Cyber Monday saw more offers from travel players and more revenue

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onlinetravel.jpgAmid the deluge of Cyber Monday deals last week, a number of travel companies were among the retailers and suppliers angling to leverage the post-Thanksgiving promotional period to boost sales, predominantly for the holiday and spring travel season.


And despite the barrage of inbox-cluttering offers from every nook and cranny of the retail world, several travel sellers reported that their messages did make their way through the noise, resulting in a healthy bump in revenue.

Traditionally a time for consumers to get a jump-start on their holiday shopping, the day-after-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales events and the online deals on Cyber Monday — which have quickly expanded into Cyber Week — have become a time to shop for deals on anything and everything.

And despite the level of promotional frenzy and competition from other retail sectors, the travel industry this year was committed to capturing a slice of the consumer holiday-spending pie.

“Apple Vacations actually doubled its Black Friday sales this year,” the vacation packager said. Apple’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday special included $100 savings per couple for vacations of six nights or more in the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii for bookings made between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1, for travel between Dec. 1 and April 30.

Indeed, many of the travel deals in the marketplace were focused on stoking travel during the months of December through April.

Royal Caribbean International, for example, offered a one-day deal on Cyber Monday for select Caribbean and Bahamas sailings between January and April. The company, which did not have a Cyber Monday sale last year (though it did offer one of its Wow promotions around the same time), said that it used email, social media and travel partners to promote the offer. Royal reported last week that its Cyber Monday sale had been a “huge success.”

Princess Cruises’ Cyber Week sale focused on shorter, three-, four- and five-day cruises, and it, too, was offering the deals primarily for sailings January through April.

Hotels were more focused on closer-in bookings. Gaylord Hotels, for example, had a Cyber Monday sale of up to 30% off at its properties for stays during December.

The company said that it has rolled out Cyber Monday deals now for the past few years because holiday travelers respond well to them. And this year, Gaylord reported, its hotels experienced somewhat stronger results than they had the previous two years.

Perhaps not surprisingly, online travel retailers were especially aggressive with their Cyber Monday and Cyber Week promos, with sites like Travelocity and Sam’s Club amalgamating the barrage of deals in the market.

Agencies were in on it, too. Avoya Travel, for example, dedicated its home page to showcasing Cyber Week specials.

Liberty Travel assembled 70 deals for Black Friday shoppers that it made available to travelers for bookings made between Nov. 23 and 30. The Liberty sale featured Caribbean and Mexico resorts, cruises and escorted tours.

Several World Travel Holdings brands, including CruisesOnly and VacationOutlet, issued statements last week announcing that they had extended their Cyber Monday deals an extra day after high call volumes left some calls unanswered on Dec. 1. The company said the flood of calls was due in part to the popularity of its “Book Now, Pay Later: No Deposit Required” Cyber Monday promotion — which consequently became a Cyber Monday and Cyber Tuesday promo.

While the flash sales clearly resonated with a certain percentage of travelers who were simply looking for a good deal on a hotel or a quick getaway cruise, for the bigger-ticket, more complicated vacations, Black Friday and Cyber Week deals proved to be a harder sell. A 10-day trip to Europe is less of an impulse buy than a well-priced hotel stay.

“No one is going to decide on the spur of the moment to book a two-week trip to Africa just because we have a great deal going for Cyber Monday,” said Emily Harley, media relations director for International Expeditions, which had four offers during Cyber Week for trips in South America, Asia and Africa. “What we’ve experienced is that these Cyber Monday promotions really help nudge those who have already been kicking the [International Expeditions] tires for a while.”

Harley noted that Cyber Week gave tour operators like International Expeditions the opportunity to jump-start 2015 bookings for itineraries in the first half of the year.

And while she said the deals did bring in a handful of fresh bookings as well as additional calls expressing interest, she added that the constantly growing clutter and clamor marking the Black Friday/Cyber Week shopping period means that travel companies are going to have to get more creative going forward.

“Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Cyber Week promotions were intended to grab attention,” Harley said. “But our inboxes are cluttered with messages, and gaining traction during heavy retail seasons is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Instead of simply joining the cacophony, she said, travel brands “will need to craft inventive promotional strategies to keep pace with increasingly savvy shoppers.”

Online travel graphic courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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