By Simon Goddard from Vibe (www.vibe.travel)
Selling travel for concert-goers and sports event attendees shouldn’t be like moving heaven and earth says Simon – and now is the perfect moment to take advantage of the recovery of public events
When asked by journalists why he robbed banks the infamous bank-robber Willie Sutton responded “because that’s where the money is”. Likewise, too much time and money is wasted in travel trying to persuade people to visit places they don’t want to go to.
Many of them already have made their mind up anyway and this is particularly the case for those travelling to a destination to experience an event such as a concert or sports match. There’s no need to move heaven and earth, why not just give them what they want? Like Willie, you should go where the money is.
There’s never been a better moment to do this as pop stars finally re-start the world tour schedule and with major sporting events – including the upcoming football World Cup in Qatar – reactivated for massive crowds with minimal COVID restrictions.
But how do you make sure that your online travel business is top of the list for places to book the whole travel package when planning to attend an event or experience?
As with so many ‘simple observations’ in life, achieving this is more complex than it might at first seem and that’s what puts many off. But the rewards are there and at Vibe we have many years of experience in successfully helping our clients use events to sell travel.
Whether you want to sell travel for a Champion’s League football match, consumer conventions, major concerts, or even festivals, we have consolidated our knowledge down into the following recommendations.
Only focus on events you have actual entrance tickets available to sell. This is very important, as the tickets are your ‘honey pot’. The minute you send someone away to another site to source the actual tickets they never come back.
Which events should you sell? Smaller and more obscure events are often richer pickings for these types of campaigns. Just type in ‘Formula One weekend trip’ into Google and you´ll see. Perhaps consider literary festivals on aristocratic estates, come-back concerts for old rock bands at venues with comfy seating, cookery courses in Tuscany with famous chefs, or lower league football or motor racing events?
At the beginning of the booking flow keep the concept of what you are offering super simple and concrete: ultimately it is just a package to attend X event. By making it a package to do event X and Y and Z, you could make your offering ‘confused’ and ultimately put people off.
Give the traveller total flexibility on the options they pick, they might not need a flight but value a hotel, or vice-versa.
Don’t just stop at offering a flight and hotel, consider selling extras like the airport transfer or even insurance. Not only are these extra commissions for you, often the commissions are nearly as high as the flight or hotel.
Ensure the traveller has the flexibility to amend the travel dates to either arrive early or stay on after the event. A lot of people want to take advantage of being in a city to explore it and take their time – but if you can’t offer them flexible dates they may want to go elsewhere. Consider too that they might want to stay in more than one hotel during the trip.
When sourcing the accommodation always explore options with your existing supplier partners first, for example taking advantage of allocations or a special deal just for the event.
As with so much in digital marketing, the lead price is what gets you traffic and keeps people moving through the booking process. So offer the cheapest options for the tickets and all the other elements, allowing people to upgrade as they go through the booking flow.
When marketing and selling the package really drive home, hard, the message that this really is a ‘complete package’: a one-off, one-stop affair.
Video is a great way to sell anything but in particular travel. You need to make the most of it here by showing the potential traveller exactly what attending this event – and all the services you´ll offer to get them there and back – is going to be like.
Most people wanting to attend the event will start the process with an online search. Use SEO to drive them to a tailored event specific landing page, but make sure to use the right key-word combinations and parameters in your PPC campaigns, for instance cutting out those who are based in or near to the destination already.
But don’t forget about your mailing lists and social media followers when promoting these packages, existing customers either might already be considering the event or could possibly be tempted to attend once they see your deals. Event-led packages are perfect fodder for ‘The Socials’.
When it comes to the post-sale follow-up marketing / sales opportunities, then consider cross-selling them other activities or events that they can enjoy once in that destination, be that a bus tour or gastronomy experience or whatever the main local attractions are.
On that note, in the post-sale process also explore the chance to sell ‘merch’ for the event in the booking flow too. Branded t-shirts, backstage passes, match programs, whatever – as long as it comes with a commission and the traveller would consider it relevant. But just like point number one, make sure you have the merch available to see – no sending people off to other sites!