Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer, advertising and partnerships, at lastminute.com group, outlines travel trends among European consumers.
As a non-travel brand, if your eyes glaze over at the mention of travellers then don’t switch off just yet. Going on holiday tends to be one of the biggest leisure purchases people make each year. It happens just once or twice a year for most, meaning we’re prepared to splash out on everything we need to make it special and memorable.
And this goes far beyond booking flights and accommodation, to buying clothes to wear, experiences to enjoy and even a gym membership to get in shape before we hit the beach – making travellers a lucrative audience for brands across every sector.
Whether you’re advertising shoes, cameras, a bank account or beauty products, there’s an opportunity to capitalise on people’s passion points by engaging them with the right messages, at the right time. For example, a consumer could be targeted with a flip flop ad when they are researching flights to Spain, information about travel insurance the day before they fly, or a special offer on wine from the region they visited upon their return.
But at lastminute.com group we know how Europe travels, and this is a group of consumers that behaves differently across the continent. Here are three golden rules that brands – both in and out of the travel sector – should take as gospel when it comes to engaging consumers across different markets.
Tailor content according to consumers’ passions
It goes without saying that content needs to be relevant. But brands should use insights to go beyond the basics of demographics and target by passion as well.
As a simple example, our data shows that Brits are a fan of city breaks, with Barcelona topping the travel wish list for the UK in 2016. Meanwhile, Marrakech and Fuerteventura were the top two destinations of choice in France this year, indicating that the French like to go further afield.
But we can delve even deeper, identifying cohorts of consumers that are passionate about particular sports, cultures or activities, and each creates fresh opportunities for all kinds of brands. Take cyclists as an example. As well as needing to book transport and a place to stay, these travellers need insurance and equipment as well – and, given their active streak, will likely be open to inspiration about other types of sporty break.
This element of discovery is something we should always strive towards as marketers – by using insights about past behavior to suggest something different, you can help people to discover something new.
By targeting people with products and services that they need and are interested in, ads become more like an information service than advertising. Rather than just jumping on the journey, brands can become part of it through content and storytelling. Not only does this reduce wastage and make ad spend go further, it goes some way in addressing the problem of ad blocking too.
Be aware of cultural nuances
Marketing efforts must be localised to take into account cultural differences between countries. And it’s about more than just the language – it’s about how people behave and engage with brands too.
For example, our data shows that Brits enjoyed a sustained peak of holiday hunting on lastminute.com in the first three months of this year, as the great British weather had them dreaming of sunnier shores come summer. Meanwhile, the majority of Italians waited until May to put their holiday plans in place, with searches on lastminute.it up almost threefold (285%) in May from the month before.
“These weather ‘spikes’ are an obvious marketing opportunity for airlines and hotels to grab with both hands”
Similarly, we know that early evening (6-7pm) is one of the best times to engage Spanish consumers with inspiration around their travels, as the most popular browsing time in Spain. And the UK is the most mobile when it comes to holiday hunting, with 55% of total searches on lastminute.com this year made on a mobile device – worth bearing in mind when planning cross-channel ad campaigns.
Tapping into these subtle differences goes a long way in driving brand loyalty, particularly when it comes to choosing the most appropriate formats and messages for each market.
Catching consumers in the right mindset is key, and brands that are flexible enough to respond to external factors in real-time stand to capture the biggest share of spontaneous spend.
For example, on the day of Storm Clodagh in November 2015 – the third big storm to tear the UK apart last year – searches on lastminute.com for international flights shot up by 42%. We saw a similar surge the day after Southern Italy was hit by floods in early November last year, when international flight searches on lastminute.it rose by 31%.
These weather ‘spikes’ are an obvious marketing opportunity for airlines and hotels to grab with both hands, but it creates a lucrative shopping window for other brands to jump through too.
Savvy brands can even adjust the creative of their ads in real-time according to the weather forecasted for when consumers arrive at their holiday destination, switching from sunglasses to raincoats at the drop of a hat.
Targeting consumers based on factors like weather triggers will only help to improve the performance of advertising campaigns, by giving people genuinely helpful information, products and services at the time that they need it.
Marketing across different countries doesn’t need to be complicated. Cultural and behavioural differences aside, travellers everywhere are united by their desire to see content that is relevant and complements their shopping experience.
And by following these basic rules, brands both in and out of the travel sector can get the most bang for their marketing buck across every market in 2017.