WTM Seminar Report

How do prospects choose?

  • Research –Select – Location
  • Compile a Shortlist (say, 10)
  • Compare Options and Offers – ‘Best’ vs ‘Cheapest’
  • 57% visit hotel website

Marketing Strategy

1. Popularise/Promote amongst potential guests (i.e not everyone)

  • 21% of bookings come through word-of-mouth
  • 17% of bookings come through an OTA (Online Travel Agent)
  • 13% repeat bookings
  • Prospects like trustworthy selections (eg ‘Best five’ or ‘Top ten’)

2. Capture the Prospect Traffic

  • Social media may produce 9% of website traffic, but only 1% of actual bookings
  • The bigger the (link) target, the easier to hit (click) [Fitts’ Law]
  • Prospect research cycle
    OTA > Reviews (Trip Advisor, etc) > Hotel website > OTA > Reviews . . . etc.

3. Convert the Prospect to a Buyer

  • Only 3 seconds to sell a hotel’s USP
  • USP = Location – Comfort Level – Value
  • USP = what guests think it is
  • Emotion sells – powerful photos, guest memories/stories – “Moments

Key Website Factors

  1. About the Rooms
  2. About the Location
  3. About Pricing


  • Offers / Features / Gallery / etc.
  • The booking process often takes the vast majority of time on a website – 11 minutes compared with 14 minutes overall. Must be carefully planned/executed so prospects don’t give up.

Get people to Recommend / Share

  • Over-deliver the experience, better than they expected
  • Make sure they realise / recognise that – remind them
  • Ask them to spread the word

WTM Seminar Report

Trip Advisor is the top source for direct bookings.

  • 260 million visitors per month
  • 125 million reviews from 57 million members / reviewers
  • 3.1 million businesses (hotels etc.)


User Reviews

  • 93% say that booking decisions are affected by reviews. Over 50% will not book without a review being available.
  • The majority of Trip Advisor reviews are positive (average score is 4.8)
  • Hotels get an average 11% increase in booking price for each step in T.A rating
  • Influence of reviews for a location / hotel comes from
    – Quality of reviews
    – Quantity of reviews
    – How recent the reviews
  • Basic (free) listing – http://www.tripadvisor.com/GetListedNew
  • Paid listing on Trip Advisor means being able to publish direct contact details, able to publish special offers/deals, etc.

WTM Seminar Report

Content Marketing is about branding, consumer engagement, social media and of course search engine optimisation. If you can get your content marketing right, you will be forging ahead of the competition.

Whether on PC, mobile or tablet, you need to be presenting the right content to consumers to persuade them to become customers. It needs to be engaging and sufficiently compelling to persuade travellers that they should be booking with your company.

  • “Great content marketing is about great storytelling” – like a story, the content must lead towards an end point (like the joke’s punchline) – the objective for telling the story, creating the content.
  • People look for destination information. They research online and seek recommendations.
  • People aggregate information for themselves, making a ‘self-build’ guidebook. There is a sales/marketing opportunity there.

Creating Compelling Content

  • 80:20 Rule
    – 80% Interesting, Entertaining, Educative, Informative
    – 20% ‘Selling’
  • Get content from customers/clients
  • ‘Travel’ has inherent potential to produce compelling content –
    – culture / events / experiences / nature / landscape / architecture
  • Images produce the highest interaction
  • Image plus short text link = highest click-through rate
  • Video = increased page stay / browsing time
  • Produce a content plan / strategy. Month by month by channel. Align with other efforts, promotions

What readers want –

  • Real life – First hand – tips and advice
  • 54% – value for money advice
  • 52% – reviews and recommendations about products, services and accommodation
  • 48% – helpful tips
  • Write through the eyes of the traveller
  • Create content that the traveller wants
  • Be like a ‘trusted friend’ – honest and unbiased


  1. Define what you are – what are you writing about?
    What is the vision? – Content and Context is king.
  2. Stories – language – legacy? – desired action?
  3. Manage the Content
    – plan / research / update
    – produce / write / optimise
    – publish / edit / release
  4. Who – When – Where?
  5. Alignment with Travel Stages

WTM Seminar Report

Social media is an area of marketing and communication that is being used by a large number of travel companies as part of their strategy to engage new customers. Indeed recent research suggests that social media provides a 3:1 return on investment.

One sector of the travel industry that has seen tremendous success and that greatly relies upon engaging new customers for continued growth is cruising.

  • Decline in email use?
  • Social media posts equate to Word of Mouth relay of information/judgements. Travel is inherently a ‘social’ activity and before/during/after people talk to their friends about what is happening. People tend to trust these comments, whether face-to-face or via social media.
  • There are 30 million UK Facebook users, 25% of whom (7.5 million) are over 25 yrs old
  • Fanalyzer measures and ranks UK fan pages – here, travel related http://www.fanalyzer.co.uk/category/65/Tourism-Travel.html
    (KLM has over 4m fans)

The process (very interesting analysis, relevant to any travel related marketing activities) –

  • Dreaming > Planning > Booking > Anticipating > Travelling > Destination > Memories
  • Brands need to behave like publishers, providing relevant, quality, content

Content must

  • Be Useful
  • Be Authentic (on topic, relevant)
  • Be Engaging (interesting, exciting, events)
Hotel Barge Luciole

