The Travel Buying Cycle

October 23, 2023 | Megan Kinnaird
Dream. Plan. Book. Experience. Share.

Travel has the remarkable ability to create enduring memories that last a lifetime. It starts with inspiration, whether it’s a weekend getaway with friend or a much-awaited honeymoon. Understanding and catering to the five stages of the buying cycle is crucial for effectively marketing to potential travellers. These stages are the dreaming phase, the planning phase, the booking phase, the experiencing phase and sharing phase. In this blog post, we explore each of these stages and how you can market to holiday-makers in each part of the cycle.

1. Dreaming Phase

In the dreaming phase, potential travellers are at the initial stage of considering a trip. They might be inspired by social media, travel blogs, or conversations with friends. At this stage, they are seeking inspiration and ideas. Here’s how you can market to them:

  • Content Marketing: Create engaging and visually appealing content on your website or blog that showcases different destinations, travel experiences, and adventure stories. Use captivating images and videos to inspire potential travellers.
  • Social Media Marketing: Leverage platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to share stunning travel imagery, stories, and travel tips. Encourage user-generated content after a guest has completed their stay, to build a community of travellers sharing their dreams and aspirations.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list and send out newsletters with travel inspiration, exclusive travel deals, and destination spotlights. Engage subscribers with captivating subject lines and content that piques their interest.
  • Collaborations: Partner with select travel influencers and bloggers to feature your travel products or services in their content. Their reach can help expose your brand to a wider audience.

2. Planning Phase

In the planning phase, travellers have a clearer idea of where they want to go and are starting to research the specifics of their trip, including accommodations, activities, and transportation. Here’s how you can market to them:

  • Paid Advertising: Use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on platforms like Google Ads and social media to target users actively searching for travel-related keywords. Create compelling ad copy that highlights your unique offerings.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your website for relevant keywords related to destinations, accommodations, and activities. This will help your website appear in search engine results when travellers research their trip.
  • Content Marketing: Create detailed travel guides, itineraries, and blog posts that provide valuable information on various aspects of travel. This positions your brand as an expert and resource for travellers in the planning phase.
  • Email Marketing: Continue to engage with subscribers, offering personalized recommendations, exclusive deals, and helpful planning tips to assist them in their decision-making process.

3. Booking Phase

In the booking phase, travellers are ready to make a decision and complete their travel arrangements. They’re looking for the best deals, convenience, and reassurance. Here’s how you can market to them:

  • Conversion Optimisation: Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and offers a seamless booking process. Display clear pricing, availability, and secure payment options.
  • Special Offers and Discounts: Promote special offers, discounts, and package deals to entice travellers to make a booking. Create a sense of urgency through limited-time promotions.
  • Testimonials: Display authentic reviews and testimonials from previous travellers to build trust and credibility. Positive feedback can be a powerful influencer in the booking phase.
  • Retargeting Ads: Use retargeting campaigns on Google Ads and Meta Ads to reach potential customers who have shown interest in your website but haven’t booked yet.

4. Experiencing Phase

The Experiencing phase is when travellers are actively on their trip, immersing themselves in the destination and enjoying the experiences they’ve planned. Here’s how you can enhance their experience and encourage repeat business and positive word-of-mouth:

  • World-Class Service: During their trip, provide exceptional customer service, personalized recommendations, and assistance with any unexpected issues. Ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting positive impression.
  • Engagement on Social Media: Encourage travellers to share their experiences on social media, asking them to tag you in their posts, Reels or Stories when they do so. Repost their content, engage with their posts, and showcase the real-time experiences they’re having.

5. Sharing Phase

The Sharing phase occurs after holiday-makers return from their trip, and it’s a critical opportunity to harness their enthusiasm and generate new business. Here’s how you can capitalize on this phase:

  • Request Reviews: Encourage guests to leave reviews on popular review platforms like Google Reviews or TripAdvisor and feature them on your website and social media. Positive reviews can significantly influence potential travellers.
  • User-Generated Content: Continue to feature and celebrate user-generated content, such as photos and stories from their trip, on your website and social media. This can serve as authentic testimonials.
  • Return-Traveller Promotions: Reward past customers by offering exclusive discounts for repeat stays on your website or paid marketing channels.
  • Email Follow-Up: Send post-trip emails thanking guests for choosing your services and asking for feedback.

Understanding and catering to the five stages of the travel buying cycle is essential for successful marketing in the travel industry. By providing inspiration, valuable information, and a seamless booking experience, you can guide potential travellers from their initial dreams to booking their dream vacation.

Let us help guide the way in the ever-changing industry that is digital marketing for travel. Get in touch with us on today!

The Power of Video Marketing in the Hospitality Industry