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Travel Is Making a Comeback — And Marketers Need Conversation Intelligence to Stay Competitive

Derek Andersen Senior Content & SEO Specialist, DialogTech

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the travel industry hard in 2020, as consumers canceled their vacations due to lockdown restrictions and safety concerns. To date, the pandemic has cost the global tourism industry over $935 billion.

But in March 2021, US travel started to see a resurgence. With lockdowns lifted and millions of vaccine doses administered daily, consumer confidence is rising. Below are some recent indicators that US travel is poised to bounce back:

  • On March 25, 2021, 1.4 million people cleared TSA checkpoints in the U.S. — nearly double the number from a year ago.
  • The leisure and hospitality sector gained 280,000 jobs in March 2021.
  • 71% of adults in the U.S. say that the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines makes them feel more hopeful and optimistic about traveling in 2021.
  • 65% of Americans plan on traveling more in 2021 than they did pre-COVID.

At DialogTech, we’ve also seen clear signs that travel is making a strong comeback.

“A lot of our travel customers are seeing a spike in booking calls right now,” said Steve Ward, Director of Customer Success leading the Consumer Vertical at DialogTech. “This is especially true for travel providers who offer higher-value considered purchases, like vacation packages. They’ve found that the COVID-19 vaccine — as well as more consumer-friendly refund policies and vouchers — have made travelers more confident to book trips in Q3 and Q4 of 2021, as well as into 2022.”

This surge in demand presents a huge opportunity for travel marketers to drive more customers and bookings. But it’s important to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way consumers interact with travel providers — phone calls are a more important piece of the journey than ever before.

This blog covers why connecting digital marketing to phone calls is critical for travel marketing success in 2021 and how you can drive more call conversions with a conversation intelligence solution.

Calls Are Common Conversions for Travel Marketers

Most travelers begin their journey online. In fact, for 60% of travelers, the first step is placing an online search.

However, when it comes time to move forward and make a booking, travelers often prefer to speak to a live agent. This is especially true during the pandemic, as travelers face uncertainties about safety measures, cancellation policies, trip insurance options, if a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination is required, and more. Speaking to an agent is often the best way to clear up concerns and get specific questions answered.

But not all calls have the same value to marketers. “To succeed right now, travel marketers need to understand if they’re driving the right kinds of calls to their agents,” said Ward. “Otherwise, you could be wasting your budget on ads that are driving more cancellation calls than booking calls — and not even know it.”

How Travel Marketers Can Connect Phone Calls to Digital Marketing Results With Conversation Intelligence

As demand for travel returns, advertising budgets are set to bounce back as well. Ad spend for travel and transport companies is forecasted to grow by almost 30% in 2021. In this saturated landscape, how can you stay one step ahead of your competitors? To solve this challenge, leading travel marketers are using conversation intelligence solutions.

What is conversation intelligence? It’s a solution that combines call tracking with conversation analytics to capture actionable marketing insights from callers.

Cutting-edge travel marketers are using conversation intelligence solutions to bolster their digital campaigns. With this technology, you can track the calls your digital marketing is driving, as well as what’s happening in those conversations — if it was a sales lead, which packages were discussed, if a booking was made, and much more. You can then push those insights into your martech stack to inform your content and bidding strategy.

Sample DialogTech call transcription

In addition, you can use conversation intelligence to create better call experiences that increase conversion rates. For example, you can create custom call routing rules to prioritize your highest-intent callers, detect and correct issues harming conversion rates at your locations, use call transcriptions and recordings to coach your agents, and much more.

“Understanding the voice of your customers is critical for travel marketers right now,” said Ward. “People are calling with a wide range of COVID-19-related questions, which can clog up your phone lines and create barriers to purchase. By understanding the questions callers are asking and preemptively answering them in your ad messaging and on your website, you can ensure your audience has all the information they need to make a booking.”

Whether your digital advertising budget is tight or bouncing back to pre-COVID levels, you can leverage conversation intelligence to drive better marketing results.

“We’ve seen travel marketers — regardless of the budgets at their disposal — use conversation intelligence to dramatically increase booking volume,” said Ward. “Those with large budgets are using DialogTech to validate and improve the quality of leads they’re driving from paid media. Those with tight budgets are using our solution to unlock hidden revenue opportunities from their organic channels.”

Of course, the pandemic is still unfolding — and you’ll likely still need to make quick pivots to your messaging and strategy. A solution that gives you unparalleled access to the voice of the customer and deep insights into the experiences you’re providing is invaluable in this uncertain landscape.

How Conversation Intelligence Helps International Travel Marketers Create Better Experiences

It’s a complicated time for international travel providers. Every country has different travel regulations and restrictions, with some requiring negative COVID-19 tests for entry and others requiring a 14-day quarantine period. On top of that, vaccine passports may be on the horizon as well.

These complexities can make international travel difficult to navigate for the average consumer. This can cause them to shy away and stick to domestic options instead. Conversation intelligence can help international travel marketers better address these concerns.

“The international travel companies we work with are getting a lot of questions about the current Canadian lockdown, the new COVID-19 variants in Europe, travel vouchers, vaccine passports, and more,” said Ward. “The stakes for international travel providers are high — if they don’t effectively answer these questions and inspire confidence in their consumers, they’ll lose out on bookings. Conversation intelligence is a powerful tool to help you anticipate common questions and create better experiences. It’s why we’ve had leading international travel companies onboard our solution in the heart of the pandemic, while their budgets were tighter than ever.”

Additional Resources

85% of marketers believe inbound calls and phone conversations are a key component of their organization’s digital-first strategy. Learn more about how you can leverage conversation intelligence data with these resources:

Want to learn how you can leverage data from inbound phone calls to drive more revenue? Download our cheat sheet, Let’s Bust 5 Myths About Phone Calls That Hurt Your Digital Marketing ROI.

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