With internet & smartphone technologies constantly penetrating deeper into new markets, more and more people are opting for online travel booking. But at the same time, the number of online travel booking platforms is also increasing; consuming the rising opportunities in the online travel industry at pretty much the same rate.
With the sheer amount of online travel booking portals becoming rapidly available to the market, it is crucial for your online travel business to differentiate from the lot to grab consumers’ attention.
Standing out from the crowd doesn’t only mean offering something extra, but also bringing changes in the business ideology & operations that make your online travel startup radically different from competitors.
Here are 5 strategies that will save your online travel startup from getting lost in the crowd of me-too products.
Make It Distinguishable
In long term, only the businesses with a distinct mission & vision survive. So, your travel business must have a distinct purpose, which in business language is called unique selling proposition (USP).
Now, it’s not like just because you have to have a USP, so just invent one. Find one by doing extensive market research. See what’s lacking in the services provided by your competitors. Brainstorm over how customer experience can be enhanced. Check what’s unique about the leading online travel industry players to gather some more ideas.
Once you have pinpointed your USP, make sure your target audience also get to know it. Use different online & offline marketing channels to spread the word. Be loud & clear when telling your customers that no other business solves that problem better than you.
Make It Easy to Connect
It’s a common misconception in the business world (not just travel industry) to over-engineer a product just to make it distinguishable. Nobody likes to use a complex product or website. Therefore, the right way to distinguish your business is to simplify things, so the users can easily comprehend your business offerings.
To make sure customers find it easy to connect with your travel booking website, take following actions.
- Build an informative homepage/landing page which clearly tells visitors about your features, offerings, & how to use them.
- Design an intuitive navigation that is perfectly aligned with customer behavior.
- And be transparent about your return & cancellation policy to avoid any sort of customer dissatisfaction during & after the transaction.
In addition, sell or give away branded merchandise like backpacks, caps, t-shirts etc. that improve your brand’s visibility when your customers take a trip.
Make It Desirable
Over a long period of time, the success of a business depends on its relationship with the target audience. For that, you need to work on turning your customers into loyal customers.
You can begin with implementing a reward point-based discount program to persuade customers to keep coming back to your website. Plus, you can also offer goodies & surprise discounts to your loyal customers to establish a rock-solid brand-customer relationship.
Other than these, associate your business with charity/non-profit organization. People love it when their expenditures also go to a good cause. For a travel startup that caters to people who go & experience life in different places, associating with an NGO makes all the more sense.
In addition, also turn your customer service into customer delight. Brands with impeccable customer service naturally have a better customer retention rate.
Make It Mobile-friendly
The mobile revolution is already upon us. In pretty much every industry, online operations are migrating from desktop to mobile. The travel industry is no exception. Besides, travel being an on-the-go activity, it makes more sense to provide travel related services, on-the-go.
Also, note that even when the bookings happen on a desktop, in most cases, the search begins on a mobile device.
To keep up with changing customer behavior, adopt a mobile-first strategy for your travel booking startup & take advantage of being an early bird. Stand out from the crowd and & become a favorite of growing number of mobile shoppers in a timely manner.
Make It a Habit
Sales don’t happen on the first brand-customer interaction. It takes repeated visits before a customer is finally ready to make a transaction. So it is crucial that you inspire those repeated visits first, before pitching for the sale.
Stats say 23% visitors on travel booking sites only do the browsing. Offering features like Wishlist & social media sharing will inspire those repeated visits in such casual visitors.
Other than that, provide some extra interaction features that make customers want to visit your website time & again. Some suggestions in this regard are – run a blog that covers travel destination & other related topics, post videos on your blog, feature travelers’ experience, and run contests. Going extra mile for your customer will certainly bring you the extra attention.
Implementing above mentioned practices will definitely help you stand apart as a business, but you shouldn’t stop there. Always keep a close check on your immediate competitors – What they are offering, how is their online presence, and so on. Use tools like SEMrush to analyze your competitor’s online presence, as it will help you strategize your business better.
Additionally, keep a track of the latest & upcoming trends in technology and in the travel industry. Implement needed changes in a timely manner & stay ahead of competitors.