No demand season doesn’t mean your travel company’s marketing and sales efforts need to stop. It just means they need to be shifted towards other focus points. No demand season can be a great moment for your travel company to breathe, analyse and prepare for things to come. These five actions will guide you through how your marketing team can make the most of the low season.
1. Spring cleaning
This is not to say low season is in Spring but adopt the phrase and apply it to your own marketing rituals. Low season is the perfect opportunity to be out with the old and in with the new. A few things you can look at are:
Do a content audit
Look at your travel content and see what’s working, what isn’t and what can change moving forward.
Look at all your content channels: social media, email, any print material but most importantly look at the content on your website. Here we’re referring to images and video content on your site.
If your content is attached to a CTA, look at its performance compared to the previous content that was there. Look at overall page performance too. Is that page performing as well as it had before?
If it’s performing better, then great, if it’s performing worse then consider sections of the page you can change. Do this for critical conversion pages.
Your social media efforts can inform this strategy as well. Take your best-performing images and videos on social and look to see if you can incorporate them on your website. All of your travel content data should inform decisions for content used on other channels.
Cut unnecessary costs
It’s easy enough to acquire small travel SaaS tools, add-ons and extended membership plans throughout the year. It’s understandable, you’re rushed off your feet and need something done quickly, so you find a paid solution for it.
Now you’ve got some breathing space, take a moment to reassess those tools and do some basic accounting. When was the last time you used them? Can you function without them? Are they a “nice to have” or a “need to have?”
Take a look into the contract you’re on. If you’re on a pay monthly scheme, then perhaps the tool isn’t needed right now and you can sign on to it again later in the year. Look after your smaller costs, they all add up.
Update third-party channels
Whether you’re selling your core travel product or cross-selling products via third-party platforms it can be easy to forget to keep your information up to date. Especially as your product evolves over time.
In the no demand season take your time to clean up third-party platforms, amend any incorrect or outdated information. Take time to change your images and videos if you have newer or better performing content.
Go a step further by identifying those third-party sales channels that are doing well for you. Place more effort in optimizing your content on those channels or try cross-selling more products via that particular site.
Reassess social media efforts
Take the time to deep-dive into your social media platforms and clean up your efforts. Low season is a great time for a travel company to analyse the previous quarter, see what worked, what didn’t and how you can restrategize moving forward.
It’s also a great opportunity to dive into trends and predictions for the coming year and start to strategize how you can thread this into your social media marketing plan.
One big trend for the year ahead is sustainable travel, as over half of global travellers are looking to make more conscious travel decisions. It’s time to think about how your social media efforts can address these demands and travel trends.
Run an SEO audit
Finish up with an SEO audit. Identify your best-performing blog content, high-ranking keywords for your site, backlinking strategy, the list goes on. Specifically, identify keywords that relate to your sector: bing travel, flight predictor, travel packages – find associations within your industry that will help you rank organically. It’s not a light job and it’s certainly something that needs time.
SEO is also something you won’t see the results with for at least three months. Low season is the perfect time to run an SEO audit so that when high season comes around, you’re in the best position to be discovered on major search engines.
2. Stay relevant with travel content
Low season is different for different travel companies. It depends where in the world you’re selling to and where you’re offering to travel to. It’s so important that throughout this low demand travel season you remain relevant to current affairs, popular culture and seasonality.
There’s no point churning out great content that just doesn’t fit your buyer’s physical surroundings at that time of year.
By staying relevant you’ll ensure that you remain at the top of newsfeeds, inboxes and at the top of minds so that by the time your usual demographic is ready to book travel again, you’re the first travel brand they think of.
3. Prepare for next season
Preparation is key to being successful. Take time to look at your content calendar and try to prepare as much as possible for the season to come. Work on a plan of action and prepare for as many situations as possible.
Now that you’ve cut out unnecessary costs you can start looking at tools and platforms that will really benefit your business. Things like a vacation rental manager or other types of travel technology can really aid your business and it may just be you haven’t had the time to discover what they can do for you yet. Do your research and enjoy the time you have to make wise business decisions.
A huge thing to do at this time is to focus on partnerships. Travel partnerships often take a while to source, strategize and come to life. Identify partners that will be in a similar position to you as well as being relevant with their customer base.
By going after a partner with these things in common you’re more likely to create a campaign together, rather than one partner doing all of the lifting and the other pressing send.
It’s also a good time to focus on marketing trends and see how people are selling, or plan to sell in the future with the advancement of tech.
Recently we’re starting to see more conversational marketing tactics emerge, with a specific focus on chatbots. Chatbots don’t write themselves and despite machine learning, you’ll need to do a lot of work on your own chatbot design before you send it to market.
Take your time with these new technologies during the no demand season and make sure they are as prepared to go to market as you are.
4. Focus on retention
It’s one thing to acquire new customers but it’s another thing retaining your current ones. The online hospitality industry is notoriously competitive and at the beginning of 2020 was predicted to reach $818 billion, worldwide.
With so many trying to take a cut of this huge valuation your customer retention strategy should be just as rigorous as your customer acquisition strategy.
Use this low demand period to go through your mailing lists. Newsletters are not going anywhere anytime soon, they’re just becoming more customer-centric. Solo traveller saw 17k new subscribers to their mailing list in just one year.
Consider learning from this and segmenting your own data. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to deliver your current customers travel content that’s valuable and specific of their interests. They’ll thank you for it later and are more likely to return to you when the time is right to book.
Your retention strategy doesn’t need to stop at a mailing list though. Look at other communication channels you have: social media, an app, groups, ambassador schemes…. Make sure you’re keeping all of these channels filled and happy with your travel content, deals and the spontaneous gift or two so they feel appreciated and valued.
5. Offer new products
Just because you’re going through a no demand season for booking travel, it doesn’t mean you can’t still sell. There are plenty of other services or products that could be useful for your usual customers. Look into launching new products that are a relatively low lift and high reward. No demand season is a great time to introduce gated content or discounted gift vouchers.
Think about what your customers are looking for or would be in need of throughout times that they’re not looking to fly. Let industry trends feed into your decisions. For example, with an increase in flight shame in 2020 and some travel companies seeing up to a 30% increase in train bookings. Perhaps it could be time to consider business-critical core products, outside of flights, to adjust for today’s climate.
I hope you’ve found inspiration for actions you can take throughout this no demand season and can walk away with a more productive stance going forward. The truth is, there’s so much any travel company can do when sales are slow, and all of these things listed will better prepare you to hit your goals moving forward.
About the author
Ray Slater Berry is a content strategist at Outreach Humans, and has been working in social media and content marketing for eight years. He specializes in the tech, innovation and travel sectors. He has also recently published his first work of fiction, Golden Boy.