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July 20, 2016 Williams Helde Staff

The Window of Opportunity

Traveling Active Explorers and your brand

shutterstock_425107057As we’ve learned from our Active Explorer User Group, opportunities for brands to communicate with travelers are plentiful, but without understanding the motivations and expectations of Active Explorers, these efforts might miss the mark.

As marketers, we’re often in pursuit of the key takeaway, the high-level message that can be the catalyst for fresh approaches to our communications. Here are our essential takeaways:

Active Explorers relax on vacation by being active.

Relaxation and active adventure are a natural combination for Active Explorers. Our user group results revealed that the top three motivations for travel were relaxing/recharging, exploring new places and experiencing different activities. Nearly a third of Active Explorers said discovering new places was their top reason for a vacation, while another third said it’s getting away from day-to-day routines.

There’s not one preferred type of vacation, just like there’s not one type of consumer. Active Explorers are defined by their appetites for adventure, their loyalty to brands that help them reach their destinations and their thirst for authentic travel experiences. But like any demographic, they’re a diverse bunch. AEs can be constant thrill-seekers, but they also love the creature comforts of a cruise or a hotel room. Over half of user group respondents said that staying in the same place for more than a week is the best way to relax, with 41% saying that 5-7 days is an ideal vacation trip length.

So meet them in the middle, tell a story about your brand that’s relatable and compelling. Marriott got it right with their Travel Brilliantly campaign, juxtaposing the ease and comfort of their hotels with the unlimited possibilities of travel they make possible. It’s a not-so-subtle nod to Active Explorers, but it also casts the net wide, inspiring a broad audience to activate not only their travel, but their adventure, through Marriott.

Timing is everything.

Make no mistake, Active Explorers have a clear picture of their ideal vacation, whatever it may be. In fact, they typically plan that ideal trip a few months in advance. And over a third plan their trip more between three and six months ahead. With booking windows this wide open, travel brands need to remain relevant throughout the consumer purchasing journey, constantly in the sights of Active Explorers in the thick of planning.

What’s more, 69% of AEs plan their next trip right after their current one. Here, the window of opportunity narrows, but it’s still important that brands reach consumers while they’re still coming off their travel high. It might be as simple as a free gift when they arrive home or an email blast with an exclusive offer and a survey.

The statistics can only get you so far.

The numbers tell us a lot about how Active Explorers interact with travel, from planning to purchase and execution. But they don’t explicitly tell brands and marketers how to leverage consumer behaviors. That’s where research, brand-building and targeted communications come in.

Data is great. Insights are better. Saying something that resonates with the Active Explorer will go miles toward inspiring them to hear more of what you have to say. Don’t over-invest in a campaign that hasn’t been tested thoroughly — try multiple approaches. Always push the envelope, don’t be afraid to say something surprising. And never miss a window of opportunity to make communications timely, nimble and impactful.

Follow those rules, and you’ll find your brand’s window of opportunity larger than ever before.