The Digital Era
The average consumer purchases travel only two times per year. That means airlines have only two chances to capture an individual booking each year. Sabre® Media includes digital advertising products that help airlines consistently capture the attention of those who purchase travel every day.
In recent years, an airline‘s marketing strategy included advertising channels such as magazines, billboards, television, radio, print and possibly travel agent brochures. Nowadays, marketers must keep up with the latest trends and carefully monitor marketing campaigns and strategies that will deliver the best return on their marketing investment. As travelers use different mediums to plan and purchase their leisure and corporate travel, airlines must keep up to date and adjust their strategy based on the latest trends in the travel industry.
There are many tools available for airlines to reach travelers at each stage of their travel-planning process and influence travelers‘ selections while effectively maintaining their brand. New trends include social media, loyalty programs, mobile and behavioral targeting as well as different distribution channels that are not typically included in an airline‘s marketing strategy.
As airlines strive to keep up with all the latest trends, there are some key aspects they should keep in mind when building an innovative marketing strategy.
New Trends In Marketing Strategies
Airlines need to include new trends, such as social media, mobile and behavioral targeting into their marketing strategies to reach travelers at each stage of their travel-planning process and influence their travel selections.
When an airline creates its marketing strategy, it should integrate all mediums: digital, loyalty programs, social media, email marketing and mobile. Travelers do not make decisions based on just one channel; they integrate mobile, social loyalty into their lives all the time.
Most airlines already have a loyalty program. Loyalty and rewards programs are becoming more popular for consumers across all demographics. These programs are also becoming an essential differentiator for companies; the same companies are leveraging loyalty programs as a competitive advantage by positioning their brands.
Loyalty programs can help increase or retain customers without impacting pricing. Given that many airlines and players within the travel industry already include loyalty programs into their consumer marketing strategies, it only makes sense that loyalty programs can make a big difference in their B2B marketing strategy, too.
For airlines looking to capture and retain the still-rebounding and lucrative travel agent segment, they should consider ways to reward agents with incentives for booking their flights. In doing so, they can create loyal customers not only in the travel agents themselves, but in the customers they serve.
Sabre Media offers a widely used and extremely popular agent loyalty program (more than 20,000 members registered) called Sabre® Rewards Plus that can complement an airline‘s marketing strategy. Using this travel agent loyalty program, airlines have the opportunity to reward agents points for bookings on their flights.
Airlines are also trying to integrate their loyalty programs with social media. Some programs include the opportunity for frequent flyer program members to earn loyalty points by checking in or by posting messages to the airline‘s Facebook or Twitter pages.
According to eMarketer, the expectation that social media will explode in the coming year remains an area that chief marketing officers worldwide are least prepared for but most committed to invest in. The social media channel has become even more important as airlines realize that some of their most loyal customers are also the most vocal advocates of their brand.
Airlines should engage travelers through the different social media channels available, and they should also consider B2B social media channels. Sabre Media gives airlines an opportunity to engage with travel agents. Travel agents use AgentStream to connect, collaborate and share knowledge with peers around the world, giving airlines an opportunity to manage their brand position with agents and interact with questions, offers and solicit feedback.
Email Marketing A Must
It‘s important that airlines integrate their email marketing messages across all channels as well as incorporate them into B2B and B2C campaigns.
Even though email is a mature channel, open rates and volume continues to increase, making it important for airlines to integrate their email marketing messages across all channels and incorporate them in both B2C and B2B campaigns. Sabre Media provides email marketing opportunities to promote an airline and increase brand awareness to travel agents as well as directly to end travelers.
There are the typical digital channels such as banner advertising on travel sites and search engines that can be implemented in B2C strategies. But airlines should also consider non-traditional channels targeting B2B audiences, such as travel agents, who are making travel decisions for their clients every day. Sabre Media enables airlines to communicate their offerings and get their brand in front of travel agents worldwide, right at the point of purchase. This helps encourage agents to choose a specific airline for the right customer at the right time when they are ready to buy.
Mobile solutions enable airlines to connect with travelers anytime, anywhere to deliver valuable messages and essential travel documents to their customers. Using mobile solutions, airlines can send confirmation emails and e-tickets, update travelers as itinerary changes occur and up sell ancillary amenities once a traveler has purchased a segment. Staying connected with customers helps reduce stresses they may have throughout their travel journey.
TripCase™, part of the SabreSonic® Customer Sales & Service solution, offers airlines a Web and mobile travel management platform to help customers travel with confidence and less stress. It monitors trips and anticipates travelers‘ needs. With TripCase, airline customers can receive critical flight alerts, weather delay updates, security notices and other valuable information when they need it most — and it‘s free for them.
There is heightened interest in using consumer data to create a more personalized message and for targeted marketing campaigns. There are many ways for airlines to adapt their marketing efforts to customers‘ behavior and differentiate their brand. Many new trends have evolved, enabling airlines to create targeted marketing campaigns.
Behavioral retargeting is becoming very popular in the digital world. It targets consumers based on their previous behaviors, specifically in situations where an airline‘s initial marketing message did not result in a sale or conversion. Targeting efforts should start from the initial launch of the campaigns.
Sabre Media helps advertisers implement highly targeted campaigns to the right traveler at the right time. Some of the targeting capabilities include selecting a specific group of agents based on their shopping habits such as those booking higher-yield fares or agents shopping specific markets. Airlines can also target their offers to business-class travelers or agents who are searching for a specified class of service.
Implementing a highly targeted campaign will effectively allow airlines to promote fares, new routes and strategically differentiate their brand to the right buyers.
Leveraging Travel Agents
Airlines should consider non-traditional channels that target B2B audiences such as travel agents because they make travel decisions for their clients every day.
Reaching The Corporate Traveler
Many airlines focus their marketing efforts on the leisure traveler. As the industry anticipates an increase in corporate travel spend this year, can they afford not to include business travelers in their media campaigns?
The corporate traveler should be an important segment in an airline‘s marketing plan. However, there are few opportunities to specifically target and influence this audience. Sabre Media recently enhanced its media portfolio by incorporating GetThere®, Sabre Holdings® global corporate online booking platform, into its advertising network. This channel gives airlines the opportunity to reach corporate travelers by delivering targeted messages at the time of booking. This enables airlines to reinforce and extend their corporate relationships while increasing corporate bookings.
Right Product, Right Customer
Naturally, it is important to target the right consumer, but it is equally important to present the right product to the right traveler. This should be taken into consideration when developing marketing plans and messages. By reaching the right consumers, airlines can present important information to them as well as up sell ancillary amenities once a traveler has purchased a segment.
Sabre Media helps airlines create highly effective and fully integrated campaigns to shift market share, up sell products and services, and increase brand loyalty with the consumer, travel agent and corporate travel segments.