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5 Travel Trends for 2021 — and How Marketers Can Capitalize With Call Tracking

Derek Andersen Copywriter, DialogTech

COVID-19 is causing radical shifts in the way consumers engage with travel providers. To thrive in 2021, travel and hospitality marketers need to anticipate future trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Below, I list some of the most important trends travel marketers will see in 2021, as well as how a call tracking solution can help you capitalize on them.

1. Travel Ad Spend Will Decrease

Travel ad spend has been steadily climbing over the past few years. From 2017 to 2019, it increased by 51%, from $3.64 to $5.5 billion. But as consumers limited their travel in response to COVID-19, travel and hospitality companies pulled back their marketing budgets. In 2020, travel marketing spend dropped by 41%.

Some consumers will begin taking trips again in 2021, but many will limit their travel due to safety concerns. The projected ad budgets for 2021 and beyond reflect this outlook — eMarketer anticipates travel ad spending will reach $3.74 billion next year, a 15% increase from 2020.

With limited budgets for the foreseeable future, travel marketers will need to make every dollar count. In 2021, it will be critical to prove your digital marketing ROI and optimize your spend to drive more booking calls at a lower cost.

2. Travel and Hospitality Companies Will Receive Higher Call Volumes

With in-person interactions limited by shelter-in-place orders, consumers relied on the call channel to speak with agents, inquire about travel packages, and make bookings. In fact, monthly calls to cruise lines in August 2020 were up 79% from March 2020.

Though lockdown restrictions have since been eased, many consumers are still restricting their in-person interactions due to safety concerns. Therefore, call volume is likely to be higher than it was during previous years, as consumers will use this channel to get information and make bookings.

3. Consumers Will Begin to Take Trips Again — With the Proper Precautions

After a dip in early spring, Americans are ready to travel again. 36% of the U.S. population traveled in August 2020. And 64% of U.S. adults who currently work from home said that they are likely to book a nearby vacation rental between now and the end of the year.

However, the way consumers travel is changing. Consumers are taking weekend trips and renting vacation homes, where they can maintain social distancing from other travelers. In September, Google saw upticks of 100% or higher for the search terms “beach rental,” “cabins for rent,” and “lake house rental.”

In addition, consumers are demanding higher standards of cleanliness from travel providers. According to Google, 32% of consumers said “enhanced, hospital-grade cleaning of hotels” would make them most likely to book a stay.

To adapt to this shift, travel companies need to take all possible precautions against COVID-19 and provide socially distanced vacationing options that make travelers feel safe. Travel marketers need to ensure they clearly communicate these COVID-19 precautions to consumers.

4. More Consumers Will Engage With Travel and Hospitality Companies on Mobile Devices

For many years, travelers have increased their use of mobile devices to research vacations. There has been an even more dramatic increase of mobile usage in 2020, as consumers limit in-person interactions with travel agents and companies.

Researching on a smartphone is the first step for many travelers. In fact, 83% of business travelers have booked travel after doing research on their smartphone. And many travelers complete the booking phase on their mobile devices as well. 61% of travelers in the U.S. have booked and paid for travel through their smartphone within the past year — either via a call or online.

Providing a seamless mobile experience for consumers — online and over the phone — will be critical for travel and hospitality marketers in 2021.

5. Travelers Will Demand Seamless Omnichannel Experiences

Going hand-in-hand with the last trend, travel consumers will demand seamless omnichannel experiences across their entire journey. To earn their business, you’ll need to ensure they feel valued and known every step of the way.

83% of consumers say they require a positive experience to remain loyal to a brand — regardless of the channel they’re engaging on. If travel marketers fail to provide seamless experiences for consumers, the stakes are high. 82% of consumers would switch providers as a result of a bad experience.

To get an edge over the competition in 2021, travel and hospitality companies need to embrace personalization across channels. This means providing a seamless experience as consumers transition from online research to over-the-phone booking to leaving a review.

