Out of Touch?

Could future vacation advertisements one day read: “Plan your next family vacation for the dark side of the moon!” or maybe, “Now offering an intergalactic tour featuring Mars, Neptune, Jupiter and the Estranged Pluto! Book today and save 20%.”

No, way. Right?

Maybe not. According to recent information the first ever commercial space port in New Mexico is nearing completion. Yes, commercial. As in, commercial airlines. That means it will transport Average Joes like you to the moon and back.

But, for most, space is still a big giant unknown. We’ve all seen the Alien movies and obscure episodes of Star Trek. Few people are willingly trying to butt heads with Klingons. Will travel marketing ever be able to convince earthlings to book a flight to a beautiful Venusian resort over the more traditional route of moving into new Panama City Beach condos? Maybe. But, if they could, how would they do it?

Tactic #1: All Your Friends Are Doing It!

If marketers are going to be able to convince you to take your family to the moon, the Internet (social media, to be precise) will most likely be their vehicle.

Social Media has a way of convincing its users to do whatever their friends are doing, or vice versa. If your friends are wining and dining at The Corner Restaurant after work, you’ll probably be there, too. Likewise, if you’re headed out to The Neighborhood Bar for a drink, posting it on Facebook will entice friends to do the same.

Sites like Facebook are becoming nearly overrun with advertisements. Companies and businesses can take to social media to promote themselves for free or with paid ads. Search re-targeting also lets Google know that you’ve been curious about Venus vacation packages, have given it a quick Google and will likely bombard you with pay-per-click ads, even if you change your mind and decide to search for Panama City Beach condos instead.

In a similar fashion, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) continues to evolve daily, meaning that by the time space travel is a legitimate option in 2013 and after, SEO will know exactly how to give you the results you want with little to no hassle.

Social media is an excellent form of advertisement and could be used to ease the fears and uncertainties associated with space travel. If the Wilson family is posting pictures to Facebook and tweeting about their Venusian vacation, you may soon feel the need to book one of your own.

Tactic #2: It’s Easy and Affordable!

The Internet also has a way of making things, especially travel, affordable for just about anyone. We’ve all heard about the amazing flight and hotel combo packages through sites like Orbitz, Kayak and Priceline and about the amazing coupons offered through sites like Groupon. With this type of money-saving technology expanding as the future unfolds, you could reasonably expect to see flight deals if New Mexico’s space port really takes off. No pun intended.

And, with mobile apps like Foursquare, you can earn points for checking into different locations and occasionally coupons and discounts depending on the business. With enough check-ins, you could be mayor of the moon or earn a free ice cream cone at the Uranus Creamery. Foursquare is basically all about free advertisement for businesses–a clever way for travel marketers to get the word out there about space vacations.

Tactic #3: It’s Safe, see for yourself!

 Viral videos never get old. From the first moon landing to Charlie the Unicorn, we always love a good video and the second we see it, we’re going to share it. Much of the unease surrounding space travel is the simple fact that we’re always seeing videos of space adventures gone wrong. Apollo 13? Exactly.

But, what if marketers began using videos of successful space travel? The video of a group of Spring Breakers landing safely on Mars or taking a spin around the rings of Saturn could go viral in an instant. Or, it could be used as clever marketing to get travelers to step a bit out of their comfort zones and shell out the bucks for a ticket to Jupiter.

The Future of Travel Marketing

 Clever marketing can get consumers to try just about anything—even space travel. And, while it’s still a long way off, when done correctly, we could soon wish to forego visiting Panama City Beach, London or Cabo San Lucas in lieu of Mars. It’s a long way off, but who knows? Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

This guest post was contributed by Joseph Baker.

Joseph Baker’s business experience in management spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

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