Investing in Customer Knowledge Leads to Revenue Gains
Expedition Trips a online travel agency specializing in expedition cruising and travel to some of the most remote locations on earth. For years Expedition Trips had relied on pay per click search engine marketing to drive leads. An existing agency relationship had turned stale and both lead volume and quality had dropped off substantially. Furthermore, a slew of new entrants into the market had made the competitive landscape much more fierce. Expedition Trips needed a way to stand out from competitors and communicate the benefits of their service to both markets served: cruise operators and travelers.
We proposed a unique approach. First, we suggested we not rip apart the existing program. Instead we brought the inherited program under control which immediately reduced cost per leads generated by over 50%. Next we executed a qualitative consumer study to understand why travelers sought out the services of Expedition Trips. This exercise unveiled many findings about the motivations and interest of Expedition Trips' audience which were incorporated into marketing tactics, messaging and even sales and service processes.
Under our management, the digital marketing program’s poor performance was reversed fairly quickly and sustained for over 4 years until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the travel industry very hard. Prior to the impact of the pandemic, the program realized improvements in lead quantities, reduced lead-to-booking conversion time as well as increased average trip value. By digging into historic data about the attributes of those not just curious about travel, but actually booking trips, we were able to re-allocate media and targeting to focus on customer segments most likely to invest in a once-in-a-lifetime trip. By doing the research and better understanding the market, we were able to deploy tactics that maintained improvements in program performance that were sustained throughout our engagement.
Impact for Client
In support of Expedition Trips, we executed our Brand Activism™ program to align internal and external views of the brand with travelers, cruise operators and the client team. A cross-section of customers and partners were surveyed to uncover what they valued most in the experience and how ExpeditionTrips delivered to meet those expectations. With a deeper understanding of the traveler's desires, the Expedition Trips staff were able to more efficiently qualify and guide individuals to trips that best met their needs. Additionally all creative assets were evaluated and new concepts were tested that addressed the needs and interest of high-value customers and micro-target them across geographies. The cruise operators benefited by having travelers whose expectations were met and/or exceeded by the experience which endeared them to the cruise line brand. During our time the cost per lead dropped nearly 80%, lead volume rose nearly 50%, lead-to-booking time dropped 20% and the average revenue per passenger increased almost 12%. In fact prior to the pandemic the client shared with us that 2018-2019 were two of their best years ever.