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Customer Segmentation as the key to a Rapid Recovery for Travel Marketers

In its June Customer Sentiment Report, Fuel Travel noted that over 37% of people surveyed want to travel within sixty days. Fuel Travel also reported that 60% of people are willing to travel within two hours of their home this summer and over 40% of millennials are willing to go to an outdoor destination within the next month. All of this equates to the fact that people want to, and will, travel this summer. However, due to a variety of factors, travel will look different from previous years. Different behaviors demand that brands look at customer segmentation and acknowledge that new considerations win an immediate wallet share of people who want to travel. 

Segmentation has always been a key part of marketing strategies. We use various data points to differentiate consumers and the more we can individualize them, the more differentiation can impact our messaging and the channels that we use to promote products and offerings. When you Google the phrase “Right Message, Right People, Right Time” one of the results is “The Holy Grail of Marketing”. At Merkle, we think that the sequencing should, in fact, be “Right Person, Right Time, Right Message” as putting people first is the key. Right now, there are three Key Segmentation Strategies that should be driving your marketing efforts:

  1. Loyalists
  2. Younger Audiences
  3. Geographically Favorable Audiences

Loyalists are obvious. These are the people who have already had experiences with your brand and are owned audiences. Targeting loyalists with CRM and Social and testing different offers to them is the way to win wallet share now. We also recommend putting first-party data into the Merkle Economic Resiliency Dashboard to find the people and regions that have the highest propensity to travel.

With the knowledge that younger people want to travel first, it is recommended that younger people should be a key target.

A key benefit of targeting this audience is creating the opportunity for a long-term and very profitable relationship with these new consumers.

Finally, to cast the net wider, individuals in geographies that are open to travel should be your prospecting audience. Using the Merkle Economic Resiliency Dashboard noted above is a great way to find these people. Geo-Targeted Ad Buys and localized SEM are tactics to consider.

It is also important that new considerations are part of a strong segmentation and communications strategy. There are new challenges, such as the fact that some parts of the country are still in a state of closure, and not all airports have the same number of routes etc., that should inform your strategy. You should also consider new objectives when segmenting. With the cancellation and loss of so much travel in the first half of the year, it is imperative that you prioritize winning an immediate share of wallet. Finally, consumers are demanding new communications around policies and cleanliness.  How you use communications to reinforce relationships with loyal customers, or find new ones, can help drive transactions.  As another consideration, we really recommend introducing a robust testing plan with these communications.

People do want to travel this summer. The opportunity to drive revenue immediately is real and that can also help with reinforcing relationships with current customers and finding new customers with whom to have that long-term relationships. Being thoughtful about who you target and how you talk to consumers will help you drive those transactions.

Want to learn more? Check out this webinar to dive deeper into segmentation as well as insights on Economic Resilience and Search strategies.