Britain sees record-breaking inbound tourism for first half of 2014Travelandtourworld.com

HBAAInbound tourism to Britain for the period January to June 2014 has broken all previous records, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics ONS.

The number of inbound visits to the country increased 8% year-on-year to 16.4 million. June also broke the record for the number of visits from overseas, at 3.18 million, up 10% from the same month in 2013. Spending for the month was also up 4%, setting a new record spend of £1.97b.

Holiday visits to Britain in June accounted for 44% of trips at 1.4 million, setting a fifth monthly record for holiday visits so far this year, and 12% up on the same month in 2013. Business visits also increased up 6% year-on-year, although they are not yet as high as 2008 levels.

The majority of visitors come from within the European Union, but visits from the rest of the world Asia Pacific, Middle East, Latin America and Africa were also up 2%. David Edwards, head of research and forecasting at national tourism agency VisitBritain, said: “Tourism is an essential part of the wider success of our economy and these first six months have set us up for what could be another record year for inbound tourism.” He also said that the number of visits from emerging markets in Asia and Latin America was “hugely positive”. Minister for tourism Helen Grant said: “It’s fantastic that Britain’s tourism industry is performing so strongly with a record number of visits for 2014 so far and highest ever spend for June.

It shows the government’s tourism strategy is working – creating more jobs, encouraging greater spend and growing the economy.” The head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays Bank, Mike Saul, also commented on the results, attributing the year’s success to increased spending from emerging economies, along with high spending from the US, France and Germany. “The UK’s fine heritage, world-leading attractions and vibrant retail offering continue to attract increasing numbers of overseas visitors,” he said. “With industry leaders signalling increased marketing spend this year at the expense of more aggressive pricing, the industry is currently experiencing an upturn in fortunes.” The results come just three months after the ONS announced record inbound tourism levels for 2013.

via Britain sees record-breaking inbound tourism for first half of 2014Travelandtourworld.com.

Expedia Inc EXPE Cashing in on Growing Travel Market | Tech Insider

expedia-logo-300x150Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has released its second quarter results for the fiscal year 2014, beating analysts’ expectations which helped the stock to advance by 5% in the aftermath. In a segment on CNBC, Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia’s CEO has commented on the company’s strong second quarter results, saying travel market is expanding and “online” takes an ever increasing chunk of it.

The travel company has seen its gross bookings number rise to $13 billion in the second quarter and its revenue increase by 24% year-on-year. Room nights grew at a pace of 20%, hitting a record, and adjusted earnings per share jumped 60% year-on-year.  Such positive results give the company an opportunity to spend more on marketing and investment, which in turn brings more customers and revenue, according to Khosrowshahi.

“Right now we are in a pretty good spot within a competitive marketplace. [...] We are seeing our marketing spending going up faster than revenue but these are big scale businesses when you’re talking about $13 billion of gross bookings in one quarter, so we are able to scale off of our fixed expenses. So I think it is a great situation when you can spend aggressively into marketing but still increase profits [...],” he added.

Last week, Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE’s competitor Priceline Group Inc NASDAQ:PCLN announced the acquisition of OpenTable Inc NASDAQ:OPEN for $2.6 billion in cash, in a deal that marked its expansion into the restaurant business. Asked if  Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has similar plans, Dara Khosrowshahi said that such a move is not in the cards at the moment, as there are still plenty of opportunities in the travel market, which is a $1 trillion dollar-industry and growing. He has disclosed instead that the company plans to look for growth in Europe and Asia.

via Expedia Inc EXPE Cashing in on Growing Travel Market | Tech Insider.

Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing

Earlier this year, we celebrated Facebook’s 10th anniversary, LinkedIn boasted more than 300 million active users while TripAdvisor now has more than 175 million reviews. We have come to expect seeing travel & hospitality stakeholders managing accounts on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even Google+. In other words, social media marketing has moved beyond bells and whistles and is now the mainstay of a sound digital strategy, along with having a transactional, mobile-optimized website and a clean database for frequent, automated emails and/or newsletters. But while social media is now recognized as important, in particular within the travel vertical, managing it remains a constant challenge.

