Recently we’ve been talking a lot about the various aspects of tour booking software and how it can help your business. In our most recent post, “How Tour and Activity Providers Can Get Mobile Ready”, we discussed how you can start to improve your mobile strategy and the importance of giving it some attention. In this post we’ll get right to the nut of the issue and focus on the customer: YOUR CUSTOMER. We look at what trends are happening in travel right now and how you as a tour provider can take advantage of them.
We’ve picked three trends that are disrupting the travel industry, namely:
China & New Markets
New Customer Behaviours
Mobile (we love talking about mobile!)
We all know that the Chinese market is huge, but will the Chinese travel? Yes, is the answer. The Chinese are now the biggest spenders on outbound holidays, spending $102 billion in 2012 and outstripping the previous leaders, Germany ($84 billion). It is number two for the volume of trips abroad and number four for the quantity of overnight stays.
Social media and review sites are very important to the Chinese market with China leading the way in using travel blogs, review sites and travel forums for travel and holiday planning. They are also avid users of social media when travelling and according to a study carried out by ITB Berlin, 91% of those surveyed have indicated that they use social media when abroad, compared to just 25% of Australians.
Other areas that are experiencing strong growth, include: Russia, Brazil and the Middle East. The new world middle class is expected to double by 2030, resulting in an extra 1.5 billion people looking to travel the world.
2. New Customer Behaviours
Travel is evolving: luxury high spending travellers are now seeking more simple personalised experiences. Hotels are seen as part of the experience rather than purely as a place to sleep. This is an area tour providers should be looking to exploit. Boutique hotels catering to food lovers, adventure seekers or culture vultures require local authentic experiences to differentiate them from the competition. Make it easy for them to package your product in their core offering. If you know your market well: approach hotels – who you think your target market would love – about partnerships. Tour booking software can certainly help in this respect as it makes it easier and faster to create these relationships.
Younger travellers or “millennials” as marketers like to call them, use technology to be value conscious. More than 50% of millennials will visit four or more sources before making a purchase. However, if this process is time consuming they become frustrated as 90% of millennials reckon access to real time availability influences their product choices.
This is important, if you make it clear to a customer that the cheapest available price is on your website and you make it easy for the customer to book, they are more likely to purchase through you than an intermediary (even after they check to see if your claims hold true). This is why you need tour booking software.
Mobile isn’t just about last minute booking anymore. With 70% of us estimated to be using smart phones, it is now a key part of the travel planning and booking process.
Search is still king with 60% of travellers beginning their search with search engines. In comparison, just 13% commence their searches on travel booking sites and 12% on travel review sites. The balance is split up between airlines websites, hotel sites, loyalty programmes etc. All of these channels are secondary and may be used to confirm prices or as a check for quality e.g. a traveller finds your website and then checks your Tripadvisor rating to ensure you’re as cool as you look! This shows the importance of providing the customer with social recommendations and clear communication about your availability and pricing on your website.
With the increased focus on mobile this means your website needs to be mobile ready, both in terms of content and booking. A clunky contact form with numerous fields won’t cut it on a mobile device. Staying up to date is relatively easy with some basic skills, by using a wordpress website and tour booking software to manage your bookings. Both of these options are regularly updated, meaning you don’t have to contact a developer every time there is a new Android or iOS release.
How Tour Providers Can Take Advantage of These Trends:
Be aware of growing markets such as China, investigate partnerships with Chinese tour operators and look at getting your website localised for other languages
Understand your customer and where else they spend their money (hotels, restaurants etc)
Make sure you keep your content fresh and up to date, so travellers can find you through search and back this up with a responsive website (we recommend utilising wordpress) and tour booking software