Travel brands must evolve their online strategy in 2024 to achieve pre-pandemic success


The travel market has witnessed a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour, making the online space more competitive than ever before. Recent studies indicate consumers are making more considered purchases, viewing on average 141 pages of travel content prior to booking, and brand loyalty no longer has the same impact. With a change in purchase behaviour, those in the travel sector must adapt their strategy online to succeed in 2024.

2023 saw the first year for travel not directly impacted by the pandemic since 2019 but conversions haven’t quite bounced back, yet. While booking figures may not match 2019 levels sitting at 87% of pre-pandemic figures, the past 12 months have cemented the fact that the desire to travel is well and truly back. The 2024 travel market demands a more customer-centric approach to cater to the meticulous decision-making process consumers now undertake.

In this era of heightened digital connectivity and information accessibility, travellers are no longer exclusively tied to familiar brands. Brands must proactively address these shifts to position themselves for success. Research conducted by TripAdvisor and Similarweb, reported on The Drum, shows that for half of all travel bookings, there are around 30 touchpoints before a customer commits to a purchase.

Adam Foulds, experienced Senior Account Director at Digital Marketing Group idhl, commented on the shifting landscape in the travel sector “The welcome resurgence of travel comes with a change in consumer behaviour and a more competitive online landscape. We’ve observed a noteworthy change in how customers approach travel purchases. The consideration period, before committing to a booking, has increased from 40 days to 60+ whilst acquisition costs are around 20% higher. Brands must embrace change or risk falling behind the competition.”

idhl is at the forefront of helping businesses navigate these changes, offering tailored solutions that leverage the latest digital marketing trends and technologies. Travel brands can position themselves to thrive in this fiercely competitive online environment by:

Keeping advertising fresh: There are around 4,957 travel agents in the UK alone, each competing for customers. Target audiences are likely to see numerous ads geared towards travel. Brands must work to avoid digital fatigue by continuously refreshing creative formats online, putting the product and customer at the forefront of their creative.

Adopting a full-funnel strategy: In a notoriously competitive online landscape, travel brands need to switch up their approach to online search. While many focus on bottom-of-the-funnel tactics a full-funnel approach can help set brands apart from the crowd. Consider investing in brand awareness on channels such as YouTube or using tools like Performance Max.

Tailoring messaging: Travelling outside of peak seasons is on the up, as is the budget traveller. With customers demonstrating they are more value-conscious than ever and brand loyalty not as relevant to purchase decisions, brands must align marketing communications with this switch in behaviour.

Adam continued, emphasising the importance of a year-round strategy: “Travel businesses need to recognise the value in year-round performance marketing rather than just focusing on peak season. Travel is less and less restricted by traditional holiday seasons. While this has been an emerging trend for some time, evidenced by places like Athens now seen as a winter destination, there’s no doubt that the thirst for off-peak travel is only increasing. Adopting an ‘always-on’ consistent approach to digital marketing, with a focus on experiences and value, allows brands to maximise their reach in this dynamic landscape.”

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