Travel Marketing Best Practices: How To Apply The 7P’s To Make Your Travel Business More Successful
Understanding the crux of the 7Ps of marketing is pertinent for you as a tour operator. It can help you analyze your competitive strategies, capitalize on key elements of marketing to attract new customers and ultimately reach your sales targets.
The marketing mix involves various processes, each one focusing on different areas of your marketing strategy. These different processes all need to work together in order for you to successfully attract and generate new customers.
In this guide, we’ll break down the 7s of marketing and cover some of the most important travel marketing best practices to keep in mind with each of these different areas.
The 7Ps of Marketing for Travel Businesses
The beauty of the marketing mix is that it helps you to set objectives and create a clear roadmap for your business to promote itself in the market. This includes the different marketing channels and tactics that are applied.
In 1960, professor Jerome McCarthy first proposed the idea of the 4Ps of marketing – which refers to the four elements that make up a traditional marketing mix. This applies to any kind of business. The 4Ps are
However, strategies in marketing have changed tremendously since then, and the way different types of businesses reach customers varies. This resulted in the 4Ps evolving. It only made sense to add additional Ps to accommodate all industries. These Ps include
- Physical Evidence
The 7Ps can help you attract your target audience more easily and provide the right kind of marketing messages and value to turn those prospects into paying customers.
Let’s break down the 7Ps of travel marketing.
First, there’s your product. This refers to what you’re selling your customers, and it’s what your entire travel marketing strategy will be centered around.
For many traditional businesses, a product is a physical item that you can place in your basket, or buy online and unwrap at home. However, in the travel industry, your product is not tangible. For travel businesses, product refers to some kind of tour, service, or travel experience.
When it comes to travel marketing best practices, you must understand how your product fits into the market, and what type of demand there is for your product. You’ll also need to know the unique selling proposition (USP) behind your product, and what will motivate a customer to make a purchase (or, book a tour).
There are typically a lot more factors involved in the purchase decision process for travel products. For example, a travel business customer will need to
- Plan their trip around what free time they have available
- Plan their trip around the weather
- Purchase without understanding the direct effect, or benefits, the travel purchase will offer them
- Travel purchase decisions often involve a fairly large investment, without getting a tangible product in return
This means there’s a lot to keep in mind when marketing your travel product to your audience. Understanding the market conditions, the competition, and what makes your product special is essential for attracting and retaining customers.
Of course, you also need to offer a high-quality travel product if you want to make a lot of sales.
Some travel marketing best practices include sharing as many details about your products as possible on your website, sharing videos and images of your travel experiences on social media, and showcasing reviews and testimonials from past customers.
Place is an element of the marketing mix that refers to where and how you make your product available. Because your travel product is intangible, you will likely be selling it online (as opposed to a shelf in a shop). You could also be selling through a booking platform, an OTA, or a travel desk.
Whatever the case, travel marketing best practices here involve making sure that the place you sell your product offers a smooth customer journey. This means providing a booking process that is easy and secure, and that includes all of the information your customers could possibly want to know.
For example, your website should include detailed booking pages for each of its travel experiences, with an easy and secure payment gateway. This is easy to apply with travel booking tools like WeTravel. The right booking platform will reduce friction in the customer journey, helping you sell more tours.
The price of your product, or tour, is arguably the most important factor in your travel marketing mix. You need to price your tours strategically in order to make enough profit, be competitive in the market, and attract enough bookings.
First, you’ll need to understand the market and the competition to understand the costs of other tours in your area.
Second, you’ll need to align your pricing strategy to the USP and value your tour offers. It’s important to relate price to value. This is because customers will be willing to pay more for a travel experience if it is justifiable, and the extra money relates to extra value.
If you offer the same experience as the competition but charge more, then your tours will seem unappealing. If you offer added value to your travel experience, then you can get away with charging more. You’ll also be able to use this added value as your USP.
Of course, you also need to cover your overhead costs and make sure that your pricing strategy makes sense for your travel business.
How much you charge for your travel products determines how your business will fit into the market, so it’s important to have a full understanding of your financial situation in order to price appropriately.
This element of the marketing mix is all about how you promote your travel business to your target audience. Travel advertising includes a lot of key tactics, so, you should choose ones that best align with your target audience and overall marketing goals.
