We’ve posted previously about the importance of putting the user experience first when innovating – what we call #outovating. Putting customers first is also an imperative with marketing. Generating demand means engaging users at the precise moment when they are inspired. It drives purchases regardless of seasonality.
The days of relying upon linear thinking in travel marketing are flying off into the sunset like the venerable 747 (we’re gonna miss that bird!). Our always-on society means inspiration can strike anywhere, at any time. The traveler’s path from inspiration to booking is not only getting shorter – it’s disappearing. Those who understand and capitalize on this trend will get the lion’s share of the bookings.
For travel retailers (at least those in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s long been assumed that the first three months of the year are when most travelers plan their trips. The next three is when there are more bookings and the summer is when most people take their trips.
As a result, many marketing strategies have logically timed certain campaigns accordingly with appropriate objectives: drive awareness and engagement during the planning season and then have more commercial offers promoted during the prime booking season. Makes perfect sense, right?
Not anymore. As we’ve seen so often in online travel over the past 20 years, technology has changed everything. In this case, it has upended the traditional view of customer’s journey to purchase. Instead of thinking about “journeys” or “paths” or “funnels”, we as travel marketers need to think in terms of moments and mindset.
We can’t think of a traveler as being in a particular phase anymore. We have to think of what is happening in that instant and what they may be thinking about and what would be of utmost value to them – in that moment. Impossible as it sounds, it’s a necessary shift in thinking. When you get it right, magic happens. They book. Call it a Moment of Inspiration. MOI. Yeah, it’s pronounced “mwah” 🙂
Just what is a Moment of Inspiration? It’s so obvious as to be overlooked. It’s an instagram post, a descriptive book passage about an exotic location, a conversation with a friend, a great meal. Most of these things you can’t really make and you can’t really be there or time it. In the book example, you could probably target Audible or Kindle readers for specific titles but you’d have to get pretty creepily close to know when they read it to get the timing right. To do MOI right, you’d literally have to be everywhere, which is obviously cost-prohibitive.
So if you can’t be there, why not try to create your own MOI? You may be doing that already by promoting price-driven offers, special events or themed campaigns. Such tactics might produce some near-term results but it’s not a sustainable marketing strategy.
Creating MOI requires us to think like the customer, to put ourselves in their shoes. It’s similar to thinking about what keywords to use, but with a greater focus on behavior. By their very nature, keywords embody a specific need. This rational approach works well when the customer has a specific product in mind, but with an open ended query like “where should I go on my next trip?” it fails.
The ideal MOI solution is experiential and immersive without being too deep – that is, it elicits an emotional response without requiring the user to either think or do too much. The best produced ads or well-crafted stories do this. But it doesn’t need a big budget. Think of an alluring instagram post or drone footage from a unique POV.
Our approach at TripTuner is like a promotion disguised as a game but with a practical relevance that leads the customer down their own “path” to booking. Rather than relying upon historic activity or psychographic data or externally-generated personas, we put the user in control of their personalization. Customers create their own Moments of Inspiration.
How do we know it’s working? Here’s what we found from our licensing partners – the results were somewhat surprising: TripTuner usage and bookings for our partners increased during summer. At first blush you might not expect this from an inspiration tool.
But it makes sense because the gap between inspiration and booking is shrinking fast. Travel planning season is typically during the first few months of the year, but when someone is inspired and thinks, “I want to go there,” they can and they do. We make it easy for your customers to go from inspiration to a booking right away — with a single page, highly relevant and totally engaging user experience.
So while Inspiration may be seen as a nice-to-have, TripTuner has been proven to improve order value — by as much as 25%. Offering travelers a turnkey way to dream puts the emphasis on experience, and less on price. Which is a better long-term strategy than relying solely upon offers, right?
Learn how you can get more ROI avec MOI. Get in touch.
Until then, #stayTTuned!