Titans Of Travel Marketing Predict The Future

July 5, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More
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Conference Review
Association of Travel Marketing Executives
“The New Now & The New Next”
Boston, June 15-16, 2010

Future Trends and Predictions
Forester Research – Henry Harteveldt, Vice President

  • Very quickly China will generate the largest number of travelers across the world and they are expected to have the largest travel spend per person per day.
  • Most US residents think their personal economic condition will stay the same or worsen over the next year or two
  • Austerity is the mindset in Europe.  Profound social change is in the works for Europe including longer working hours, fewer benefits, reduced vacation time and an increased retirement age
  • We are at the beginning of a 30 year Boomer retirement cycle.  This enormous population group will have more time than money.  They will look for value, experience and reliability first when making travel purchase decisions
    • They are willing to accept some inconveniences for the sake of saving $
    • They will however spend extra for an above average product or service
  • The travel industry should expect 2 to 3 years of frugality ahead
    • Saving will be a point of pride – frugal chic
    • Travel is considered personal reward for working hard
  • In the past 2 years hours of Web use has pulled even with hours of TV watching.  It is expected that time spent on the Web will outpace time spent watching television within the next 2 years
    • TV viewing has remained stagnant while internet time is growing
    • Lunch and evening is the greatest time of use
    • Travel industry must gravitate to mobile
    • Don’t think of it as a cell phone experience, mobile is becoming a stand alone communication experience.
    • Connectivity features will become more important than the phone function
    • Instead of being just your ‘phone’, your ‘mobile device’ will be your gateway to access information, interface online and communicate.
    • Currently there are 93,000 travel Apps and growing
  • Mobile and Social are converging
    • 72% of travelers worldwide engage actively in social media
    • Facebook + YouTube = the largest share of global online usage
    • Eyes are looking for: #1 a deal, #2 product info, #3 interesting content
  • We now have a “Splinternet” – nearly every person has multiple platforms for access which they use interchangeably all day and through the night
  • Women perform social networking during the day, men in the evening
  • The decline of Brand – no more loyalty.
    • 52% of purchasers have no brand in mind when they begin a search
    • It is difficult to measure the buying response from social media
    • Travelers turn to search and meta sites first
  • AR is the next big thing  (Augmented Reality on smart devices)
    • Requires permission from device user to push content – still unclear how many will opt themselves in
    • Targeting – how to deliver the right message at the right time – when buyer is actively looking and ready to receive messaging
    • Messages are ‘pulled’ in rather than ‘pushed’ at consumer
    • Example – when users log into Foursquare near a Starbucks, they are invited in with a discount coupon.
  • Mobile is the fastest growing element of Facebook use.
    • ½ BILLION travelers have Facebook accounts
  • Affiliate Marketers are encouraging the placement of booking engines on Facebook friends pages enabling individuals to monetize their Facebook account.

Social Media – Best Practices,  Who’s Making Money?
Susan Black, Partner, The Black & Wright Group

Social Media Stats

  • Estimated 400-500 Million Facebook users (and this number may be low)
  • 384 million bloggers
  • 168 million on Twitter
  • 60 million on Linked-In
  • 50% of users access Social Media at night
  • 4 out of 10 wake up to Social Media first
  • 56% of users check their Facebook account daily

What works in Social Media?

  • It is vital to establish a two way conversation as often as possible.  Consider it like a cocktail party conversation.  If you dominate, telling all your stories and never ask for a reply or for the other person to share their experiences, no one will stay around long to continue the conversation
  • SM participants are looking for Honesty, Responsiveness, Conversation, and Transparency.  Their preference is to do business and relationships with people they know and trust
  • To build travel trust – go where your customers hang out.  Educate yourself, communicate to excite, engage and evangelize.
  • Testimonials are extremely valuable – a good example of excellent SM use is “Nuts About Southwest”.
  • Develop your social circles between Twitter and Facebook.  Offer ‘friends’ discounts.  Having a good following in both will improve your search rankings.

