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How to tackle high cost of customer acquisition and low repeat usage challenges in travel space?

We're currently working on conversations commerce and messaging ideas in the travel/lodging space (happy to share details if allowed by FD). We're seeing strong user feedback and engagement, but face the challenge that customer acquisition costs are extremely high in travel (Expedia, Priceline, etc spend billions of dollars advertising online), usage frequency is low (the average consumer travels maybe 2-3 times a year) and there's no inherent viral loop (due to infrequent usage). We have strong evidence to believe that people want what we're building as conversion are high and customers have been very satisfied with our service, but this idea won't work if we can't acquire customers in a cost efficient manner.

Does anyone have advice on effectively acquiring customers in travel or increasing LTV? We're happy to go after business travelers if anyone has any advice on targeting corporate travelers as well?

Thanks,
Henry

2 Replies

Vikram Kulkarni
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Vikram Kulkarni Entrepreneur
DevOps Engineer Specializing in Scalability & Automation
Henry, three ways to what you are trying to accomplish:

1. Content marketing: Write detailed blog posts about your niche. Write them frequently. Buyers will read them and enter your sales funnel by their own volition.

2. Affiliate marketing: Use CPA (cost per action) model to acquire new customers. You are not paying for traffic -- only results.

3. Email marketing: Make sure people sign up to your mailing list and then send a monthly email that is choke-full of useful content. Over time, readers will associate your company with quality and will buy from you when the time comes. There is a book called DotCom Secrets which, despite its tacky name, has great content that is relevant to you.http://www.amazon.com/DotCom-Secrets-Underground-Playbook-Growing/dp/[removed to protect privacy]/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=[removed to protect privacy]&sr=8-1&keywords=dot+com+secrets
Markus Fromherz
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Markus Fromherz Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur, Innovator, Investor, Mentor
In addition to writing your own blog, you could work with travel bloggers that write about your niche. Check out the Professional Travel Bloggers Association: http://travelbloggersassociation.com/.

You could try to add a social component, where users, when they're not working on their own trip, are observing and perhaps even commenting on their friends' trips through your service. That keeps them aware of your service.

If you send out a monthly email (per Vikram's suggestion), I would try to personalize that email as much as possible, e.g., based on past trips, on trips they're current planning, or anything else you know about that's relevant for both the user and your service.

(I'd be interested to learn more about your [planned] service.)
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