Travel and tourism is a huge global industry that involves the sale of travel services including flights, hotels, holidays, excursions and transfers for business and personal travel.
Travel marketing involves the promotion of travel related products and services through a variety of marketing channels including, digital, advertising, promotions, customer loyalty, affiliate and direct campaigns.
What kind of marketing is required in the travel industry?
Digital marketing has changed the face of travel. 15 years ago most holidays and flights were booked through a travel agency, yes you had to actually leave your house and visit a travel shop, pick your holidays from a brochure and the best deals were written on felt tip on cards placed in a window!
Whilst retail travel is still an option it has been somewhat eclipsed by the ability to purchase travel goods online, enabling consumers to gain more accurate price comparisons and cheaper deals by going direct to the supplier.
Travel businesses use their websites, third party websites (affiliates), SEO and digital marketing to communicate their brand, products and services. Whilst social media can be used to manage customer interaction and boost brand presence.
Many recognisable travel brands like Best Western, Hilton and British Airways offer loyalty schemes as a way of marketing to their existing customers and creating brand loyalty, by using existing data about their customers purchases they can offer better incentives to drive additional sales. Customers can collect points and airmiles to make future trips cheaper.
Promotional campaigns feature heavily in travel marketing because the products i.e the sale of a hotel room or a flight and timescales for which they can be sold in are so limited they can never be truly set at one price for long, if demand is high the prices go up but if demand is low then prices are reduced to increase sales.
Advertising factors heavily in travel marketing and there are many high profile TV campaigns as well as advertisements in print and online. Smaller travel businesses can advertise locally and easily to specific markets they cater to online.
Branding is key to travel businesses and has become more important with the travel market being opened up with more competition than ever to suit all kinds of budgets, from the rise of the budget airlines to specialist luxury travel boutiques. Branding has become important in tying travel businesses to their target markets whilst differentiating from competitors.
Email marketing has been adopted widely and many travel businesses have adopted similar tactics to Amazon by using previous purchase preferences to promote similar goods or add-ons to their coming trips.
Affiliate marketing – many hotels and resorts use third party platforms to sell their services in combination with other products like flights and transfers, for example Expedia and hotels.com. These are website consumers visit for price comparisons on a range of hotels in the destination they want to visit, when they have found one they like they can purchase it along with flights
What skills and knowledge is useful for marketing in the travel industry?
Having a passion for travel is essential to this industry, an understanding of the various travel markets and marketing applications used is important to be able to align the right marketing campaign with a specific travel product.
Creativity – you could be tasked with coming up with new promotions to sell hotel rooms during the quiet season, this requires a creative approach to generate interest in people.
Web savvy with a good knowledge of digital marketing processes and platforms. You could be managing the website, social media channels, email campaigns and more, a good standard of English and ability to manage your time effectively are essential.
Travel marketing requires constant research and analysis of sales and marketing results, so the right promotional campaigns can be identified and created where required. You could be required to measure traffic to the website and online campaigns, producing monthly activity reports and
Check out pages on marketing communications and digital marketing specialisms to find out more about the general activities within, most of them apply to travel marketing.
Are there any qualifications available in travel Marketing?
Here is an overview on some of the travel related marketing qualification available but be sure to do your own research as this is not a complete list;
BTEC – Travel and Tourism – is a vocational qualification studied at sixth form / further education college, it aims to provide knowledge of the overall travel and tourism industry, the BTEC diploma is worth 2 A-levels that can lead to university or employment in the travel industry.
There are many travel and tourism BA Hon degrees that overview a range of topics involved in travel including marketing, management and advertising. Many travel and tourism degrees can be completed with a placement year and can lead onto a masters in travel and tourism. Here a a few examples:
Kingston College – HNC Travel and Tourism Management (includes an optional unit in travel marketing)
University of Northampton – International Travel and Tourism Management
Glyndwr University – BA Hons Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management
Middlesex University London – International Tourism Management and Marketing
I’m interested what now?
Depending on your level of experience you could transfer your existing skills into a marketing role in the travel industry, however if you don’t have enough experience then visit our guide to building experience through volunteering and interning.
Make sure you do plenty of research, the best place to start is by looking at current roles available in travel marketing so you can find out what skills and experience is required and you can start working on tailoring your CV and building up the experience and knowledge required.
Here are a few websites that may be useful to find out more information about careers in Travel:
TUI Travel – Find out about the digital, marketing & PR roles available on the TUI careers site
Travel Job Search – Recruitment website for travel and tourism, check out the roles in the marketing category to get an overview of the skills and experience requirements