BEST PRACTICES

During its most recent annual summit in Vegas, DMAI Destination Marketing Association International shared the results from a recent study conducted by Development Counsellors International, surveying more than 100 individuals responsible for social media marketing at destination marketing organizations across North America. Some findings were real eye-openers, confirming what many observers suspected: while social media are considered important for a majority, budget allocation remains marginal, at best.

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This chart shows that 71% of destinations surveyed must deal with a social media marketing budget of less than 25,000$. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities.

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This second chart demonstrates beyond any doubt how social media are under-represented in the big picture of digital marketing budgets. Roughly 76% of destinations allocate less than 10% of their total marketing budgets to social media, regardless of the size of the digital marketing budget to being with!

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So how are social media budgets spent? Some very interesting findings here, shedding light on some best practices by destinations in their social media efforts. According to the survey, most popular budget allocations are:

  • 39% in paid promotion: promoted tweets, Facebook ads and promoted posts, etc.
  • 29% in content development: graphics, writing, photos and videos, apps.
  • 28% invest in Human Resources for engagement.
  • 18% spend on contest initiatives.
  • 13% spend their budget on monitoring tools such as Radian6, VocusSocial, Sysomos, etc.

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One eye-opening finding is that destination brands with intermediate social media marketing budgets seem to be the ones outsourcing this function the most. In particular organizations with budgets within the 25,000-50,000$ bracket, 83% of which outsource their social media activities, handing it over to agencies and/or freelance experts. We are not so surprised to see that destinations with the smallest budgets tend to keep activities in-house, since budgets are scarce to being with. Nevertheless, it is somewhat surprising to find out that virtually one out of every three DMO outsources its social media activities.

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Finally, when surveying what are today’s top social media challenges face by DMOs, again I was somewhat surprised not to see some concerns rank higher, i.e. maintaining engagement, or budget constraints. In fact, the biggest challenge seems to be one shared by many industries alike, and not just in marketing: time, or a lack therof. Over 30% of destination marketing managers identified time as a key challenge, specially with new social networks and mobile apps creeping up all the time and despite of softwares that help managing it all.

It’s no wonder the second biggest challenge is to stay abreast of new trends and technologies that can help making sense of it all. In fact, attending industry events, conferences and participating in various training and webinars is a key component of staying on top of evolving trends and finding out the tools and tech to help managers in their everyday chores handling social media activities.

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One last word. Return on investment (ROI) is almost always a key performance indicator in most organizations, yet it remains elusive in particular in destination marketing, where direct sales are not core to their business model (compared, say, to a hotel, restaurant or transportation). Nevertheless, it’s surprising to see only 8.1% of respondents identifying this challenge as key. Does it make it less important to measure? Of course not, but it does reflect how difficult it remains to “prove” social media campaigns, and that destination marketing organizations have integrated different ways to address this concern in some shape or form.

via Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing.

Airbnb and Uber Partner with Concur to Enable Next Generation of Business Travel | Concur

New Partnerships Reflect Growing Collaborative Consumption Among Business Travelers                  

airbnb_logo_detailLos Angeles, Calif., July 29, 2014 – Concur, the world’s leading provider of spend management solutions and services, announced Airbnb and Uber as the latest partners to join its growing platform to improve business travel and streamline expenses . With this partnership, the benefits of collaborative consumption are now available to the business world: Business travelers are given easier ways to book their trips, and complete their expenses, while finance and travel managers maintain greater accuracy, visibility and manageability.

“This new generation of platform partners reflects the transformation taking place for today’s business customer,” said Tim MacDonald, executive vice president at Concur. “By partnering with these innovative companies, we are building a connected platform that radically improves the experience for the business traveler. With Airbnb and Uber, we are enabling, in business travel, what consumers already enjoy about collaborative consumption in their leisure. Capturing this spend then gives companies greater real-time transparency into traveler expenditure and itineraries.” 