Recently added to the french-waterways.com ‘portfolio’ of hotel barges and information about them –

  • Alegria – cruising the historic Canal du Midi
  • Bonheur – two cabins cruising the Canal de Bourgogne
  • Durandal – static Peniche d’Hote near Beziers, on the Midi
  • Luciole – seven cabins on the pretty Canal de Nivernais
  • Nilaya – economy and hospitality on various canal routes
  • Randle – two cabins and traditional style on the Canal de Nivernais
  • Who Knows – deservedly popular style in Burgundy and Champagne

We are pleased to feature a great range of boats and the holidays and vacations that they provide – luxury barges and straightforward barges; larger barges bookable cabin-by-cabin and smaller barges for whole-boat charters; cruising barges and static (moored) ‘peniches d’hote’; and barges spread throughout the rivers and canals of France, north to south, east to west. More in the pipeline!

> All About Hotel Barge Charters <

(Opinions from a research population of 1,277 travel industry stakeholders participating at WTM 2013, London and of 1,001 UK holidaymakers who took an at least seven-day break in 2013)

What the Travel Trade thinks

  • 89% of tourist sector professionals are Fairly or Very optimistic about the prospects for 2014.
  • Incoming tourist receipts for Europe are forecast to double, 2014 performance indicators compared with 2012.
  • ‘Superior Authenticity’ is an important criteria in the decision to select a European holiday.
  • Countries with a growing tourist sector significance
    21% China
    16% Russia
    13% India and Brazil

Customer Opinion

  • 39% of UK holidaymakers would only consider ‘short haul’ (closer to home) travel following the April 2014 increase in A.P.D (Air Passenger Duty – tax)
  • The key resources that UK holidaymakers use, in planning and choosing a holiday are:
    – Peer Review (eg Trip Advisor) – 27%
    – Personal Recommendation – 18%
    – Tourist Board Websites – 14%
    – Guide Books** – 14%
    – Travel Magazines – 5%
    **59% of UK holidaymakers purchase and use traditional printed guide books. DK (Dorling Kindersley) are re-launching their travel guides series.
  • Cruise holidays are the fastest growing element in the global tourism sector.
  • 62% of UK holidaymakers view the cruise concept favourably – 23% have been on a cruise and liked it and
    39%** haven’t been but would like to. ** Compared with 32% who do not like the idea.
    Quite apart from the encouraging and positive attitude towards cruising as such, we also surmise that negative feelings may be more related to ‘big ship’ marine cruising than the smaller-scale, more intimate, reality of a ‘small ship’ river cruise or (even more so) a hotel barge charter.

> Inland Waterway Tourism and the French Economy <

The 14,000 sq.m 17,000 visitor France Show is the UK’s largest event dedicated to France –
” . . . providing a unique opportunity to meet an audience who love France . . “

Staged over three days (17th-19th January) at Earls Court, London, the France Show is said to be the “must attend” event for all those wanting to reach an affluent and committed audience who travel to France regularly, enjoy French food and wine, and love the French way of life.

We’ll be visiting to assess the potential for promoting French waterway tourism. Watch this space!

Considerably smaller than WTM, the annual Luxury Travel Fair is organised by Condé Nast (publishers of Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker, etc. – and Condé Nast Traveller).

With a high ticket price, its central Louis Roederer champagne bar and an Anton Mosimann restaurant area, it is aimed at high net worth travel customers. Some 90 or so luxury travel products and services exhibitors take space at the show.

An interesting feature is the series of ‘Meet the Experts’ talks by authors and travellers – there is scope here for a presentation focusing on the very special delights of French waterway holidays and vacations.

Pleasingly, our cruise holiday specialist colleagues at Ponders Travel enjoyed a highly successful show – during the time that french-waterways.com visited the show (we had complimentary VIP tickets) their stand was crowded with past and potential clients.

We would be keen to co-ordinate future participation from our partner companies, fleets, agencies
and individual hotel barges
> Contact us to discuss how this might work. <

WTM (World Travel Market) is the UK’s biggest trade-only travel event. From beginnings in 1980 at Olympia it moved to the giant ExCel exhibition centre (which it fills) in 2002.

Attendance figures are seriously impressive and 2013 was a record year, with over 50,000 invitation-only tourist industry professionals attending the show over its four days (Tuesday 5th was the busiest, with 18,292 people making the journey to London’s dockland venue). Naturally, many visitors came from the UK, but this is a truly international event and 50% of attendees (25,000+) came from overseas. Nearly 3,000 accredited press people came.

The 2013 event covered 42,000 square metres, encompassing 900 exhibitors on stands from all corners of the globe, some stands fairly modest, some gigantic (on two storeys).

At 705 sq.m, France’s ‘rendez-vous en France‘ stand was one of the largest ten, organised by Atout France (the French tourism development agency which has 35 offices in 29 countries). The smart and stylish stand (mais naturellement!) was divided into a number of ‘desks’ with associated illuminated displays where 70 individual participants were represented – local tourist destinations such as Paris and tourist attractions such as Bateaux Mouches.

Participation (i.e a ‘desk’) costs £6,000 and could be a collaborative ‘group’ enterprise or shared between two individual enterprises.

french-waterways.com spent two days at WTM (further reports to follow). We would be keen to co-ordinate future participation from our partner companies, fleets, agencies and individual hotel barges.
> Contact us to discuss how this might work. <