This January over 50% of travellers will be using their computers or mobile devices to research and book the best possible deal for their holiday, and they won’t be disappointed by the number of options available to them.  At this competitive time of the year (in a sector that is already notoriously competitive) travel brands need to work even harder to make sure that their products are being seen, that they are offering what the customer wants, and that they can convince those customers to convert on-site. So now the end of December (and dare I say it, Christmas) is approaching, what should you be taking into consideration as we move into the busy peaks period?

Keep in line with your business strategy

The chances are your business will have an overarching strategy for peaks that they need all channels to push – so don’t get distracted. Make sure you’re aware of any above-the-line campaigns that your brand is running, and whenever possible try and arrange for your marketing assets and placements to compliment this. Be aware if the business has any particular destinations or seasons that they need to drive bookings to. Performance marketing isn’t just about generating sales, but also about generating the right sales in the right areas.  Make sure your various marketing channels are communicating and assisting each other. When all channels are working together instead of in silo, the goals and targets set for the whole business are more likely to be met.

Promotions change. Be prepared

Whether your January strategy was planned out months ago or you are still waiting to find out what your key sales messages will be, never forget that plans can and do change.  It might be a simple change of destination push, or that you’ll be told about a surprise sale with less than a day’s notice. If customers aren’t purchasing in a way anticipated by commercial teams, offers and discounts are likely to change in order to divert bookings to more necessary areas of the business. By spreading out your activity over the course of January and February you will ensure that even if a new sale should pop up unexpectedly, you are still likely to have some coverage that can be tailored to fit your needs. Most experienced publishers in the travel space will be familiar with this sort of situation and will be able to accommodate small last minute changes to copy.  

Know what works, but now is the time to try new opportunities

With limited budgets and ambitious targets, placing your spend with suppliers that you know will deliver is always a failsafe option. If you’re looking for the right time to test new opportunities though, this is it. With the natural boost that travel merchants and publishers naturally experience in January, this is the right time to be trying out new placements with new publishers to get a real idea of the potential uplift it can offer your businesses. Don’t be afraid to place small amounts of budget with new suppliers so you can assess the impact – you may well end up adding to your repertoire of go-to partners for future key booking periods.

Negotiate rates on last minute space

If you find yourself approaching the end of December without as much coverage booked as you would like – don’t panic. You may not have the same selection of top spaces available to you as the early birds, but that doesn’t mean that no space is available. Media owners often struggle to shift last-minute inventory. If you’re in a position to act quickly, you may be able to secure some very favourable rates. This is an excellent opportunity to secure extra exposure, try out some different activity and use the results for future reference. This is a double edged sword though: whilst discounted last minute space is rare, there will of course be media owners who are in high demand from other travel merchants with premium rates attached to last minute bookings.

Use your conversion tools

So you’ve managed to grab a customer’s attention and get them onto your site. Once you have them there, make sure you keep them!  Surveys by blue chip travel brand Thomas Cook shows that trust and reassurance are two of the most important drivers of customer choice. Ensure that your customer feels reassured about booking with you – both about their holiday experience and the value of the deal that they are getting. Don’t be afraid to use any conversion tools at your disposal. Targeted site overlays can make the difference between a user abandoning after research or proceeding to make a booking, and basket abandonment tools are an invaluable way to bring a user back to your site in a helpful, non-intrusive manner. This will give you the best possible chance of converting those valuable users that you have worked so hard on winning.