Who’s Doing It Right Today?

  • Travelocity is prime example of doing it right – robust following, far out distancing Expedia
  • Almost 50% of Facebook users recommend products on their pages.
  • Travel Agent, Stacy Small (EliteTravelGal on Twitter) is an example of an individual who has built a sizeable (loyal) following and has generated substantial business as a result.
  • Photos sell on social media
  • Jetsetter is another example of a site that has ramped up quickly and uses Facebook and Twitter well

What’s Next With Digital Advertising/Marketing in Travel?
Future of Marketing – Gary Leopold, CEO & President ISM

  • Fractured media with all components generating valuable, relevant content and vying for attention.
  • People view  7,000 messages (directly and indirectly) on average per day
  • Messaging is trending toward being with and for people instead of directed at people
  • Branding is more important than ever to gain audience confidence in the vast array of messaging  (Gary’s opinion of Brand standing differs from opinion expressed earlier by Forester Research who predicted Brand loyalty is on the wain)
  • Smart marketers are providing new experiences for people who cannot be there.  A prime example is the Nike promotion at Tour de France, they developed a “chalkbot” to paint messages of encouragement from cancer survivors and family members along the route.
  • New App’s are out to help people avoid where tourists are and stay off the beaten path
  • AR is where it’s going (again)
  • Playful content  works because it encourages sharing
  • Be generous with useful information, tell great stories
  • Ask yourself how you are enriching and enhancing at every touch point?  How do you engage your audience?
  • Example of a company who is leveraging positive customer satisfaction marketing through Social Media is Best Buy with their @Twelpforce agents who answer questions and troubleshoot through the Twitter account.

5 Top Things You Don’t Know About Google, Bing and TripAdvisor!
Rob Torres, Head of Travel at Google:

  • “Mobile First” is the mantra at Google and prime immediate initiative
    • Mobile, Social, Local, Personal
    • One out of six are already on social media
    • 20% of all tweets are about products
    • Relevancy is key and must be delivered by trusted advisors
    • 1 in 5 searches is about places – maps get the highest number of hits
    • 5 New Tools From Google (Active or in Beta)
      • Google Places – delivers organic real time hotel prices by neighborhood on area map.You can search by date and neighborhood receiving  real time pricing AND availability
      • Maps + Street View – Check out a hotel’s location before you decide to stay.  Are there are restaurants nearby, safe area?
      • Site Links – Provide deep links into your site in the primary site listing.
      • Search Funnels – Part of Analytics, will show full cycle of a site visit and purchase. – i.e., the 20 sites visited prior to a visitor making a travel purchase.  You may be able to discern where to best intercept potential motivated travelers and influence where they make a purchase.
      • Google Goggles –  Be brilliant!Take a picture, get information.  Order a bottle of wine at a restaurant.  When your date goes to the restroom, take a picture of the label and learn all about the wine – you’ll look like a wine connoisseur on their return.  It even automatically translates – great for menus when traveling!

Christine Petersen, CMO at TripAdvisor

  • TripAdvisor is the largest travel site in the world with an average of 21 reviews posted every minute of every day around the clock.
  • 5 New Initiatives from TripAdvisor
    • Cities I’ve Visited – Share your map on your Facebook page
    • Trip Friends – A ‘pin’ location database that can interface with Facebook friends.  See who among your friends has been to the place you plan to visit.  See who in your home town as been there.  This allows users to access the wisdom of their friends.  You can also see which of your friends is actually visiting a city at the same time you are – cocktails anyone?
    • Mobile App Just introduced and already #1 in travel apps – Access reviews and book reservations from your mobile device.  No ads appear at this point.
    • Business to Business Division – Consider it like a classified ad listing with an annual fee available for businesses to place an ad near their review with information and special offers.  New vacation rental review section is included, meaning homeowners and rental property managers can participate. They are offering free listings for oil affected properties.
    • Trip Advisor has formed a close alliance with Facebook – Facebook friends can easily “like” properties.  Trip Advisor + FB Like = marketing power

