Ikaalisten Matkatoimisto found the right cure for Covid-19 induced travel fever - and their business
Would you believe that you could travel to the Greek Island of Evia, the Keila Waterfall in Estonia, or see beyond the Glamorous City-State on the French Riviera, i.e., Monaco, in under 20 euros and with a real live travel guide? During the pandemic? Well, you can!
The Finnish travel agency Ikaalisten Matkatoimisto initiated several development projects to combat the havoc the coronavirus was wreaking on the travel and tourism industry. Increasing domestic tourism was an obvious development project, but one of the other projects was more outside of the box: virtual travelling. Esa Talonen, CEO of Ikaalisten matkatoimisto says:
As a travel agency, we have a fair amount of customer data to begin with. We enrich that data with customer surveys.
Booking info as such includes family size, age, place of residence, and what kind of group of travelers are taking the trip. The main attraction in the surveys for Ikaalisten Matkatoimisto is to ask the clients to profile themselves.
We know if the client is a couple, what age group they belong to, and whether or not they have children. In surveys, we pose questions about the type of travels our clients are looking for.
While finding out if the client is looking to see all the famous city sights, for an active holiday, a pampering spa experience, or nature hikes, Ikaalisten Matkatoimisto is conducting customer experience management. And enriching data.
The surveys pointed to increasing interest in virtual tourism.
Mapping success: zoom travels, actual locations, travel guides on locations
The first ever virtual trip headed to Estonia. It was a success and a promise for more due to email marketing, social media campaigns, and overall social media presence.
The idea is simple but effective: A travel guide takes the participants on a virtual trip that lasts about 1,5 hours on Zoom. The travel guide is on location, and there is a possibility for a Q&A after the tour. Online booking and the travels’ timeline from booking to trip are the definition of agile.
But it’s not just about the perfect product, it’s about who to tell, and how. Or, what is the best way to market your innovation?
In today’s consumer businesses, effective marketing is personalised. Personalisation entails the best customer experience and engagement. Take Ikaalisten Matkatoimisto’s Harry Potter virtual tour, for instance. The tour takes you on a trip around London that is significant for us who love Harry. The participants get to visit Diagon Alley (Leadenhall Market), the Leaky Cauldron (an optician in Bull’s Head Passage), and of course the whereabouts of platform 9 and ¾ in Kings Cross, to name just a few attractions on the way.
The Harry Potter virtual tour was targeted specifically for clients that are of a certain age.
You need data, an effective way of utilising it, and the right timing
Personalising marketing messages is not quite enough in and of itself. Esa Talonen explains:
Custobar has been our partner in determining how to personalise marketing in a timely manner.
The main marketing methods and channels have been email marketing, social media, and search engine marketing (SEM).
Retargeting has been the main method in social media. We used Google display remarketing to reconnect with clients.
Time will tell if virtual travels are here to stay. Esa Talonen certainly believes so, as do we.
There is no better way to get acquainted with an upcoming travel destination than visiting the location virtually before the trip.