The partnerships with Airbnb and Uber signal increasing momentum for the expanding list of partners joining the Concur platform like United, Marriott, IHG and Avis to bring seamless connections to their customers for direct bookings and spend management.  Specifics around momentum include:

  • More and more business travelers are booking Airbnb properties:  27x the number of transactions for Airbnb captured in Concur expense reports this year over last year. In order to accommodate the increasing number of business travelers seeking cost-effective non-traditional accommodations, later this year, Airbnb will release an integration through Concur TripLink, enabling employers to gain full visibility into each booking to ensure Duty of Care requirements are met.
  • Business travelers are increasingly adopting Uber for ground transportation: 5x year-over-year growth in Uber ridership captured in Concur expense reports. Uber’s integration with the Concur platform will provide a connected and effortless experience for all Concur business travelers that use Uber. These travelers will be able to request, ride, pay, and automatically expense – all from their mobile phone. The integration between Uber and the Concur platform will enhance and expand customer visibility into ground transportation spend.
  • In addition, American Express is partnering with Concur and Uber to enable American Express Corporate Card Clients in the US to automatically enroll their employees to capture Uber receipts within Concur and have immediate visibility into the spend. This three-way integration between the Concur platform, Uber and American Express will be available this fall.

via Airbnb and Uber Partner with Concur to Enable Next Generation of Business Travel | Concur.

Digital Marketing Trends Redefining Tourism Prospects | Travelandtourworld.comTravelandtourworld.com

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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Technological advancement has completely revolutionized the concept of travelling round the globe. With the increasing number of travel technology providers, tourism in different exotic destinations gets a boost. Hassle-free and instant in its function, travel apps are the latest trend among global tourists.

Digital marketing is the most sought-after modish trend to promote tourism. Offering promotional deals is a simple way to invite potential customers to travel while segmenting your market to find interests for touring.

Social media marketing has immensely contributed to increase tourist influx in unconventional destinations along with boosting tourism in picturesque locales.Among the 25 major international markets surveyed, Asia ranks top in online travel bookings, mobile searches and mobile bookings.

Asian travellers lead the field when it comes to mobile travel bookings and searches performed, at 33% and 59% respectively, compared to the global average of 25% and 46% respectively.Travellers continue to use the internet for both information and booking.

Travel advertisers need to take full take advantage of the opportunities online advertising offer, as the key component in their marketing strategy.If you are a travel advertiser, then Adform has a range of new and exciting Rich Media formats that will perfectly fit your campaign objectives.

For instance, what should you do when you want to entice travellers to visit a specific island? How can you recreate that beach sensation for them? Check out their Sandstorm format and the revolutionizing Snowball format for a brighter tourism prospect.

via Digital Marketing Trends Redefining Tourism Prospects | Travelandtourworld.comTravelandtourworld.com.

Travel Marketing the Social Media Way

Travel Marketing the Social Media Way

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By Ilya Albert, Published June 27, 2014

You would have looked for their advices on going to places they suggest and booking the accommodation there that they would tell you to be the best for you. The advent of the social media seems to have changed this concept completely.

Making Travel Plans from Social Media

As many as 40% of the travelers use social media for travel inspiration and 42% use it for planning their trip, says Trip Advisor. But what seems to be an important information provided by this travel website is that an overwhelming 76% seems to use social media platforms for sharing their travel experiences, Almost 91% of the travelers who take social media into account post photos there. Besides, many others also use social media platforms to post videos or write ups to share their online friends. Therefore, these experiences are surely going to impress others and influence their decisions in future while going for a trip.

Finding the Best Accommodation on Social Media

Worried how to find the perfect place to stay during your trip? Social media can help you in this process as well. Hundreds of hotels and timeshare companies are advertising on Facebook and other social media platforms. This provides you with the option of finding the best options for staying, which can make your trip an enchanting one. While you can go for luxury hotels, there are also budget options, such as timeshares and bed & breakfast inns, which can help you complete the trip within a short time. Check out different social media platforms for advice from the people who have already treaded the route you are planning to travel.