Who’s Doing Social Media Right – Panel

  • Pleasant Holidays – Successful Twitter initiative with last minute travel deals
    • Bookings are made typically within 3 days of travel
    • Primarily by males
  • CheapFlights.com – They will soon have two faces, Cheap Flights for bargain hunters, and new brand, Zugu, a next generation need driven meta engine
    • They negotiate proprietary partner deals – you won’t find their pricing duplicated on other sites
    • They use variety of newsletters to target specific audience demographics
    • Recently offered a “Travel Pursuit” game that brought in good traffic increase
  • WhereI’veBeen.com – has parlayed a $15,000 marketing spend into a 45,758 rank on Compete.com
    • Recommends starting conversations on social media – For instance a question posted to Twitter will generate a 5 minute peak in activity
    • Be open, social and relevant
    • Had good success with trivia questions posted to Twitter, t-shirt giveaways as prizes, question of the day (need a hint button) used as drivers to current initiative
    • Each message results in 150 click throughs
    • (Rumor has it,  they have just received $9 million in funding from Groupon)
  • FareCompare.com
    • Most asked question – when is the cheapest time to fly? (Wednesday morning)
    • 3pm on Tuesday is the best time to shop for flights
    • Consider themselves as the “Kelly Blue Book” of travel
    • They are able to analyze travel trends in conjunction with current events – i.e., what has been the effect of the gulf oil spill had on airfares to southern Gulf States? – average price down $20%

How many Twitter accounts does your company maintain?

  • Fare Compare – 180, many answer traveler questions, supported by extensive database of frequently asked questions
  • Where I’ve Been – 500 (!)
  • Pleasant Holidays – multiple including last minute deal site

Who else is doing it right outside of the conference attendees?

  • Southwest – has a extensive bank of customer service reps dedicated to answering questions and concerns posted to their Twitter accounts.
    • More importantly, they are empowered to resolve problems, issue refunds and/or promotional certificates
  • QR Codes – look for increasing use of QR codes (appear on print media/surfaces).  Bring a smart phone in the vicinity of a QR code and it leads you to a web landing page with special offers and/or promotional messages.  This will bring new life to “old” print media
  • Joie de Vive Hotels – excellent promotions, tweets to drive traffic to their blog

What You Need To Know About Mobile Marketing Now
Priceline – Brett Keller, CMO

  • Hotel centric websites are enjoying increasing traffic
  • Flight based websites are down in traffic
  • Total number of shoppers has decreased – they gravitate first to comparison research sites
  • Conversion rates online are down
  • Ad spends are currently going offline – some to TV (Southwest is prime example)
  • There has been a dramatic rise in flash sales
  • Priceline has introduced a new guarantee program – price match plus $25
  • Major problem with Social Media is that it’s difficult to determine users intent
    • It’s hard to target individuals who may be in a buying cycle or frame of mind
  • Marketplace for business may improve with new Twitter feature – Promoted Tweets
  • Mobile Booking Apps attract predominantly last minute travel purchasers
    • Booking through mobile apps are considerably faster than ANY other method of securing a reservation.  Instead of standing in line or making a phone call, you can immediately access necessary information with rebooking options and execute your reservation while everyone else is on hold.
    • Ideal for travelers experiencing flight delays, cancellations etc
    • Has the potential to eliminate rebooking lines – benefit of confirmation being delivered to smart device – just show bar code and go.
    • Generates largest % of same day bookings in travel industry
    • Excellent for road trips – pick a hotel ½ hour down the road while you’re driving (eyes on the road?)
    • Priceline will be launching mobile rental car app – plane lands, book while on tarmac and you’re all set.
    • Popularity of member-only promotional sites are on the rise – keep an eye on Groupon (king of the hill), TripPr, Scout Mob, Voyage Prive, Rue La La, Jetsetter, kgb deals
    • Groupon is expected to add tours in the near future
    • Priceline booking App for iPhone only at present
    • 23% of all phones in use today are smart devices
    • By 2013 more users will use mobile devise rather than web
    • Use curve has seen increase from 1 in 10 users, to 1 in 5 users in ONE year
    • Mobile ads are currently 5% more effective than banner ads
    • Important to include ‘click to call’ strong call to action in any mobile app
    • Mobile ads require shorter, faster, mobile specific landing pages
    • Adding a prominent phone number increased ad response by 30%
    • Increasing number of travel apps will include Geo Tagging
    • Mobile is ALWAYS connected to the user
    • Has ability to pre-guess what the user will need based on geo tagging – answers questions…. Who else is in town?
  • Mobile device manufacturers will get in the travel distribution market

