Are you ready to strategize your travel branding? Start here! ☆ Young people travel. Be it for study abroad or volunteer abroad, they’re beginning to travel more and more—and the last thing they want is a hassle to deal with. That’s exactly why they look for the best program provider that can ensure an optimal customer experience.
While many businesses are just starting to bend over backwards for providing such experiences, program providers have been there, doing that from the outset. But is great customer experience enough for a business to thrive?
Definitely no! Other things matter as well, such as branding. Travel business branding is crucial, particularly because there is a plethora of program providers swarming the industry—but you already knew that. Everyone is striving to set their business apart and nothing can personify them better than branding. Effective travel business branding will provide you with a unique voice, personality, and values that make your business relatable to your target audience, leaving a lasting impression.
Here we discuss effective ways to grow your travel business branding; but first, we need to delve into why branding matters so much for program providers.
The importance of branding in marketing for program providers
Many program providers choose to advertise their programs through online databases that specialize in travel marketing (sound familiar?). Such companies often provide the opportunity to reach prospective participants, but their larger brand may submerge yours.
As an (non-industry) example, when customers order food from FoodPanda rather than the restaurant directly, they are more likely to associate the whole experience to FoodPanda. Then, if everything goes well, they’ll refer FoodPanda to their friends or head back to the site again and again, rather than the particular restaurant. Other than commission fee, you have to compromise on customer relationship when working with larger brands.
It may be a good option when your brand is new, but it is better to optimize your brand image and website so that your loyal customers can switch to your website seamlessly.
Bookings and sales are one of the most prominent advantages of branding. Since proper branding will make your business look more credible, customers will be more comfortable with trusting you with their wallets. Besides, when your brand will have a face, they will be more eager to recognize you among the horde of tourism businesses and they are more likely to remember your brand for longer.
How to grow your travel branding strategy
If you are struggling with travel marketing ideas, it is better to look for some tips that can give you a headstart and a direction to grasp customers. Even if your business is already flourishing and you have a long list of leads, investing your time and money in branding won’t harm anything. This will improve your online exposure and make your business more competitive.
Here are some steps to run a proper brand strategy for your program or business.
1. Come up with a brand story
Every brand has a story to tell. Sometimes the driving force is a trigger event, a leader pursuing his/her dream, or a mind-blowing idea that will turn the market upside down. You will always need a story to highlight how you can solve customers’ problems, get them to care about your business, and create an emotional connection.
Here is a great example of storytelling from Booking.com:
The video effectively highlights the values and vision Booking.com boosts throughout.
Knowing your brand story will help you highlight your brand values. Explain where it all started, what the driving force behind your business is, what your unique selling points (USPs) are, etc.
Tourism is a vital part of the Canadian economy. It is contributing to the GDP growth through opportunities, supporting over 1.8 million jobs across the country, and through direct revenue. The Canadian Travel and Tourism sector is doing everything to attract and engage with their audience, as depicted in the video below:
Always remember that your story should be of perfect length; not short enough to leave the message incomplete, but not long enough to bore off the customers.
2. Know your audience
When you know who you are targeting, it becomes much easier to connect with them by offering the experiences they actually want. Branding your business without having any idea who you are selling to will make your efforts and money go in vain.
Soho House is a global private members’ club for people in the creative industries. Their Instagram feed is lit with creative destinations, hotels/motels, and spaces to visit.
There are many types of travel targeted audiences (students, the first-timers, the avid travelers, etc.) and you have to determine the reason they travel, what questions or problems they encounter while traveling, or what they are missing out on if they don’t use your travel services.
3. Develop a strong brand identity
You need a face that can represent your business on the online and offline platform. Start with having a logo. Get inspiration from online travel logo templates on Canva, LogoDesign.net, or from a graphic designer of your choosing.
Get brochures printed or add a high-quality PDF to your website to handover your information to potential participants, and run a website that stands for your business round the clock across the globe for prospects in all time zones.
Once you are done, connect participants with your social media profiles too. Start a campaign on Instagram or Facebook and post photos from on-site programs to let your followers know what to expect from your brand.
4. Set the tone (and vibe) for your brand
When customers connect with a business, they—cautiously or incautiously—observe its personality, values, and the overall feel. This feeling varies from business to business, but make sure it stays consistent across all your marketing platforms. It establishes the tone for your business.
Make sure that the tone your brand carries is clear and distinct. Your tone may change as per the circumstances. While requesting payment, let’s say, you should sound serious. In contrast, if you request customers to sign up for a newsletter, you can sound fun and cool. Also, if you have bad news for your customers, do not sound cheerful. As for your tone, pursue flexibility but do not go too far from your brand’s voice.
5. Keep your brand message consistent
Having a consistent brand message across all marketing touchpoints can help potential participants know your brand and count on it, keeping your competitors out of sight. They will not trust your brand if you give them mixed signals.
Conveying the same message over and over again can give prospects a clear idea about what they are going to get from you. Since they will associate your brand message with the marketing materials, they will recall your program experiences by just peeking at your most recent Instagram post.
Travel business branding doesn’t have to be rocket science
Don’t rush branding; plan your strategy one step at a time and soon enough you will get a well-branded business with a beefed-up client base and pouring sales. The more you focus on branding, the greater your business will strengthen. TL;DR:
- Everyone in your team should be aware of what your brand means to your targeted audience
- Make sure that your participants get the benefits they value the most
- Leverage your logo, slogan packaging, signage, and other important branding elements to increase awareness
- Keep marketing and communication seamlessly integrated using a consistent tone and brand message
- Establish credibility and branding persona in the niche market
- Never undermine the potential of a well-designed website
- Stay active on public forums and Quora to stay aware of the customer questions you need to answer
- Create email marketing templates as per your brand design
- Reward your participants or alumni with discounts and sales for every referral
- Let your people use social media to communicate with prospects and show them your business’s human side
We hope these guidelines will work for your brand! Travel branding is no rocket science, nor does it have to be. It is all about improving your odds of success. You can make a difference using properly specified guidelines, but at the end of the day, success and failure will greatly depend on how you have executed your brand strategy.
Ayesha Ambreen is a Creative Content Strategist, Top Author on Quora, Featured SlideShare Creative/Author, and DIY Designer (Canva). Best known for her creative visuals and viral content ideas, Ayesha’s work has been featured on blogs such as Entrepreneur.com, LifeHacker, CreativeBloq, Hubspot, and more. A writer by day and a reader by night, Ayesha loves to explore new realms of creativity and content through her work. Follow her: @AyeshaAmbreen