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Marketing For Jewish Travel

Businesses that understand how to properly market relevant travel and hospitality offerings to the Jewish audience have the potential to see strong returns from their efforts. With the Jewish calendar year filled with holidays, religious celebrations, and general seasonal vacations, these events translate into many opportunities for the marketing of travel and hospitality (T&H) and related offerings. Moreover, with numerous segments of the broader American Jewish community having higher than average disposable incomes, these opportunities are further expounded.

A Tangible Enthusiasm

The many Jewish holidays and higher-than-average discretionary income among the broader Jewish audience translates into a tangible enthusiasm for discovering novel travel experiences. This unique enthusiasm becomes another driver for the marketing potential of the T&H categories.

In our experience, this heightened interest goes beyond the excitement that the average general market consumer may find in their next vacation’s planning and discovery phases. Rather, in the Jewish audience, we see a near constant eye out for the latest T&H offering and whether the offering fits within their expectations from both a luxury standard as well as from a religious requirements perspective.

Beyond Simply Travel

While the traditional travel and hospitality sectors are the most apparent contenders to market to this tangible demand, it is important to remember that offerings on the periphery of these categories can also capitalize on many of the same opportunities for growth.

Some of these offerings, for example, can relate to food and recreational experiences that are located in Jewish vacation hot spots. Marketing these related offerings both traditionally as well as through strategic partnerships allows for potentially outsized campaign performance.

Beyond offerings on the periphery such as food and attractions, there is an opportunity for those offerings that are ancillary. These offerings are wide-ranging but they generally relate to some aspect that makes the travel experience less cumbersome and more enjoyable. For example, the mass exodus that takes place during Passover, where significant portions of the Jewish population in the Northeast go to Florida present an opening for luggage logistics companies. The demand is met in this instance relates to the large number of housewares and luggage that need to journey down south.

Such an offering is especially relevant to those who are not staying at a full-service hotel program but are utilizing a rental property. WIth the hefty fees that airlines charge for excess baggage, there was a glaring gap in the market. Folks were making painful journeys by car down to Florida to contend with this cost concern. The entrance of these “Florida for Passover” specific shipping solutions vendors is an example of understanding a pain point specific to characteristics of the Jewish T&H category and capitalizing on it.  

Strong Potential Present, Proper Execution Vital

Now that we have covered the potential linked with the marketing of Jewish travel offerings, it is important to discuss some of the strategies for a profitable campaign.

The framework that we employ when deciding on the right strategy for a specific T&H offering begins with the questions of “What, Who, & Where?.”

What – This is the most important question to ask for determining the right strategy. This is because everything depends on what you are bringing to market. The nature of the offering truly sets the tone and direction.

Who  – Once a good understanding of the nuance relating to what will be marketed has been attained, it is prudent to formulate which Jewish audiences will be most optimal for the product or service. To properly formulate profiles for the best Jewish segment(s) that should be targeted, a precursory understanding of the varying Jewish audience(s) is necessary. The difference between choosing the right Jewish market segments or the wrong ones defines whether a campaign will be successful.

Where – Once the target markets have been identified, formulation of the various marketing mixes can take place. Great marketing mixes are the result of an in-depth understanding of the audience combined with intimate knowledge of platform capabilities. Haphazard advertising platform choice without strategy and nuance is where we see most lost in terms of spend potential.

It is true that platform choice can be like shooting in the dark when it comes to Jewish centric marketing. In large part, this is due to the plethora of advertising options available. So many options  can be overwhelming to those unfamiliar and without experience. This is another key reason why a measured and tactical approach based on knowledge of what works for a specific offering is so vital.

When it comes to offering in the T&H category, one of the strongest platforms in terms of return on spend is influencer marketing done primarily through Instagram Stories. In addition, targeted PR in relevant publications, both online and in print have seen an outsized positive performance when placement was curated in a nuanced fashion. Unsurprisingly, hyper-targeted digital ads in conjunction with retargeting is a strategy that has the potential to bring strong performance at scale.

We discuss the choice of platform in more detail below under the header labeled “Choosing The Right Platforms.”