Boston Visitors and Convention Bureau, Cathy Doran, VP Marketing

  • Has introduced new mobile app featuring Events, Sites, Deals, Maps, Restaurants, Ace Tickets
    • Make a reservation and/or purchase a ticket -receipt appears on phone, show and go (like airport mobile phone boarding)
    • Currently developing GPS advertising component
    • You always have to ask….. what will this tool replace – where is the benefit to the user
    • There is a market need for a directory of mobile apps by location – none currently available

What Can Travel E-Commerce Learn From Retail?
Delta Airlines & Forester Research

  • American Airlines has just launched ‘Your Choice’ platform with mobile couponing – interesting concept/development
  • Delta will push flight solutions to customers during flight delay/cancellation circumstances, helping them control their flight experience
  • WorldMate Mobile App already does this – may help eliminate lines at airports
  • Newly designed Marriott.com site is excellent example of transitioning web content to a mobile landscape

Channels:  Established and Up & Comers

  • Travel Scream, Kristen Kopplin VP Marketing
    • White label distribution of travel deals
  • Travel Zoo, Shirley Tafoya, President
    • Market differential and strength is that their deals are constantly tested for link functionality and deal availability
    • They push to newsletter database and network of affiliates and pull from website
    • Introducing a new site format in the next few weeks – in final testing
    • Maintain 3 booking centers worldwide to constantly test functionality of site and offers
    • 50% of travel purchases on their site are on impulse – consumer had no intent to travel to destination prior to seeing the deal
    • 40% click through to a promotional offer but end up purchasing a different offer presented by the client
  • Jetsetter, Drew Pattersen, CEO
    • Launched 9 months ago, leading invitation only travel community
    • Average travel sale/promotion open for 5 days
    • Position themselves as ‘a trusted voice’ as all properties are personally visited and inspected by Jetsetter
    • They present the “excitement of possibility” executed in sophisticated photography
    • They answer the question, “What Makes It Great?”
    • Always asking clients, “Is it Relevant, Engaging, Useful?”

In conclusion: The proliferation of choice is expanding dramatically for consumers of travel products.  The processing of data in more imaginative and analytical ways will continue to produce more customized information, providing an expansion of options for consumers.  These options will be delivered to the consumer with increasingly rapid speed through social media and smart devices.  Within a very short time consumers will turn to their smart devices first and most often (before their computer and before their television) therefore primary marketing will move to mobile platforms quickly.  With the proliferation of choice, trusted voices will increase in importance.

About ATME: The Association Of Travel Marketing Executives (http://www.atme.org)
“The Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME), established in 1980, is a non-profit, professional association made up of experienced and innovative travel industry marketers representing all segments including: airlines; hotels and resorts; cruise lines; tour operators; online travel companies and initiatives; CVB’s; local, state, and international tourist offices; car rental companies; technology and marketing solution providers (ad, marketing, pr agencies, database, crm companies); and media executives.

ATME is the only worldwide organization of its kind to provide members with an ongoing forum for the exchange of creative ideas and effective marketing solutions within the travel industry.”

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