If you asked most people to make a list of the things they dream about, in that list, there will be at least one trip to someplace in the world, near or far, exotic, secluded, ancient, futuristic, or crowded—in other words, a “dream destination.” And everyone has their own dreams.

I mean, everyone wants to travel, to disconnect from everyday life, to go elsewhere. Increasingly, this “elsewhere” is less and less standard, and more and more personalized.

According to the latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of tourists in 2017 alone was about 1.4 billion, a 7% increase over the previous year. In 1990, this number was around 400 million, around 700 million in 2000 and around 900 million in 2010.

“The growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is now one of the most powerful engines of growth and development worldwide,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UNWTO. The numbers prove it.

Today, the Travel & Tourism sector generates around 10.4% of the world’s GDP and 319 million jobs (around one in 10 internationally). In 2018, the industry grew by 3.9% year over year and was responsible for creating one in five new jobs (source).

If we focus only on Europe and Italy, the trend remains the same. In 2017, 617.7 million tourists travelled to Europe, +8.4% compared to 2016. Over the same period, Italy had 122 million foreign tourists (+4.5%), and over 427 million total tourists (+6.0%) according to ISTAT data. The average expenditure of foreign tourists increased by 7.7%, again, on an annual basis, settling at €39 billion, with a positive trend on both the leisure and business fronts.

Let’s move to China, the country where the tourists of the future will come, which will result in even greater growth in the sector. While there were “just” 10.5 million tourists in 2000, there are ten times that today, more, or about 150 million, who are estimated to spend around $2.7 billion.

Travel & Tourism is a healthy and growing sector. Ninja Marketing calculated that the annual spending on tourism in Europe in 2017 was around €450 billion, which could rise to €532 billion by 2027. n this sector, when it comes to marketing and customer care the real challenge, now more than ever, is to pay attention.


The fight for attention

Put yourself in the shoes of those who are planning (or still dreaming) about their next trip… Now, just imagine the offer of destinations, transportation, accommodation, activities and experiences as if it were a showcase. It’s huge and incredibly crowded.

For companies in the sector, taking care of your brand identity requires paying attention to your reputation. But today this is no longer enough. Everything has changed: the playing field has splintered, digital transformation has changed everything and customers are no longer dependent on the middle man.

So, how do you get noticed? How can companies turn the passer-by on the other side of the window into a customer? And eventually into a loyal customer, a “prosumer” (or in other words in an active “customer” who in turn becomes the first marketing agent for your company)?

Don’t despair; behind every change lies new possibilities that were previously unimaginable (and today these opportunities all come from digital transformation).

Above all, we need to turn the prospect upside down, to be recognized, of course, but above all to know who is in front of you and to learn to communicate with him (or her) in a personalized way. Today this is made is possible, thanks to the data-driven marketing revolution, which extends into personalization.

This is the most effective way to capture the attention of a composite and endless audience; to increase the rate of engagement and conversion and, finally, that of loyalty. Here are five ways to increase conversion, engagement, and loyalty.


1. First of all: Be clear and simple

The first method is almost a preliminary necessity, and universally valid. And it can be translated into one word: simplicity.

The road to conversion today is of course, digital. That’s why we talk about the customer digital journey. This route is dotted with many touchpoints, which are – at the same time, the slippery points, where the rate of abandonment increases.

This includes calls to action, data requests, newsletter subscriptions, and any up-selling or cross-selling actions. These should be designed as clearly and simply as possible, without creating confusion and from an omnichannel perspective (with great attention to mobile) and in a way that is responsive.

The average conversion rate in the Travel Industry is around 1.6%. Top performers reach 2.6%. These numbers explain how hard the fight for the conversion is; and how much we can’t afford preliminary errors.


2. Storytelling in the centre (before, during and after the trip)

You can’t talk about the tourism sector without talking about storytelling. Storytelling is the essence of every type of marketing and customer care in this sector.

It must be included in each and every phase of the journey, from research and design, to during the experience, up to the final phases of the return home. We have dedicated an in-depth article to the central importance of storytelling in the Travel Industry.


3. Have a social strategy

This point is deeply linked to the previous one. We can’t talk about storytelling without considering the fundamental “arena” of social networks; and, today more than ever, the most effective narrative is the visual one (and even more so the video one).

In this sense, Instagram is by far the most effective social platform, and it is no coincidence that it is also the one with the most solid and unstoppable growth in terms of users and traffic.

Sixty per cent of millennial travellers are active on Instagram, and 48% of Instagram users use the application to get inspired and discover new travel destinations (Source: Convince&Convert).

It is therefore essential to put in place an effective strategy and planning that is consistent with the characteristics of your brand. But one of the fundamental points is above all to stimulate the creation of user-generated content, content produced spontaneously by users, which are those who give a sense of authenticity and therefore of trust, to users.


4. Use big data to divide your targets

One of the most important consequences of the digital revolution is the availability of a previously unimaginable amount of data. These are digital traces that are used to reconstruct the profiles of people online (i.e. almost all of them), their behaviors, their possible needs. This is called “big data.”

It’s important to keep in mind is that it’s not enough to have an impressive amount of information if it is not understandable and useful. Analyzing your users’ digital journey in an omnichannel way is fundamental, and it is something that must be done in the deepest, most “intelligent” way possible (for this reason, today, we prefer to speak of “deep data” or “smart data”).

Learning how to organise this huge amount of data in a functional way (with the help of Artificial Intelligence systems) is fundamental on several levels: from revenue management to reputation management, from market research on competitors to the best possible management of one’s own wealth of loyal users.

Knowing how to analyze data means knowing who is “in front” of you, dividing your audience into increasingly specific targets with actions that are as tailored as possible. To put it another way: sell the right product or experience to the right people, at the right time, at the right price, through the right channel. All of this, of course, makes the conversion rate soar.


5. The real frontier: personalization

In the previous point, we have seen how effective (and by now indispensable) it is to divide one’s target into coherent segments, to be hit with increasingly specific marketing and customer care operations.

Today, however, we can go further, going as far as the individual person, and embracing a completely customer-oriented perspective.

All of this is made possible by services such as those offered by Doxee. One example is the case of Club Family Hotel, an important Italian hotel chain, whose target audience is families with children. Based on Doxee’s services, the brand has created a personalized email campaign, using on videos tailored to each individual recipient and based on the different needs, characteristics, and past behaviors of each customer.

Within these personalized videos there is the possibility to insert a customized call to action that refers the viewer directly to the booking page.

The results are striking: the click-through rate of the campaign has seen a surge of 81%, compared to previous ones. And the conversion rate increased by 5%. As we mentioned above, in the travel industry, conversion rates are around 1.6%, which shows how effective personalization can be.


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