How to Change Travel Consumer’s Minds

 

Tourists and travelers of all kinds have particular tastes and preferences.

Sometimes strong, sometimes not. How profitable would it be to change travel consumer’s minds about their loyalties, tour choices and destinations? These are well targeted, influential, and loyal customers to your customer list.

 

Such insight in any business sector would be incredibly valuable. There are significant reasons why consumers stick to their beliefs and why they won’t buy your travel packages. I list a number of them below. Primarily, travelers stick to their usual brands because of inertia and preconceptions. So, what if something new caught their attention and moved them?

All you’d need to do is build that content, get it in front of them, collect their contact info, and begin to bring them on board.

The fact is, most travelers frequent the big travel companies/brands we all know, and they feel they’re good enough for them. Their brand preference is fairly secure.  However, here’s the thing.  They actually spend some energy and thought to block out other travel providers, unfairly. That’s what loyalty does — it’s a sales booster and protector.

They’ve made up their mind, and if you’re going to sell to them, you’re going to have to step up your brand positioning and marketing to get past this obstacle.  If you just advertise and wait for them to come to you, you’re likely going to be waiting a long time. That’s a fail. It’s important to upgrade your whole approach.

How Would You Persuade Them?

This brings us to the challenge of persuading them to switch. Big brands own the context of travel value, which is highly influential in decision making.  They get to tell travel consumers what’s important and significant and who can deliver the best experience.  Immediately your company is behind the 8-ball.

Which means you must persuade distracted consumers to drop that rival travel service, information source or tour provider. But will they be easy to convince? What would you do right now to change consumer’s views of your travel company?

If you don’t have the funds like Viator, Expedia, Travelocity or Tripadvisor, or the brand recognition, you’re going to have to smart about it.  Don’t worry, strategy will get you through this big challenge.

 

Good, but Not Good Enough

I’ve worked with clients who had a product and a source of traffic sufficient to compete, but they didn’t generate enough sales revenue. It seemed customer’s loyalty or belief in their current preferred choice was really confirmed. Low budget efforts just didn’t work.  The task to win these customers was much more difficult than imagined (or confidence to step up marketing was lacking).

To unseat the travel market leaders, you have to:

  • change the context, make them re-evaluate quality and relevance
  • reposition trustworthiness and credibility
  • reveal their pain points
  • make them willing to listen to your value proposition
  • hook them on something really important to them and show how their current brand is failing them
  • persist with sincere messages that you want them as your customer

Its not an easy task which is why you hire branding consultants and digital freelance marketers to work on these projects. Because, if you fail here, then nothing else you do matters. The fact is, travelers want the market leaders and winning them over is a challenge.

In some cases with former clients, which I’ve discussed in other posts, it was decided to harvest the low hanging fruit and “walk ins” rather than becoming targeted and assertive about getting the very best, most suitable customers in the right industry and sector where you are able to deliver strongly.

So, capturing customers from competitors is part of a complete marketing strategy of reaching the best, ideal customers for us — we’re the best match for them and we deserve to serve them.

How do you De-Hypnotize Travelers?

Yet we know big brands sometimes have established a hypnotic power over consumers. What travel brands do you absolutely prefer? Which airlines, hotels, resorts, tour companies, and restaurants do you frequently use? What would it take to convince you to switch from your preferred brands?

Likely, it would take quite an effort. I always choose Air Canada, whom I trust for comfort but I’ve booked so many times with other airlines (e.g., United Air Sardine Can and American Smashed Luggage).  But you should be comforted by research that shows that increasingly, today’s consumers are less brand loyal. And that’s due to it being difficult to protect digital brands from competitors who offer and deliver the exact same benefits with the same promotional collateral.

And Generative AI is making it all much worse. Yet, if you don’t try to foil the Generative AI copycats, you’ll go out of business. The harm of generative AI is too extensive to discuss here.

If a brand isn’t designed to be differentiated, it is easily pushed out of view of consumers and once disregarded, it will find it tough to reappear.

 

If you can capture another company’s customers effectively, you can likely establish your own brand better too. One thing for sure, is that big travel companies will be trying to steal your customers from you. So this matter of changing travel consumers minds has to be wisely integrated into your marketing content.

Why do Consumers Stubbornly Remain Loyal to their Preferred Brands/Providers?

It’s simple, no one else has offered better. No one reached with an improved offering.

And if we want to beat the market leaders, we must become the most significant “only one for me” supplier to them. It’s the essence of continuous, profitable business. Capturing that status and then keeping customers loyal is critically important.

And if the big companies have captured all the travelers with their powerful, unique value propositions, we have to find out why, how to win on the battlefield, and how to change their minds and buying decisions.

