How can you keep them coming back to you?

Predictive analytics win again. If you can identify potentially high-value customers early – before they develop long-term loyalty to a competitor – you can target them for long-term engagement. Funnel any customers whose projected lifetime value is above average into auto-enrolment for a rewards or VIP program. That might mean they get exclusive deals or promotions like last-minute travel offers or seasonal packages.

Before you know it, they could be one of your best word-of-mouth salespeople.

Build a strong brand identity that inspires trust

Ideally, your customers would know it’s you anywhere. Your name, logo, colours and tagline should all represent your values and help you stand out from the crowd. If you then combine this with a smooth product or platform experience, you quickly build a positive association in your customers’ minds so they always choose you first.

Making sure you have a consistent, striking and trustworthy brand can also help tackle the issue of basket abandonment.18% of people will actually abandon their online carts if they don’t trust the website with their payment information. So, making sure your site is properly branded, secure, and credible makes customers much more likely to finalise their booking.

You can also use predictive analytics to spot customer hesitation before it happens. Using historical data, your insights on customer behaviour, and machine learning algorithms, you can find the potential bumps in the road. And you can automate responses that get people back on board – like well-timed abandoned cart emails, or a text that highlights a positive review or offers different payment options. It’s all part of creating a personalised experience, with comms that represent your brand ethos and values.

Supercharge your online presence to boost bookings

A strong, consistent, and well-optimised presence across your websites, social media channels, email campaigns, and online advertising isn’t just a nice element to have – it’s essential.

At the heart of your digital world is a well-designed, user-friendly website. Customers shouldn’t have to go any further to find the right information, understand what you’re offering and see how you’re different from your competitors. And, in order to improve your search engine ranking, it’s key that your website has a strong SEO.

Your website does several important jobs, including offering more opportunities to engage with customers and creating a platform for a more personal customer experience. For the last of these, automation is especially helpful: can they pick up where they left off last time? Can you dynamically showcase up-to-the-minute hotel reviews or holiday packages?

Additionally, you can also use analytics that help you spot when to step in with a nudge in the right direction. Customers often browse and click without buying, so use the predicted next purchase date to target customers who are on the verge of making a purchase. They’ll get a customised, compelling online campaign and are your top candidates for cross-selling and upselling. Especially if they’re in the revenge travel mindset and looking for experiences that make travel even more memorable.

Attract customers by being relevant and timely

Providing accurate and timely information not only strengthens trust between you and your customers but also enhances the overall online booking journey. Customers need to see you as a regular presence, adding genuine value to their travel experience by sharing content across a variety of platforms and touchpoints: websites, blog posts, emails, SMS messages, podcasts, and videos among them. All of these play a part in reaching a broader audience and increasing customer satisfaction.

Just being there isn’t enough though. You have to share the right message at the right time to tip a potential or returning customer into taking action. That’s where a marketing automation platform can manage and coordinate campaigns and content so you’re popping up on the right channel at the moment of highest impact.

That could include offers, real-time travel updates, or an instant chat. Diversifying both what your audience sees and where they see it is key to keeping up conversions.

Automation-driven personalisation gets results

In fact, data shows that personalised marketing can actually lead to a 15% uplift in total transactions. Using AI-powered tools, insights, and automation can help you optimise your marketing programs – and can get travellers one step closer to making their revenge travel dreams a reality.

Most importantly, marketing automation gives you personalisation at scale – so while each traveller feels unique and valued, you’re getting closer to a whole world of them at the same time. That leaves travel businesses and agencies in a strong position to see sales rise significantly and build long-term relationships with clients. All of which sets the scene for a robust recovery in the industry and sustained future growth.

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Revenge travel: how automated marketing can help build customer loyalty