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The holiday season is right around the corner, which can only mean one thing: Black Friday is set to return with a bang.
With the most important commercial event of the year within sight, now’s the time to get a handle on your own strategy for the occasion. From marketing tips to securing the best travel deals for your clients, we’re here to help you make a success of Black Friday 2022.
Why do I need to prepare for Black Friday?
You don’t need to do anything – but by ignoring the commercial behemoth that is Black Friday, you run the risk of being overshadowed by competitors who understand the rewards this occasion can bring.
In a 2020 survey of customers from the US, UK and Australia, Skyscanner found that attractive deals (combined with pent-up travel demand) were a key driver for participants’ booking behavior: 90% of those surveyed said they were actively looking to purchase travel on Black Friday, with 27% of deal hunters hoping to book a family break. Perfect timing, what with Christmas on the horizon.
Over at The Hotels Network, results showed that traffic to their clients’ booking engines rose by 19%, with booking conversions spiking by a massive 73%. In addition to implying that readily-engaged customers may be waiting until the big day to complete their booking, this data also suggests that relevant and timely offers are more likely to secure the sale, possibly due to a sense of FOMO – a fear of missing offers, in this case.
In short, taking part isn’t a necessity, but it’s something you should certainly consider – especially when getting involved can be as simple as following the steps we’ve laid out below!
Step one: the best offers + the best destinations = bookings secured! (suggested timeline: >4 weeks before Black Friday)
When it comes to Black Friday, the best place to start is at the end of the process: what is it that your customers are hoping to book with you?
By visualizing what it is that’ll most appeal to your clients, you’ll be able to work backwards when building your Black Friday strategy. An invaluable tool for this stage of the process is The Compass, Bedsonline’s award-winning tool: search for trending destinations (including those with a lead time of >9 months ahead) to understand the types of trips your clients are looking to book over this all-important period.
When using The Compass, you might notice that some hotels are labeled with discounts. These are ideal options for your Black Friday campaign, so be sure to save them to your favorites for later. Additionally, you’ll be able to search for more discounted room nights by logging into the Booking Engine: simply scroll down to the ‘Promos’ section in our filters to see what’s currently on offer.
Did you know?: during our last Black Friday campaign, more than 1700 hotels signed up to promote offers to travel advisors in our network. This year is set to be bigger and better than ever – so make sure you’ve got a reminder set for November 22nd, when the 2022 campaign goes live.
Step two: identify your most valuable sales channel (suggested timeframe: 3 weeks before Black Friday)
How does your travel agency operate? If you work online – whether wholly or alongside your bricks-and-mortar model – you’re in a great position to capitalize on Black Friday travel deals.
Statistics show that online purchases tend to outweigh in-store buying over Black Friday, with footfall dropping by 21.7% between 2019 and 2020 before picking up again in 2021. Meanwhile, online purchases remained steady, with digital businesses raking in billions – some eCommerce providers even saw a 76% increase in sales versus the previous year. There may have been good cause for this disparity in earnings (a phobia of catching COVID if shopping in person, for example), however the convenience of online shopping cannot be denied: after all, the internet allows for super-fast comparisons and seemingly infinite choice.
While the online space is certainly a great place to be over Black Friday, the key to succeeding ultimately lies in your ability to cut through the noise regardless of how or where you sell. Check out our tips below to elevate your strategy!
If you operate in-store only:
It might take a little extra effort to put your best face forward, but there are certainly ways to appeal to customers (whether they exist or are yet to be acquired).
Sharpen your social media output by posting more frequently online, using The Compass’ trend insights to discover which destinations are popular in your market and using this information to create appealing social media content. Even if you’re not advertising Black Friday just yet, social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram are great channels for you to showcase your knowledge and build hype about the most exciting destinations.
Similarly, a little spruce up in-store could attract the eyes of curious passers-by. Consider printing out attractive flyers of top-trending destinations and hotels and pinning them to your storefront, or host a themed event. A Caribbean evening in your store – in which you could even serve non-alcoholic Pina Coladas to would-be customers! – is just one way to start showcasing top hotels in the region.
Finally, re-connecting with existing clients could help to keep your business top-of-mind. You never know: asking Mrs Miller how her last vacation was could just inspire her to start booking with you again.
If you operate online only:
Social media is just as important to websites as it is to a physical store – after all, website traffic won’t just drive itself! Use The Compass to identify trending destinations and share them on your Instagram page; offer travel advice and anecdotes through your blog if you have one (if you don’t, why not start now?); or simply set aside some time to engage with other users by browsing travel hashtags and joining conversations based around popular destinations.