When it comes to travel marketing best practices, it’s recommended that you utilize a wide range of marketing channels and processes. This could include:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- SEO and content marketing
- Paid advertising
- Physical marketing (flyers, posters, etc)
It is also essential that you have an optimized website, as this is where you will direct all of your marketing efforts to generate bookings.
Whatever tactics you use to promote your travel business, you need to make sure that they align with your customer journey and with the behavior patterns of your target audience/buyer persona.
This means using marketing channels that your target audience routinely uses, and promoting the right messages and content on these channels to appeal to your viewership.
Of course, you’ll need to keep your USP and market positioning in mind when running your travel advertising campaigns. Use your promotional efforts to stand apart from the competition and strategically communicate why customers should book your tours and what kind of value they would get in return.
You can check out our guide to creating a travel business inbound marketing strategy for more tips and tactics.
Who represents your business? This is incredibly important for travel marketing, as your products are closely linked and associated with the people who deliver them.
If you sell a product like a toothbrush, customers wouldn’t care much about who is behind the toothbrush. However, if you’re offering a guided tour through the Andes, then the person providing the tour is an essential factor in understanding whether the tour is worth purchasing.
This means that people are a factor in your travel marketing mix that you need to carefully consider and promote.
In terms of travel marketing best practices, anyone who comes into contact with a customer and represents your business must maintain a certain standard of friendliness and professionalism. The people behind your business play a major role in shaping the customer journey and influencing their purchase decision.
It’s also a good idea to display your credentials and experience on your website or booking pages. Use the people in your travel business to offer more value to your customers.
For example, you could highlight the fact that all of your tour guides are trained in first aid safety, or that they are experts on the local flora and fauna. This gives your tours a competitive edge and gives customers more reason to book your tours and helps them develop more trust in your travel business.
Process is one of the unique “P’s” of marketing for travel businesses. This refers to the journey, or processes, that a customer goes through from when they book your tour to when they complete it. Your goal is to make these processes as enjoyable as possible for the customer.
Make sure that you offer customers all of the information they need at any given stage of their journey. You also want to ensure that your customers can easily communicate with your business when needed.
Some useful tactics involve sending automated consummation messages after a customer makes a booking, and sending the customer a pack of relevant information before the tour. All of their booking information, itinerary, waivers, and anything else, should be easily accessible.
When optimizing the processes in your marketing mix, it’s also important to consider efficiency for your business. Your aim should be to plan out a strategy that is reliable, scalable, and efficient.
Using the right travel booking system is essential as it will help to provide a smooth journey for both your customers as well as for your business.
7. Physical Evidence
This is the final element of the travel marketing mix. Physical evidence can seem tricky because travel experiences are largely intangible. This means it can be difficult for your customers to look into the physical evidence of your travel experiences before making a booking.
However, carefully presenting any physical details about your business or topics will play an important role. Keep your vehicles clean and well maintained, make sure your staff are well-presented, and carefully maintain your storefront if you have one. These elements all help to build trust.
You can also use your website to help you provide physical evidence around your tours. Make sure your website is modern, trustworthy, and functional.
You should also try to incorporate a lot of images and videos of your travel experiences into your booking pages, to help customers gain an idea of what these experiences look like.
Stay Ahead of Travel Marketing Best Practices
Staying ahead of travel marketing best practices can be tricky because the industry is constantly changing. As technology develops and customer journeys change, so do the marketing tactics and strategies you use to attract new customers.
That is why it’s important to stay ahead of industry trends with a reliable and trusted platform.
A key resource in this regard is WeTravel Academy. The sole focus of this resource is to create a valuable “database” (so to speak) to help all the professionals in the travel industry with a wide range of focus areas. This may include group and multi-day travel, international tour operators, other trip leaders, wellness, and retreats.
You can freely access a wide range of e-books, webinars, courses, and articles to help you stay ahead of industry best practices and grow as a professional and tour business.
Understanding the key elements of a travel industry marketing mix is important for being able to develop a well-rounded marketing strategy.
You need to understand and address all of the different factors involved in the customer journey and decision-making process in order for you to be successful at marketing your travel company.
The travel marketing best practices above should help you lay the foundation. Of course, you’ll also need to be set up with the right travel software and tools to help you seamlessly implement these different areas of the travel marketing mix.