Know The Purchasing Journey

Successfully marketing for travel requires an understanding of the dynamics relating to both how consumers find relevant offerings as well as how they subsequently navigate through the purchasing journey. For example, when it comes to travel packages with substantial price tags, such as a Passover hotel program, the buying process takes place over a more extended period. In contrast, booking of airfare, car rentals, or experiences generally has a much shorter purchasing timeline.

A proper understanding of the subtleties involved in purchasing behavior is necessary for proper structuring of both marketing and overall website architecture. Formation of a campaign that is in sync with the purchase journey lifecycle will translate into performance that is significantly better than one that is not in line with how customers navigate purchase of your offering. This is especially true when it comes to travel and hospitality offerings as the purchasing process are quite unique depending on what is being offered.

A Robust Online Presence With Optimized Search Visibility

One of the most critical areas of marketing a Jewish travel or hospitality offering is an understanding of the mode and manner that the relevant Jewish audience will most likely become aware of the offering at hand.

While the discovery of new offerings is happening on various different platforms, search still plays a significant role. Search is especially important for those offerings that are “lower ticket” in terms of price. We see that for the broader Jewish audience, increasingly, for offerings such as attractions and local hotels, finding options is often taking place “on demand and the fly.”

What that means is, that frequently, customers are performing searches and seeking out what they need as they need it. Such “in the moment” buying practices hold for the general market as well, as is evidenced by the fact that 58% of travel spend takes place during the trip.

Furthermore, over 74% of travel-related planning takes place on the internet as per a study conducted by Ipsos. Therefore a robust presence online with optimized search visibility is of critical importance for offerings that are experiencing such search demand. The challenge of executing in this area is knowing what potential customers are searching for and how to properly structure a website and associated content to ensure that potential customers see your offering at the top of the search results.

The solution to meeting this challenge is two-fold. First, an understanding of customer search terms through both tools and business intelligence will set the direction for efforts. Once the terms of the most significant potential have been identified, the creation of relevant, high-quality content in various forms should be created. Over time, Google and other search engines will progressively improve your website in search results on the condition that it deems your content to relevant and useful to those performing searches for the keyword in question.

The obvious challenge with improving search ranking in the form of content creation and other SEO efforts is that depending on the competitive landscape for the search term, efforts can take months or even years to show substantial returns. For this reason, we suggest that paid search campaigns should be undertaken in tandem with SEO efforts. This will, in turn, ensure that in the short term, potential customers are seeing your offering at the top of search results and further increasing the likelihood of purchase.

What should be apparent, is the importance of being present in these “I Want” or “I Need” moments that take place before and during travel. It is during these periods, when a potential customer needs a certain product or service “on the fly,” that the most significant opportunities present themselves.

While there are numerous factors that make these opportunities important, their draw in large part is because these “in the moment” potential customers are looking to make a purchase immediately. Those performing these searches will generally not be making decisions backed by research taking place over weeks or even months as they may do for the booking of a travel package that has a larger price tag. For these lower priced offerings, when a customer visits your website in “on demand moments,” then there is a much greater chance that they will follow through with a purchase. Therefore, once you capture these “on demand” customers, conversion rates dramatically increase.

A Device Agnostic Website

With the surge in “on demand” searches, mobile-centered campaigns have been playing a more significant role. While purchases that require research and lengthy decision making are more likely to take place on a desktop, travel search that happens during the trip is much more likely to take place on mobile.

With a mobile device in practically every person’s hand, it is of little surprise that mobile search has now outpaced search on desktops. This explosion of mobile should stress the importance of having a proven strategy that caters to the mobile experience. This importance is even more pronounced when it comes to those that are in the travel and hospitality baskets. That is the case because, as was stated previously, these categories are at the top of the list when it comes to the prevalence of “on the fly” search from a mobile device.

Another important aspect of a travel-centric marketing campaign, or for that matter any campaign, is landing page experience. That is, even after the most challenging task of gaining proper visibility has been achieved, converting a potential customer who visits your website depends in large part on the experience they have on said site. Therefore, ensuring that landing and associated pages are fast, secure and visually appealing should be a top priority. In addition, relevant information, and social proof in the form of customer testimonials and user-generated content from social media should be incorporated as well. We see marked improvements in the performance of campaigns across the board but in specific to the travel and hospitality sector when best practices of website functionality and content are incorporated.  

