You talkin’ to me?? | Travel Research Online


You talkin’ to me??

That memorable and off repeated quote of Robert De Niro, from the movie Taxi Driver should also serve as a mantra for communicators who are trying to reach today’s potential travelers. I’m sometimes at a loss trying to figure out what message they are sending, and to whom.

The tremendous advantage technology brings to today’s communications is allowing us to tailor our conversations directly at a targeted segment. No longer are we faced with a one size fits all mentality. No longer are we bound by such real world factors such as printing time, shelf life of an offer, or a brochure. Today’s marketers can target, communicate, measure and move on to the next segment. Here are some suggestions which may help crystallize your next marketing campaign.

Picture your target audience and tell them a story.

All too often today’s travel marketers get so caught up in the details of their product, service and destination, that’s all they want to talk about. I hate to tell you this, but it’s not about you. Getting too involved with features and functions, prices and taxes, frequently leave little room for the “why to buy” and “how.” If your message doesn’t tell consumers what to buy, how to buy and why to buy, then your work is undone.

Picture a classroom full of your target audience. Is it a room full of families? Singles? Couples?  Honeymooners? Retired folks? What are they wearing? What are they talking about? Visualization of your target audience should make starting the conversation easier.

Starting a conversation with people about travel isn’t too hard. Most people want to travel more. They simply believe that they either don’t have enough time, don’t have enough money or, they don’t see the need. Your job is to convince them that they are wrong on all three counts.  Prove to them that the travel offer you have, is affordable, doesn’t take too much time and is a great way to enrich their life. They want to hear that this is the correct choice for them.

Overcome Travel inertia.

Did it ever occur to you that some people don’t travel or resist new vacation options because they fear boredom? Well it’s true. In all too many households, one member puts the damper on vacation alternatives because “…there’s nothing for me to do” or “I’d be so bored!”

The antidote to boredom isn’t excitement. It’s choice! To attract today’s travelers in all segments, marketers must explain the options and available alternatives.

Tell them about the experiences they will have available.

Today’s travelers don’t want to have a jogging map available—they want to run in local races! Don’t tell them a drive in the mountains will be scenic….tell them how to climb a mountain or to zip line between its peaks. Restaurants are mandatory for connoisseurs but so are food & wine experiences outside of meal times.

Tell them about the people they will meet.

People who sail don’t only want to sail on vacation. They want to meet sailors to talk about sailing. People, who are interested in spas, don’t want to hear about equipment or treatments…..they are interested in health and wellness. Tell them that story, convincingly, and you will have a client. Tell them about the choices they have before, during, and after the trip. The more customized the traveler perceives their vacation the greater the value of the planner. Attractive options make destinations more compelling.

Avoid clichés and talking down to a traveler.

For the mature market avoid words like “Old, senior, golden years, boomers and leisure time.” These people are well aware of their chronological age; but they don’t want boring vacations. Stress words such as “fun, entertaining, enlightening, daily optional activities available, and pre-arranged”, to stress convenience. And use ”cost effective” to stress value—never sell “cheap” vacations!

Yes, Honeymooners assume and expect their destination to be romantic, but also tell them about their privacy, options to rest and restore (did someone say spa?) and to collect lifelong memories.

Travel communications, whether email, letter or ads must be focused on the customer; speak that person’s language and remove the barriers to sale. Tell them the benefits of what you are selling and how you personally will deliver it for them. Tell them when to buy it, and convey a sense of urgency or a call to action so they won’t put you off.

Travel interests people. If you talk directly to the traveler, tell them a story about the people, experiences, and the true value of your leisure offerings, you and the traveler will be working together for many years to come.

Bill is a veteran of over 30 years in the travel & tourism business. He has worked on both the supplier and agency sides. Most recently he served for over a decade as the CEO of ASTA. He is currently associated as a Senior Consultant to Partner Concepts, an Annapolis based marketing company serving Fortune 500 companies and many National Tourism Organizations (NTO). He lives in Alexandria, VA., where he also manages WAM Strategic Development. You can find him on Twitter @WldTrvlBill

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