How Marketers Can Use Call Tracking to Capitalize on These Travel Trends

The trends above paint a bigger picture of how travel consumer behavior is changing. In 2021, in-person interactions with travel providers will be limited due to COVID-19, placing increased importance on the call channel.

With more consumers researching online first and calling agents and locations to get their questions answered, travel marketers need to have a strategy in place to ensure that they’re providing a seamless experience over the phone. As I mentioned above, expectations for the consumer journey are at an all-time high — and this includes the call channel. Failing to deliver frictionless call experiences will cost you revenue.

Understand the Marketing Sources Driving Your Most Valuable Phone Calls

Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech allow you to understand the webpages, marketing campaigns, and keywords driving not only the most calls — but the highest quality calls to your agents and locations. This allows you to optimize your marketing spend for the programs that are truly driving the most revenue.

For instance, a search campaign for a certain airline deal may be driving a high volume of calls to your agents. However, once you use a call tracking solution, you may discover many of these calls are not booking-related — they’re cancellation requests from customers who already paid for a flight. You could then decrease spend on this campaign, and instead allocate it to one that’s driving more booking calls. This increases the overall revenue potential and quality of the calls coming into your phone lines.

Sample Report: See which marketing sources are driving the most sales opportunity phone calls

Detect Issues Impacting Your Call Conversion Rates

Call tracking and analytics solutions like DialogTech help you create seamless call experiences that increase customer acquisition. They provide detailed reports on answer inbound call rates and call handling performance at each location or call center that you can use to detect customer experience issues.

Sample Report: See how your locations are handling the calls driven by your marketing

For example, you can see if your calls are going unanswered at specific locations and what days and times those unanswered calls occur. You can then diagnose if your marketing is sending calls to locations when they are closed or understaffed, and make adjustments.

View Transcriptions and Recordings to Understand What’s Happening on Calls

Call tracking and analytics platforms like DialogTech give you a searchable database of call recordings and transcriptions that you can tap into. This allows you to see what’s occurring on the inbound calls your marketing is driving to call centers and locations and use these insights to make optimizations that drive more conversions.

If unconverted calls are an issue, you can analyze your recordings and transcriptions to see if your locations, call centers, and remote agents are saying the right things when consumers call. You can then pinpoint any issues. For instance, are they failing to mention recent promotions? Are they accurately describing the safety precautions you’re upholding at your vacation destinations? You can then take steps to remedy them. In addition, you can share these recordings and transcriptions with your locations and/or call centers to use as coaching tools to improve performance.

Sample DialogTech call transcript

You can also use transcriptions to discover common caller questions and concerns — such as FAQs on your cleaning procedures — and add them to your website and product pages to get more SEO visits and improve conversion rates.

Use IVRs and Dynamic Routing to Manage High Call Volumes

If you’re experiencing unmanageably high call volumes, you can also consider using your call tracking solution to set up an IVR (interactive voice response). You can configure an IVR to ask callers why they’re calling, route them to the best destination based on their responses, provide answers to common questions (such as FAQs about your COVID-19 precautions and new travel deals), and more.

You can also set up dynamic routing rules, in tandem with or independent of your IVRs. Below are several call routing configurations that can improve conversion rates for travel companies:

  • Route by time of call: Have calls forwarded to specific agents, locations, or IVRs based on your location hours.
  • Route by geographic location: Send callers to the best agents or locations based on where they’re calling from.
  • Route by service they’re interested in: Send callers to specific call center agents or locations based on the service they’re interested in.
  • Route by where they are in the customer journey: Send callers to a particular call center or location based on where they are in the funnel. For instance, are they looking to book a hotel room over the phone or are they calling after their stay because they left something behind?
  • Prioritize high-intent callers: For example, send callers who called from inside your online booking portal to the top of the queue so they’re answered right away.

Set up rules in DialogTech to route more calls to your highest-performing locations

To learn more marketing strategies to drive booking calls, check out our ebook, The Travel Marketer’s Guide to Driving More Booking Calls from Search.

Want to learn how call tracking can help you drive more travel bookings? Download our ebook, The New Consumer Trends Impacting Travel Marketing Now.

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