With such a heavy concentration of on the go search stemming from mobile devices, ensuring that your website works seamlessly across all devices should be a priority. A common issue we come across when working with clients is that their websites in original form look great on desktop but on mobile the user experience is dismal. The reason for this is often because the design of the site was done on a desktop without proper testing for the look, feel, and functionality on mobile devices. As mobile search increases, this oversight is causing more and more opportunity loss and immediate efforts should be made to improve in this regard if necessary.

The importance of a great user experience is magnified when it comes to travel specific marketing campaigns. This is because customers who are searching from their mobile device in a car, airplane, or some other mode of travel need a fast and easy to use interface. With 77% of search during “spare moments” (such as waiting in line or commuting) taking place on mobile, it is no wonder that mobile is becoming the king of the field. Being cognizant that potential customers performing searches while actively traveling will be more prone to abandon a website or other platform that is not functioning in a seamless manner is important. Therefore, in specific to T&H offerings, where on the go searches are more common, it is of unique importance to make sure of optimal performance of your website and associated digital assets. This importance is further illustrated by the fact that 83% of leisure travelers who encountered a sub-par mobile website experience, only 23% followed through with the site.

Branded Sites vs. Search

One of the biggest concerns of businesses in the travel industry remains the popularity of big brand sites and apps such as Priceline, Kayak, and the like. This stems from the habit of travelers going directly to these brands without providing an opportunity for others to have a chance to market to them.

This trend is a direct credit to the convenience and marketing efforts that these large travel sites have cultivated over time. With that said, an encouraging sign to smaller players within the travel sector is the fact that there has been a move towards an increase in travelers initiating the search for accommodation and other travel-related offerings via search engines over going directly to brand sites. This change in habit gives businesses offering travel and hospitality offerings an opportunity to catch potential customers attention without having to deal with the saturation of branded travel search platforms. With that said, the experience and offerings provided need to be stellar in order to compete with the familiarity and brand recognition that the brand sites bring with them.

Choosing The Right Platforms

When discussing advertising platforms that hold the most potential for success in the context of marketing T&H offerings to the Jewish community, we run the risk of getting carried away. This is in part because there is so much to discuss but also because much of the strategy depends on  the specifics of the offering at hand.

As with marketing for almost anything in a Jewish context, advertising needs to be as targeted as possible. The general platforms such as Google & Facebook through their in-depth targeting capabilities offer a wealth of opportunity. The challenge with so many possibilities though is that it can become quite confusing and overwhelming.  

With that being said, through experience and a proper understanding of your optimal customer, complex yet highly effective targeting mixes can be employed with unparalleled results. These targeting mixes bring advertising closer to a scientific practice and are the core reason why we are continuously shifting more spend away from legacy advertising such as print.

Beyond targeted advertising, there are a wealth of other platforms but it is important to mention an emerging yet core area that can be transformational in terms of a marketing campaign.

This area is that of Jewish influencer marketing which we find works exceptionally well when dealing with highly visual offerings such as is so often the case in the T&H sector. Influencers combined with retargeting via Facebook and Google makes for a strong combination that can be utilized to great effect.

The primary challenge when it comes to influencer marketing is two-fold. First, relevant influencers need to be strategically sourced. Irrelevant influencers render a campaign that is highly handicapped at best and at worst can be completely ineffective. Second, influencers pose significant challenges in terms of negotiation of fees and promotion terms. On both of these fronts, we find that because of our ability to shift spend, these challenges are significantly mitigated if not totally eliminated, with the general result being lower fees and more substantial promotion.

Jewish Holidays, Celebrations, & Vacation Seasons

When it comes to the various events that make up the Jewish calendar, it is important to differentiate between the three core types.

