Taking a break is in the hands of strangers

Easter’s fast approaching, and for many it will be the first opportunity for a break in the sunshine this year. The way people are booking a holiday has changed for good, whether it’s a family planning a UK break or an older couple looking to go long haul.

Jo Roberts
Jo Roberts

All age groups are now looking to strangers to help decide which resort to plump for. And it’s the older age group (55+) who are influencing holiday bookings the most, according to a study by Total Media.

Looking at reviews online is now a common way of filtering out the good hotels from the bad. One hotel marketer confessed to me that it’s much more challenging because he can no longer push out marketing messages. He has to ensure the guests have the very best experience so that they feel compelled to write about it. He knows that if anyone isn’t happy about their experience then anyone around the world can read about it on TripAdvisor or similar sites. I’m sure other travel marketers feel the same way.

But it seems that travel marketers have to try the hardest with the older demographic because they are the ones who are most likely to spread the word via review sites. So what can marketers do about this? The study suggests that incorporating these views onto branded sites is one way of engaging with consumers, and preventing them from going onto other sites. The thinking behind this is, if the good and the bad are being said about a brand it’s more beneficial to have it available on the brand’s site than having it available on someone else’s site.

It seems there’s no longer anywhere for the travel industry to hide. While Thomas Cook can push out its television advert showing Jamie and Louise Redknapp having a fantastic time in the sunshine, if the advertised experience doesn’t live up to reality, we will all know about it, especially if someone aged 55 and over has a bad experience.

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