Your poor leads and sales performance might be greatly affected by your inability to compete or outshine your competitors.

I’m not saying winning competitions is the right goal, because competition is for losers is actually true.

So you’re not competing. You’re actually creating a whole new conversation with the consumer, away from your competitor, to reorient their perception of value. You’re growing this positioning of “most significant provider” such that competitors simply disappear into the void.

Customers aren’t necessarily trying to block out other product/service options. They’re overfocused on what they believe to be true, based on the criteria they’ve collected. New info, new ideas, new promises, new experiences and tools, can help disconnect them from their favorite companies.

Fixed Minds Protect Self-Esteem

Fixed minds are protecting self-esteem. The solution then is to help them preserve their self-esteem, by demonstrating that your products/services are the embodiment of their most important values. We must reinterpret our offering to show it’s actually more true to what the consumer respects. Consistent with their beliefs, perceptions, and anything that they consider part of their identity. And remember, people travel for a lot of reasons.

How Do Fixed Minds Get So Stuck?

  1. they have limited experience — they don’t what competitors offer
  2. get stuck on certain ideas — that are at the core of their life frame of reference
  3. their product choices hinge on their own self-identity — what’s consistent with how they see themselves
  4. they only trust brands with the values they cherish — and those brands who keep top of mind with them
  5. they’re unwilling to admit they don’t have all the information for a good choice — avoiding anxiety
  6. they’ve got the blinders on — which means they ignore or discount any new or contradictory information
  7. they fear loss of self-esteem and self-respect — after investing in a provider/brand image
  8. they fear loss when they pullback from decisions and investments made already — sunk cost loss
  9. they fear changing course — which brings uncertainty, confusion, risk, and loss of support from others
  10. they rely on observations/outcomes of previous decisions — and on the marketing messaging of their current brands
  11. they fear the anxiety of thinking about the matter of their choices/preferences — they lack confidence about travel decisions
  12.  they have assimilated important others’ values and statements about products/services — TV, web, social media, family, friends, influencers, and travel agents all push them into a framework that doesn’t support your company

How do You Change Perceptions of Your Brand?

The first step is know your prospective customers very well. Research tells you what they want, how they feel, and what they typically buy. Repositioning is presenting your brand as compatible with their values and consistent with how they view their past purchases.

It’s not just a few things. It’s a cluster of things that are connected emotionally and you need to show your brand is more true to their self-identity and values.  You should be asking them questions, doing polls, running contests to get feedback, and reviewing your software’s analytics reports.

Obviously, a lot of this has to do with confidence, financial safety, awareness, prejudices, and fear of losing self-esteem with a poor travel choice.

Here’s some Steps to Try:

  1. what is the UVP/brand positioning of your top competitors? Apparently, that’s what customers really want so studying them makes good sense.
  2. empathize with the customer’s perspective and preferences —  see how you can make your value proposition more relevant to them (personalization?)
  3. make your product appear to the ultimate embodiment of their values
  4. study your target market thoroughly and spell out their values/beliefs
  5. compare your product value points to key competitors
  6. highlight shared values or objectives or common ground — to create a sense of unity and cooperation
  7. understand the emotional drivers — things that created their buying intent emotions (images, memories)
  8. study the copy and designs competitors use in their marketing — what is that communicating?
  9. pose a statement or questions that get prospects to evaluate their current chosen brands in some way
  10. create customer stories and testimonials that reveal how others with the same values made the switch and the contentment they are now feeling
  11. offer something to allow the prospect to try so they can evaluate your claims and promise (free trial)
  12. provide customer reviews about their tour or travel experience in detail
  13. ask them to reflect on what they are not happy with in their current provider, then promote those aspects of your product that resolves their disappointment
  14. get them to reflect on their future travels and how they’ll have new needs then
  15. discuss travel trends that your competitors are weak in providing for (their brand looks obsolete)
  16. published respected travel influencers, industry raters, and expert’s ratings of your product

There you have a brief look at how to win over travel consumers and position your travel brand, products and services as the ideal “only one for me” experience. That’s how you disappear the competition.

They’ll choose one provider and they’re likely to remain with your company as you become part of a stubborn view of themselves and the travel experiences that define their self-identity.  Now your competitors will have to find a way to win them back!

Enjoy the challenge of this tug of war, and make you’re master of the battleground and ready to deploy the most persuasive, effective creative content to capture big market share.

Contact me at 416 998 6246 to discuss working with you. If you’ve got a challenge for your travel agency, software firm, or tour company, I’d be delighted to discuss the opportunity.

 

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