  1. Jewish Holidays: Jewish holidays come in all shapes and sizes. There are the holidays that have broad-based appeal such as the High Holidays and (C)Hannukah as well as holidays that are mostly celebrated by more religious sects such as perhaps Purim. In addition, some holidays offer more commercial opportunity than others. For example, Passover and (C)Hannnukah offer significantly more potential than Shavuot. With that said, for a specific offering, Shavuot may indeed hold more potential than Passover. It is for this reason, as is the case with so much of Jewish marketing, that an analysis on an offering specific level must be undertaken.
  2. Religious Celebrations: Throughout the year, especially for the more religious Jewish segments such as those of Modern and Ultra-orthodox affiliations, celebrations that are religious in nature occur. These range across a broad spectrum that includes Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, among many others. Often times the commercial potential in relation to these events are for destination celebration offerings such as hotels.
  3. Vacation Seasons: While vacation seasons among the broader Jewish segment are often times in tune with Jewish holidays, there are also vacation seasons that are also common among the general market segment. The obvious ones are during the summertime and midwinter. Identifying the trends fro what the Jewish market is currently interested in terms of vacations spots is important for catering to this seasonal vacation demand.
Marketing Jewish Travel & Hospitality (T&H) Offerings

Understand & Foster Your USP

When it comes to marketing travel to the Jewish community, there are a whole host of effective and efficient strategies that can be implemented to attract this high-potential population segment.

One of the easiest strategies that those in the T&H sector can undertake is looking at how they can distinguish their offering in a unique and attractive manner. The core prerequisite for effectively utilizing this strategy is having a very good understanding of the different Jewish audiences and how they relate to both what you currently have on offer as well as what can be added for value.  

To illustrate, one of the most common ways this strategy is implemented comes in the form of a hotel in an exotic or otherwise attractive destination. The hotel sees an opening in the market based on Jews traveling to said destination but not having an attractive or suitable kosher food option. This lack can either be in the form of the non-existence of kosher certified food or perhaps just not certified to the level that broad-based appeal becomes possible. The hotel then undertakes kosher certification, often times only on a seasonal basis and then actively markets this unique offering to contrast their offering with the other hotels in the area. When executed correctly, we have seen this kind of undertaking pay dividends many times over.

While kosher certification of a hotel is the most obvious and common example of this idea, the applications, in fact, are pretty wide-ranging. The key as stated previously, is in understanding the relevant Jewish audiences and employing creativity.

Another common way T&H’s employ the strategy of touting their unique selling points revolves around characteristics of the average Jewish family. Due in part to the Jewish holidays which allow for family vacations but also because many segments of the broader Jewish audience have larger than average families. With up to 87% of decisions regarding travel taking into account the needs and preferences of children, campaigns should factor the familial aspect and the role children play int he decision making process.

In addition, marketing to the religious needs of some Jewish travelers is also an effective tool in getting their attention.

We have seen cruise lines offer both the kosher accommodation angle as well as child-friendly offerings with the result being a true differentiator that was met with great enthusiasm. For this specific offering, they were able to demand a premium that commanded the attention and associated enthusiasm of a lucrative Jewish segment. We have seen a significant portion of these customers form a loyal base with considerable lifetime value.  

A Summary & Tips For Success

While we have covered some broad strategies to use for successful marketing of a T&H offering to the Jewish audience, there are key takeaways that can be used to guide your efforts.

The goal should be to understand the optimal Jewish audience for what you offer as well as the platforms that will allow you to reach them in the most effective and efficient manner. Beyond this understanding, positioning your T&H in a unique and advantageous way has the potential to set your offering apart from the rest of the pack.

Looking at the nuance of how your optimal customer operates in purchasing is important as well. Mapping out the customer journey can be quite helpful in this regard. Start asking questions such as: “How are our customers searching for offering such as ours?”

With such a large portion of travel planning and booking done online, the starting point should be ensuring that you have a strong strategy that provides for robust visibility. A seamless and easy to use website that takes into account the increasing role of mobile search is of great importance. Remembering that only 23% of visitors who encounter a non-optimized site will follow through is a sign of how vital a great mobile experience truly is. As more people use search engines to find travel services versus going directly to branded sites and apps, there is more opportunity for you to catch their attention.

When it comes to the Jewish community, looking at the big picture and what the community desires for their travel are the key to capturing their attention. Understanding the role children and religious consideration play can help set you apart from the competition who may not be taking these segments into account.

It is through a wholesome approach and an understanding of the Jewish consumer’s needs and wants that you can formulate a winning strategy that is geared towards capturing growth in this high-potential demographic.

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