Summer is here and we’re all in the process of jetting off to warmer climes in the relentless hunt for some sun. But how did you book your summer holiday? Via an online travel agent (OTA)? Or maybe via an app? Did you book your flights independently and then book an Airbnb? Maybe you’re CouchSurfing your way around South America, or cruising around the Med. Whatever you’re up to, the ways in which we book our holidays have changed massively in the past 10 years. This much we know. Gone are the days of heading to a high street travel agent to sit down and discuss your fortnight away with a friendly face. So what are the challenges, then, for those working in travel marketing in what is a highly competitive space?

In the next episode of our podcast Call on me, I speak to Josh Whiten, Digital Marketing Director at Sagittarius, pictured above. Around 60% of the agency’s clients are from the travel sector; Josh is therefore well placed to offer insights into the sector and around general trends he’s witnessed happening in the industry.

Watch out for the podcast, but for now here are my five key takeaways from our chat.

1. Mobile all the way

Customers have been pretty forgiving of travel brands with a poor mobile experience, until now. Expectations have increased and customers expect more on mobile when it comes to booking their travel experiences. Brands who ignore this will be left behind.

2. An OTA monopoly?

There’s always been a complicated relationship between travel brands and OTAs. In terms of digital marketing, it’s especially difficult. Both for brand and non-brand search terms, OTAs are steamrollering smaller brands in what was already a highly competitive space. So, how can they compete?

3. Experiential content

Content is more important than ever, particularly in this sector. And developments like VR lend themselves perfectly to the travel industry, so invest in this area if you can. But useful content doesn’t have to cost big bucks- city guides for example can be gold dust for brands both big and small. Which is especially useful with…

4. …the rise of voice search

The rise of voice search means longer tail search terms are becoming more and more important, as people ask specific questions of their search engines. People want to feel inspired around holiday destinations and also educated about what to do there, which is ideal for prospects at the top of the funnel.

5. The inbound phone channel is still key

For 90% of the brands Sagittarius works with, the inbound phone channel is still key. For some brands, in fact, their web presence isn’t there to drive online transactions; it’s there primarily to drive inbound phone calls. For higher value holidays, or group bookings, being able to bridge the gap from online, to going ahead and booking, phone calls are vital. And if you’re not measuring the impact of these phone calls, then you can’t make any kind of educated decisions about how effective your digital marketing is.

Well said Josh.

Watch this space for the full podcast and hear Josh discuss more, including the importance of first and last click attribution. Something we know a thing or two about. Read more here.