Social Media as a Travel Best Practice

According to LinkedIn, the integration of social media in the travel industry for marketing has been one of the best practices. More and more travel and tourism companies are engaging these days in the process of social media marketing. In fact, different governments are also engaging in advertising the places in their territories as the perfect travel destinations. Besides, these governments and also a few travel companies are providing different types of offers to the travelers. This is driving more and more people with every passing day to use these social media platforms for making their travel plans.Social Media becoming Important Travel Marketing PlatformTravel companies have already started taking the social media platforms seriously. They are planning special marketing programs on these websites. Many of them are creating pages of their own on social media sites, such as Facebook. They are using these pages to provide information about their offerings. Besides, they are also providing images and videos of these places to make the tourists more interested in them. Hence, many of these companies are finding that a large number of their customers are being mobilized from the social media platforms.

Marketing in the Social Media Groups on Travel

Have you already joined a social media website for making travel plans? Are you worried how to start with the process? You will find quite a few groups, which are engaged in discussions about travel. Join them. You can even ask questions to clarify your doubts or finding the best destinations. This is why many travel marketing companies also join these travel groups on social media. They find these a perfect place to market their plans. When you ask a question, they can answer it and, at the same time, publicize their offerings as well. This is likely to help them increase their business revenues significantly.Like any other process, travel marketing was also growing and transforming over the years. As social media became an integral part of the life, it entered almost all the industries. The travel industry was no exception as well. Social media has been utilized significantly. Hence, it has helped to take the process of travel a significant step forward.

via Travel Marketing the Social Media Way.

REPORT: Apps Are Key To Reaching Travelers – AllFacebook

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David Cohen on June 20, 2014 

The way people travel has moved far beyond the days of travel agents and calling cards thanks to rapid advances in mobile technology, and a new report from Facebook and Boston Consulting Group offers a look at how travel marketing needs to change in order to keep pace.

Key findings from “Travel Goes Mobile,” according to a post on the Facebook for Business page, were:

  • Mobile should be integral and central to your marketing strategy. People spend the majority of their time online using their mobile devices, yet most travel companies haven’t reflected this shift in their marketing and business strategies.
  • The proliferation of applications will become increasingly prevalent in a mobile-driven world. As people spend more time on their smartphones and tablets — primarily via apps — travel companies have vast opportunities to communicate with new and existing customers during every phase of the travel journey. From becoming inspired, dreaming about where to go because of an ad, a post, or a picture, to planning, booking, experiencing, reflecting, and sharing, digital and mobile technologies enhance these experiences.
  • Sophisticated apps enable travel companies to foster loyalty with new and existing customers. Apps provide direct lines of communication; they help determine intent and add brand value over the long term.

Facebook Global Head of Travel Strategy Lee McCabe, co-author of the report, wrote in the Facebook for Business post:

This paper reveals the extraordinary role mobile can and will continue to play in travel and the tremendous value it can add to travel companies’ and travelers’ experiences alike. Importantly, this paper highlights the urgent need for travel companies to develop sophisticated apps, which, when combined with rich data and sophisticated targeting capabilities, allow for personalized marketing at scale. The ability to perfectly time and tailor messages is very powerful from a business standpoint — for both brand and direct response-related objectives.

via REPORT: Apps Are Key To Reaching Travelers – AllFacebook.

Skyscanner aims to challenge Baidu in the Chinese travel market – Telegraph

Edinburgh-based company acquires local start-up Youbibi to gain foothold in domestic travel comparison

bai_1950695bBaidu is China’s Google, dominating general web search and competing in many specialist search markets Photo: REUTERS

By Christopher Williams, Technology, Media and Telecoms Editor

Skyscanner, the British flight search company, aims to challenge Baidu, the dominant Chinese web search engine, with the acquisition of Youbibi, a local domestic travel price comparison start-up

The deal will see Youbibi’s 20-strong team, based in Shenzen, come under the control of Skyscanner’s existing Chinese operation in Beijing.

Skyscanner, based in Edinburgh, said the acquisition will provide mostly expertise in product development and domestic travel. Youbibi’s search receives only 100,000 visitors per month, roughly a tenth of Skyscanner’s Chinese website.

skyscanner_logoAndy Sleigh, Skyscanner’s general manager for Asia, said: “It’s primarily and engineering workforce. Our team in Beijing is primarily a sales and marketing workforce.”Skyscanner refused to disclose the financial terms of the acquisition.

