Expedia CruiseShipCenters was faced with a major dilemma with the way their customers and potential customers were purchasing their product. Technology disruption in the industry had caused buyers to go online to plan and purchase travel. The more this happened, the less opportunity there was for the travel agent to work in tandem with the customer to plan their travel experience. Expedia CruiseShipCenters needed to reverse the current trend in order for their business to survive.
After conducting research, Extension Marketing determined that the real problem was a lack of understanding of how the industry worked and the features and benefits of working with a travel agent.
Extension Marketing’s approach was to point the market in the right direction and empower the customer to seek out the information they needed to make the correct buying decision. Once fully educated about the benefits of using the travel agent service offering, by having a local face to speak with, we anticipated a behaviour to shift.
The plan’s objective was to target travellers after they have made the decision to travel – but were unclear of the next steps. The core idea of the strategy was to create engaging content which not only promoted Expedia CruiseShipCenters services but educated potential travellers about the travel industry.
Extension Marketing produced an education video series, testimonials, blogs, social media posts and podcasts. An online portal was created that contained all content related to traveling, experiences, vacations and, more specifically, using a travel agent to do so. Expedia CruiseShipCenters became the main sponsor and curator of the site, using this portal to control the message and educate individuals on the benefits of using an agent in a fun, non-intrusive way. The goal was to bring as much value through the portal – and have the Expedia CruiseShipCenters agents as the friendly face at the end of the funnel. Travellers were driven to the portal via a digital marketing campaign which included SEO, AdWords, Facebook and Instagram ads.
Travellers were also introduced to Expedia CruiseShipCenters travel agents at community events, through local sponsorships and through digital advertising that communicated the benefits of using an agent (no cost, stress-free) all while building positive brand association with the feeling of fun and relaxation.
One such event was hosting the 13th Annual World Explorer Travel Show in late 2018. There travelers could meet Expedia CruiseShipCenters agents directly and learn about destinations and promotions. The event was also promoted via Facebook and Google AdWords.
The World Explorer Travel Show drew 1,600 people to the Expedia CruiseShipCenters booth which was a 100% increase in attendance from the previous year. All the marketing efforts resulted in the largest sales month they ever had for the company.