Kick-start your key selling period the right way

We understand that your turn-of-year campaign is a crucial start to the travel marketing year. With expected results setting the benchmark for the coming months, it is fundamental to achieve a high percentage of your annual sales.

"It can make or break the year and the success of it is often a good indication as to whether you will achieve your annual targets."

So needless to say, when you’re planning your marketing calendar, the details of your turn-of-year (TOY) are critical to cut through the clutter at the busiest time of year for travel.

Historically, the main bulk of TOY campaigns used to be focused on high production value TV adverts that ran during January, but this is no longer always the case as these headlines demonstrate:.

There has been a re-ordering of media channels in the last decade and we’ve seen a rise in the use of social and digital, as travel brands take their foot off the brand awareness pedal and opt for channels that can accommodate personalisation, drive measurable sales and brand performance.

So, it’s no longer as simple as rinse and repeat. As most travel brands step into unchartered territory, and get to grips with new channels, there is also the added pressure of getting it right for your voice to be heard to maximise bookings for the year ahead.

As the battleground has moved online, travel brands are having to think and act differently to outwit the competition whilst boosting their sales. This is where digital marketing has the upper hand over TV ads; digital provides more data than we can shake a stick at!

Historic data is vital to planning ahead

August used to be a slow month in agencies, specifically set aside for some much needed navel gazing and admin. This year we were busy looking at performance and analysing our travel clients' data to plan TOY campaigns and 2019 budgets - discovering where bookings came from, what month they were for and at what cost… The aim, to look at the good, the bad, and occasionally the darn right ugly of the last 12 months and learn from it.

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So, how can you get the most from your data, insight and agency partners at this critical time of year? Here are our top tips:

1. Lean on your agency

Make sure your agency is being proactive in providing evidence for the decisions that are being made. As your brand moves into new territories, understanding your data will be your ultimate planning tool. Set out your KPIs and objectives as early as possible and don’t be afraid to let them into your commercial information, without knowledge of margins they won’t be able to forecast returns.

2. Challenge your budget assumptions especially in your peak booking months

Monthly budget allocation is key when maximising your CPA. Clients have been known to spend budget in one month to maximise the summer sales, without realising that there was actually a spike in search traffic and bookings two months later. Had they increased the budget when more people were looking and switched it off when people weren’t buying then the CPA may have been significantly reduced.

3. Look at your channel attribution

It seems an obvious one, but it’s vitally important to find an agency that can provide you with a detailed performance breakdown of all the available channels. This should be possible in almost every instance. And although it’s not always easy, we’ve persevered and found that persistence of managing the tech has paid off hugely, especially when it comes to booking systems, which can sometimes be a black hole for data.

4. Make the most of personalisation

Personalisation is key, especially when we consider the value of maintaining loyal customers and repeat bookers. So, much can be learnt from your booking data to help you actively target the right audience at the right time.

To stand out from the crowd and be top of mind, travel businesses need to show their customers a high level of understanding to assure them that their wants and needs are going to be matched. By using relevant insights it’s possible to deliver a personalised service that offers the most convenient user experience which is tailored to your customers requirements.

5. Keep tabs on trends (who is buying, what and when)

At such a busy planning time, your agency can provide invaluable support in analysing your historical data in far greater detail than you’ve got time to. They do have the time to look at your data in minute detail and provide you with nuggets of proof to assist in your decision making process. By overlaying information from previous years booking patterns they can advise on profiles of who is booking, when they’re booking, how far out from travel date, product they are booking and more; reports which will be absolutely key in deciding which channels to use, how much money to spend, and when to spend it!

Don't neglect your data - it can be the key to success!

As the old saying to plan, plan to fail. In most cases of online marketing you will have a plethora of data that can be used to provide valuable insights to substantiate your marketing plans and budget allocations. Don’t neglect it and if you don’t know how to get the juicy nuggets of key information yourself, ask your agency for help.

Has this article got you thinking about making improvements to your planning process? Why not get in touch and see how we could help, or learn more about our digital marketing & travel services.

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