Another top tip for increasing your online reach is to secure some glowing reviews. Make sure that you’re set up on Google or Trustpilot (or, at the very least, have a feedback page on your website/are willing to share examples of feedback on your social media pages), then reach out to clients who you know had a fantastic experience of booking with you. Even if their trip was a little while ago, their fond memories might inspire them to re-live the moment and share it with you…as well as with your next potential customer.
If you have the best of both worlds:
You’re in the best possible position. Consider a blend of our tips above to put your agency on the map, just in time for Black Friday!
Step three: tease your campaign (suggested timeframe: 2 weeks before Black Friday)
Once you’ve determined which channel will earn you your bookings this Black Friday, the next step is to let your customers know that great deals will be theirs to secure very, very soon.
We’ve already mentioned how rekindling your relationship with existing customers can go some way to bolstering your bookings, but if there’s one thing that could secure the sale, it’s the promise of a hefty discount. Be sure to pick up the phone and start connecting with your leads – by doing this a couple of weeks before Black Friday hits, you’re giving your clients the opportunity to get excited about the idea of a vacation, whilst also granting them time to put a little cash aside or to think about their next destination.
Another way to tease Black Friday is – you guessed it – to utilize your social media channels. Take inspiration from companies inside and outside of your industry to see how they’ve advertised Black Friday ahead of time: from cryptic clues to an all-out assault on the senses, there are various ways to let your followers know that discounts are coming. You could mirror the hype by adding a countdown banner to the top of your web page, if you have one.
Finally, a solid email marketing strategy will make sure that your customers are primed and ready for the big occasion. Craft subject lines to pique their curiosity and remind them to mark their calendars for the big day.
Top tip: why not offer some early Black Friday deals? By browsing the Promos section in our Booking Engine, you can cherry-pick hotels on discount in a particular destination – or, by using The Compass, you can identify which destinations are trending and the hotels on offer right now. Make the most of these deals and start driving your Black Friday sales early!
Step four: push those offers! (suggested timeframe: Black Friday-Cyber Monday)
You’ve already put in the work to market your Black Friday offers ahead of the occasion, but now is not the time to take your foot off the gas – you still need to secure those sales!
Chances are, many of your enquiries over Black Friday will be from travelers looking for the best offers. Whether they’ve found you through your awesome social media efforts, clicked through to your website from Google or are already acquainted with you (and your offers) thanks to earlier outreach, the key is to make sure that those bookings are locked down. Make sure that you know your offers inside out – an easy way to do this at a glance is to consult the Promos section on our Booking Engine.
If a client finds somehow finds their way to you without prior knowledge of Black Friday (honestly, who could be unaware!), be prepared to let them know about your offers at the earliest possible opportunity. This means filling your website (if you have one) with noticeable banners highlighting your limited-time offers, or asking in-person/phone clients if they’re hoping to book their trip today. A sense of urgency tied to Black Friday offerings can cause an uptick in sales, so be sure to enforce the same rules for your agency.
Referring once again to online bookings, it is possible that ‘cart abandonment’ will apply to some bookings: this is where a client will browse offers and get as far as the check-out page, before deciding not to proceed with the booking and closing out of the browser. Ensure that you have an email strategy or web pop-up in place to capture this type of client, with a reminder that prices can and do rise quickly – especially over Black Friday – and that the best time to secure a deal is now.
Did you know?: According to some statistics, cart abandonment email reminders have an open rate of 45% - a huge percentage of potential travelers you could be tempting back in!
Step five: don’t tap out – Travel Tuesday is your time to shine (suggested timeframe: Monday 28th/Tuesday 29th November)
We get it: what’s the point in calling it ‘Black Friday’ if offers are pushed both before and after the event? Fortunately for the travel industry, the fatigue of over-commercialism hasn’t hit too hard: in fact, statistics showed that the Tuesday after Black Friday 2021 was a huge success for those companies still selling accommodation and flights at discounted rates. Known as ‘Travel Tuesday’ (or ‘Travel Deal Tuesday to some), this event has become a prime time for would-be travelers to secure their dream escape: past Travel Tuesdays have offered twice the number of deals advertised over Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, and according to Hopper, this year’s Travel Tuesday is set to see 34 deals made per second…30% more than in previous years.
Even if you’re not offering extra or heavier discounts over Travel Tuesday, the number of travelers looking for a deal is likely to increase – so be sure to capture their imagination by sharing the hotels we have on offer between November 22nd-29th!