How SA travel industry can use digital marketing to secure its survival
As travel businesses are vying for travellers' attention, Incubeta, a company that deals with media strategy and management and works with many global and local travel companies, believe that the travel industry can use digital marketing to secure its survival.
Roan Mackintosh, MD at Incubeta Group, MEA, said South African companies were facing the same challenges as the larger, global operations, but often without the cushion of a secure balance sheet.
“We have been working closely with our travel clients like Club Med, Bookings.com and Air France/KLM throughout the lockdown year. The Covid-19 pandemic has really hit the tourism and travel sector very hard and getting back up to speed will be a challenge. In a vertical as competitive and global as the travel industry, making sure your messaging is truly relevant, targeted, personalised and timeous is the competitive advantage that every company is striving for.
"We believe that with some basic digital efforts our travel and tourism sector can beat the Covid shock," he said.
Market research conducted by GlobalWebIndex shows that just a third of UK holidaymakers have not had to change or cancel plans as a result of the virus. This is even worse for the US traveller, where just eight percent have been unaffected by the pandemic as the country continues to struggle to contain the virus.
Most countries went into lockdown ahead of their traditional holiday time, crippling many travel companies. Tich Savanhu, Head of Digital Strategy at Incubeta, said the effects of the pandemic have even taken their toll on travel-related search.
“Travel-related search traffic has dropped by as much as 80 percent over the past few months for our clients in the travel industry. That’s huge. Because of the low search numbers, we are also seeing a significant drop in the ad inventory, which is something to factor into the mix when embarking on a digital campaign,” she said.
Savanhu said that when tracking user behaviour, tools like Google Trends is a great place to start. Users can segment the results by region so they can have a provincial and city view.
Johan Walters, the lead tech solutions consultant at Incubeta, pointed out that Google research has shown that safety is top of mind for potential travels right now.
“It’s all about enticing people. The pandemic is far from over and if local destinations hope to get customers through the door, they must ensure their patrons feel safe. Ensure that your company clearly shows what safety precautions are in place. The new, more skittish traveller also wants flexibility. We may end up going back into lockdown if there are hotspot outbreaks, or the customer may get sick and have to go into isolation. Things can change in a heartbeat, so come up with content and messaging that give customers the comfort of a safe and flexible offering,” said Walters.
They urge the industry to look at your existing database and target these customers.
They also advise coming up with digital strategies for 2021 and 2022.
“Putting together digital strategies for 2021 and even 2022 is a really good idea. Things will change once we have a vaccine and even effective Covid treatments. Start now by defining your audiences as well as their motivations and then reach out to them. While the tourists may only touch down in 12 months, securing their euro- or dollar-based deposits for a 2021 vacation can really help your business right now,” Savanhu added.