Travel companies should be wary of advertising on price alone during the recession, a panel of marketing experts have warned.
In a Guild of Travel and Tourism panel discussion at World Travel Market, analysis consultancy Data2decisions director Karl Waver said travel companies should beware of the impact on a brand caused by heavy discounting.
“Price promotion could damage your brand in the long term but you might have to do it if you have inventory to shift,” he said. “You are better to do niche offers that are very targeted or offer discounts privately when you are face to face with a customer.”
Travel consultant Justin Cole said companies should find new ways of adding value. “Differentiate your brand by adding extras for free – don’t compete on price alone.”
But Hotels4u sales andmarketing director John Harding said travel companies had no choice but to try to offer the lowest price. “People will choose the cheapest price, even if it is by one penny. Price comparison sites have removed the opportunity to add value.”
Customers’ behaviour will change during the recession, Google head of travel James Van Thiel said. “People are still searching for travel-related queries but their behaviour is changing and they will be spending longer on research, so you should rotate ads to find out what works best.”
The panel agreed that companies should invest more in marketing during the downturn. Harding said: “Allocate more to marketing in bad times. I’d cut my overheads and wages and put thosesavings towards marketing.”
Delegates were advised to try something new, such as online marketing. Cole said: “Look at what’s been successful for you in the past and spend more on that. But also look at digital advertising or affiliate marketing.”