Like Skyscanner, Youbibi specialises in ‘metasearch’, or searching comparison sites. It is focused on the Chinese domestic tourism market, which the central government last year said it would make a development priority over the next seven years. Chinese travellers will spend $75bn online in 2017, according to estimates by iResearch.

Steven Pang, Youbibi’s chief executive, said: “We are proud of the technology that we have developed and, by bringing this together on our platform with Skyscanner’s global flight expertise, we believe we can create a really exciting travel search tool for all Chinese travellers.”

Skyscanner established its Beijing operation in 2012 via a deal with Baidu, which controls about four fifths of the Chinese web search market. The British company provides Baidu with international flight price comparison data.

Its push into the domestic market with Youbibi will put it in direct competition with Qunar, Baidu’s own domestic travel search tool.

via Skyscanner aims to challenge Baidu in the Chinese travel market – Telegraph.

Survey Says: Millennials Now Drive Leisure Travel in U.S. | TravelPulse

JAMES SHILLINGLAW | JUNE 24, 2014

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For the past 10 years, the travel industry was focused on Baby Boomers, who were considered the most lucrative market. As Boomers got older, it was assumed, they would have more time and more money to travel.

That certainly has been the case over the last decade, and boomers continue to be a major market for travel. But now the industry may want to refocus on the often forgotten Millennial or Gen Y traveler, at least according to the 2014 Portrait of American Travelers, an annual survey by MMGY Global, a travel marketing services firm.

According to the survey, Millennials those between the ages of 18 and 35 will be the driving force behind the continued recovery of the U.S. travel industry. They are also expected to spend incrementally more on travel services than any other age group over the next 12 months.

The survey found that 24 percent of Millennial travelers are planning to take more overnight leisure trips in the next 12 months, versus 14 percent who are planning fewer trips, a net difference of 10 percent. This compares with a negative net difference of 1 percent for Boomers, and negative net differences of 3 percent and 6 percent for Matures and Xers, respectively.

Gen Yers also plan to spend significantly more on leisure travel services in the next 12 months, well ahead than any of the other generational cohorts: an average of $887 on a previous-year base of $4,499. Gen Xers intend to spend the second highest increment: $666 on a previous-year base of $4,341.

According the MMGY Global, both trends are consistent with the manner in which Millennials view the sanctity of their vacation time. Last year they took an average of 4.6 overnight trips for leisure purposes versus an average of 4.2 trips for all U.S. households with an annual income over $50,000.

“Six in 10 Millennials would rather spend their money on experiences than material things,” said Steve Cohen, vice president of insights for MMGY Global. “This is presumably one of the reasons we’ve observed the spike in their intentions with respect to leisure travel in the year ahead…Millennials’ planning, booking and sharing habits are significantly different from those of older leisure travelers.”

All this could be good for travel agents. In an earlier survey for the American Society of Travel Agents on the value of using a travel agent, MMGY Global found nearly 60 percent of Millennials who used travel agents believed that their vacations were better than those organized without their assistance. The study also found that consumers that use an agent travel more average 4.7 trips than consumers that don’t use a travel agent average 3.6 trips.

On the other hand, Millennials’ travel interests don’t always extend to more distant destinations. Gen Yers are more likely to have taken a “staycation” during the last 12 months than all other travelers. Thirty-three percent took at least one vacation within 50 miles of their home, versus 27 percent among all other leisure travelers. One third said their choice was made to save money to take a more substantial vacation during the year ahead.

The MMGY Portrait of American Travelers, now in its 24th year, reflects the lifestyles and travel behavior of approximately 57 million American households who spent an average of $4,429 on leisure travel in the last year. Collectively, they represent nearly $240 billion in U.S. travel spending. The survey polls 2,550 active leisure travelers who reside in households with an annual income of $50,000 or more and who have taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months on which they used overnight accommodations.

via Survey Says: Millennials Now Drive Leisure Travel in U.S. | TravelPulse.