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How to fill rooms during lean times with tactical marketing

Posted on 16 Aug 2011 at 20:14 pm by Brad Gurrie General Manager, Australia and Singapore, Travelzoo Australia

The travel industry is now blessed or some may say cursed with hundreds of options to distribute travel products, OTA, SEO, SEM, EDM and on it goes to the point we run out of three-letter acronyms but each of these channels hold a very important place in the distribution pyramid.

Travel suppliers need to have a variety of tools in their arsenal to handle the volatility of the travel industries demand patterns. Relying on one or two demand generation tactics will no longer cut it as the industry continue to evolve into a multi dimensional distribution network.

Filling inventory during peak times is something that is a given but filling your inventory when there is no demand is something that takes a lot more effort and planning. Employing tactical marketing is way for travel suppliers to reverse market trends and maintain their integrity.

Tactical marketing is the art of being able to get people to experience your product who were never planning on utilizing your service without displacing existing business.

Here are the top five tips to execute a tactical marketing campaign:

1. Where to send your tactical offer
Choosing the right forum where you distribute your tactical offer is critical. You need to create an immediate impact, which means you need to use ‘push media’ such as print, TV or email as opposed to ‘pull media’ that is search based. 

2. What is the competition up to
Before you craft the killer deal, conduct extensive market research. The last thing you want to do is going to the effort of creating and executing a tactical offer only to see your competitor get all of the up lift in bookings. To avoid this make sure you are bench marking the competitive set that prospective consumers put you in. Knowing what the competition is up to requires you to research on the Internet, make phone calls and even undertake site visits. Set up Google alerts that will notify you when your competition is active online, this is a free service.

3. Crafting the killer offer
The primary purpose of running a tactical marketing campaign is to get people to experience your product that had never planned to, fill in your need periods and create an opportunity that converts the customer into lifelong clients. To do this you need a wow deal. Consumers need to see your deal and have them ask themselves the question - why wouldn’t I do this, as opposed to why would I go.

Price is important but a tactical offer should be stacked full of value. These are elements that don't cost you a lot of money but consumers value. Things like free upgrades, a bottle of wine in the room on arrival or discounts such as two for one breakfast or dinner all go a long way to adding o the experience of the offer. Choosing value “add-ons” that don’t inflate the price of your offer all work to creating a wow deal.

4. How long to run the campaign
It is essential to create urgency when launching your tactical offer. If you are a CBD hotel you can be very aggressive in your booking window for the tactical offer such as 48 to 72 hours should yield you very good results. If your product is further afield and requires planning then a 7- 14 day booking window may be more appropriate.

5. Track, track, track
The best part of running a tactical campaign is you can track the success. We have seen that using promo codes that are supported by most web booking engines are an effective way to track a campaign. Don’t forget about the phone, although everyone is talking the internet, the phone still yields a great returns and gives you the opportunity to up-sell while you have them on the line. Having said this, phone tracking alone can have its pitfalls as suppliers can only get a sense of the effectiveness of the campaign as opposed to the detailed data.

Tags: Tactical marketing , offers , travel distribution , OTA , SEO , SEM , EDM