The Sabre Web Booking Engine by Billian (SWBEB) is a cost-effective tool and an asset to any OTA or travel company looking to enter the digital marketplace, however it alone is not a guarantee of increased sales – some promotion is necessary!
So whether your company is new to the world of online travel booking, or you’re looking to build on your current marketing efforts, here are some tips to get your new integrated web booking engine in front of consumers …
Launch your new service
A SWBEB will not only be an attractive travel booking option for new customers, it will also benefit any returning customers – so shout it from the rooftops!
Announcements via e-marketing to existing customer mailing lists and social media campaigns are a good place to start, as you can link directly to the online booking tool on your homepage.
But don’t stop there! If you have a shop or a network of branches, try posters in shop windows and handing out leaflets. Be sure that all staff are up to date on the new service and can talk about it in-store to help spread the word.
You might even consider some “Online only” special offers to win over existing customers and get them talking about it.
If you want to attract online consumers, it is of course important that your business is online. This goes further than having a website, as mentioned briefly above a social media strategy is a great way of being ‘present’ on the web – not to mention that it is incredibly cost-effective!
It is important, however, that you keep social media accounts updated – one tweet three months ago will reflect badly on your brand. Rather than signing up for everything out there, find out where your target market is most likely to be and concentrate on one or two major players.
Once you’ve found your home in the online social arena, have a look at how similar companies are utilising the platform. What are they posting? Are they encouraging user-interaction in some way? Do they set up competitions?
Provide links to your website on social media profiles (and vice versa!) and encourage existing customers to follow you so you can target them again in the future.
Modern consumers are used to seeing their favourite brands on Facebook and Twitter, and those companies that are absent lose credibility. These channels also make your company seem more approachable and easy to contact should they have any queries.
While a SWBEB will help to automate the booking process and allow the consumer to book their trips themselves without face-to-face assistance, it is important that you reassure them that you are on hand should they have any queries.
Keep contact details visible throughout your site, even if the consumer does not need to use them; they will feel more comfortable buying via an internet booking engine if they know some form of support is there.
Another good way of maintaining a human touch is by including testimonials from customers who have a received a particularly good service. Consumers are more likely to believe reviews written by fellow shoppers than the usual marketing claims and slogans that they see every day.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search engines continue to be the first port-of-call for travel consumers and it’s important that you take steps to be among the top results. Often the travel booking journey starts out as spare of the moment Google searches on lunch breaks or in waiting rooms, so if you’re too far down the list you could miss out!
Luckily there are many tools available to help you climb the rankings – Google Adwords can help you to associate your page with particular search terms and keywords, and the best part is that you only pay when a user actually clicks though to your website,
It is also important that your website has the appropriate meta information and tags so that search engines can index your pages and present them to the consumer. You can even add meta information and your Google Analytics tracking code directly to your SWBEB, meaning you can collect data of how consumers are interacting with the tool.
It may all sound a bit overwhelming if you are new to the digital marketplace but it is worth taking the time to figure out!
Engage with Content
The biggest challenge in any digital marketing strategy is keep the customer engaged. The internet is a busy place with everyone competing for attention and to stand out from the crowd you need to develop quality content that maintains your audience’s attention.
To target customers early on in their booking journey you could write blogs about destinations that are popular among your audience. Recent research also suggests video is important to travellers when researching a particular location, so consider setting up a YouTube account and embedding videos into your homepage.
Of course the first rule of marketing is figuring out who your demographic is and how to target them, your content strategy should be developed with this is mind and tailored accordingly.
The digital consumer market is a competitive place and it will take time to build your online presence but these are good starting points to digital newcomers. It is becoming more and more necessary in the travel industry to be online and while it may not be easy, it will certainly be worth it!
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