Oyin Bamgbose, Global SDR Manager for ResponseTap, recently attended a talk given by Chris Brown, director of Brazil Street, the marketing agency working with travel brands such as Scenic, Emerald Waterways, Cruise1st and Shearings. Here, Oyin reveals his top five takeaways from the talk.
As 31 October was taken off the table, it looks like we’re not leaving the EU until next year. As the picture continues to change almost daily, businesses across the board are working out the next steps.
Travel brands are planning for what’s to come, and Brazil Street’s Chris Brown revealed his thoughts on the impact of Brexit on the sector. As an audience member, I got to hear his take; find out about the changes to the way people buy their holidays; and why call tracking works for travel businesses.
To help you plan your travel campaigns, I’ll talk through the key points covered in the talk and answer significant questions, such as how will Brexit affect digital marketing and how can we plan for what comes next?
1: There is a level of uncertainty
It’s been a hard few years for the travel industry. Since the 2016 referendum, we’ve seen a lot of change, and the recent collapse of Thomas Cook is the latest issue that the sector’s faced.
“It’s been really tough for travel for two or three years now. Customer confidence is very soft and people are holding on for as long as they can before booking,” said Chris.
Some businesses are battling this, however. To restore faith in travel companies, Chris explained that many of his clients are including ‘Brexit guarantees’ in their advertising now, which cover everything customers need to know if we crash out of Europe.
Doing this is conflicting for some travel marketers, though. Some are saying that there’s no point in scaring customers at the point of enquiry about potential changes to visas and currency.
With travel marketers feeling unsure of where they stand at this stage, there’s a lingering sense that the industry is, like with businesses across other sectors, in a state of limbo. Until we know what will happen after we leave, Chris says we can only hope something will happen to move things along.
2: Travel businesses are holding back
As well as customer confidence being low and there being uncertainty among both travellers and travel companies, the effects of this uncertainty around Brexit are set to have repercussions in the coming months.
Chris predicts that by January and February, which are crucial booking months for holidaymakers, ad spend will be more cautious because consumers might be holding back from investing in large ticket items until they know more. He added that there is a need for travel businesses to be careful as missing out on business in January and February makes the rest of the year more challenging.
But, while his predictions are leaning towards travel businesses holding off on spending their marketing budgets, Chris doesn’t see things getting any worse: “We just need to ride it out.”
3: Value for money is going to be huge
So, what happens after Brexit? What impact will it have on the way travel businesses approach communication? Chris believes that holidaymakers will be looking for value and security, and that all-inclusive holiday providers will need to tap into this opportunity: “If businesses have an element of all inclusivity, it could be a powerful USP, to protect consumers from FX fluctuations. People will want a travel company that looks after them from their front door right through to the destination.”
All-inclusive holiday providers need to see their customer service as the USP that’s going to set them apart in the coming months.
This focus on customer service is key. So, too, is the focus on reassurance. As mentioned earlier, Brexit guarantees are becoming increasingly common as travel companies are reminding holidaymakers that holidays will still happen. As Chris said: “We’re trying to say to customers that it will be fine. The planes will still fly, the rivers will still flow, the sun will still shine!”
We do need to manage customer expectations, too. We need to help them post-Brexit and remind them that it’ll be ok. “We had very few people who wanted to travel on 1 November because they didn’t want to be stranded the day after the original 31 October deadline, and this is looking to be the case for the day after the next extension deadline, too.
“Customers will want more hand-holding as we get through the next stage. But we need to remind them to pick up the phone and buy their holiday because it’ll be alright,” said Chris.
4: There’s an appetite for interaction
As well as Brexit being the big focus for both travel businesses and travellers, there are also some changes to the way we’re booking our holidays. While many are continuing to follow the ‘DIY holiday’ trend, Chris believes there is still the need for a conversation: “For the cheap and easy holidays, people are likely to stick to booking online, but I think there’s a real resurgence in people wanting an interaction, wanting advice. Businesses such as Travel Counsellors and Kuoni are investing in people, and bricks and mortar”
He added that there is a danger that there’s a paradox of choice online and this means people hesitate before committing to spending on the higher-value holidays. There is still the need to discuss the holidays on offer and to find out more about what’s available.
“The generation of 25-year-olds who never speak to anyone on the path to purchase is a potential problem for call tracking services such as ResponseTap,” he said. “But at the same time, you’re not going to buy a £120,000 cruise without speaking to someone”
With this in mind, it’s clear that we can expect more conversations about holiday bookings in the coming months.
5: We will still need call tracking services post-Brexit
This need for people to pick up the phone to talk about their holiday booking is one of the main reasons why marketing spend should include call tracking services:
“Used properly, clients shouldn’t see call tracking as a cost. Call tracking should be considered the ‘best bill you’ll ever pay’, simply because it means that the phone’s ringing and you know why it’s ringing – and that journey is important,” said Chris.
He explained that calls are important for travel businesses and, for clients who aren’t tracking their calls, he advises that they should be.
“We’re obsessed with clicks and digital interactions, often forgetting about the phone call. When we’re speaking to new clients and they don’t have call tracking, it’s a no brainer for us. If a customer is spending millions on advertising there is an opportunity to refine media, improving ROI”
So, while travel companies may have come to rely on online traffic, there continues to be a necessity to track the calls that are coming in. People are still picking up the phone and this will continue post-Brexit.
Until we actually leave the EU, there is still a question mark around what travel will look like. But, while there are plenty of people who may feel concerned about booking a trip to Europe in the days after we part ways with the union, we’re still going to be travelling to Europe. It will just mean that holidaymakers will want to find out more about the trip before they book – and for the big-ticket trips, this will be a conversation over the phone.
This, in turn, means that there will still be the need for call tracking services, such as those on offer from ResponseTap. To find out more, call us.