Consumers increasingly perceive brands as media companies, a perception that is both fueled by companies creating more engaging content and consumer expectation of more interactive and interesting advertising.
A recent report sheds some light for travel marketers looking to engage more deeply with video content – a medium ideally suited to the beauty and story of the travel experience.
The survey of 1,000 Americans, and 500 marketers, comes from content marketers LevelsBeyond, and points out that brands are leaving opportunities on the table, as many brands don’t believe that their customers even want to see videos from the brands.
There’s also a disconnect between what consumers want to watch and what brands provide. Surprisingly, consumers are especially eager to consume videos that are instructive and teach how to do a particular skill. This insight could be leveraged by travel marketers in spaces where active sports or other insider knowledge could be packaged as a “how to” for a specific destination, vacation or location.Comedy comes in a second, following by product videos, micro-documentaries and animations. Travel marketers should take note of the 33% of surveyed consumers that enjoy micro-documentaries – this result is a sign that this type of content could be a way to hook browsing travelers into a purchase mindset.
However, the surveyed marketers did not match what the surveyed consumers wanted to watch. Brands are focusing less on instructive videos and more videos from their own branded events. A slight focus switch from “event videos” to “micro-documentaries” could be a welcome move by consumers. Social sharing also becomes a very important component of successful online video, as consumers are much more likely to watch videos that were shared within a network. And when a video is trending, a solid 38% of respondents would be more inclined to watch that video.Despite this compelling evidence that successful social sharing drives ROI of video, brands are behind in understanding how this mechanic works.
Another piece of data from Videology shows an immense shift into what video advertisers are seeking for the investment. The jump in cross-screen analysis reveals that this has quickly become one of the most important metrics for video advertising.The videos are pegged to their ability to bring attention and traffic across screens, liberating some of the conversion pressure for one particular platform as its impact can be tracked across screens.Marketers are finally starting to see video as a key component of the cross-platform marketing mix; now brands must be more considered when it comes to matching consumer appetite for video.The full report can be downloaded here.
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.
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.
This chart shows that 71% of destinations surveyed must deal with a social media marketing budget of less than 25,000$. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities.
This second chart demonstrates beyond any doubt how social media are under-represented in the big picture of digital marketing budgets. Roughly 76% of destinations allocate less than 10% of their total marketing budgets to social media, regardless of the size of the digital marketing budget to being with!
So how are social media budgets spent? Some very interesting findings here, shedding light on some best practices by destinations in their social media efforts. According to the survey, most popular budget allocations are:
- 39% in paid promotion: promoted tweets, Facebook ads and promoted posts, etc.
- 29% in content development: graphics, writing, photos and videos, apps.
- 28% invest in Human Resources for engagement.
- 18% spend on contest initiatives.
- 13% spend their budget on monitoring tools such as Radian6, VocusSocial, Sysomos, etc.
One eye-opening finding is that destination brands with intermediate social media marketing budgets seem to be the ones outsourcing this function the most. In particular organizations with budgets within the 25,000-50,000$ 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.
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.
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.
Airbnb have recently announced and launched a complete overhaul of its brand identity.
Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world through mobile phones or the internet. Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point, with over 800,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. It has found accommodation solutions for over 15 million customers.
The launch is not without controversy with a number of industry commentators poking fun at the suggestive nature of the logo in addition to claims of plagiarism.
We like it….and have taken an extract from their blog written by Brian Chesky one of the co-founders that provides insights to the thinking behind the new brand identity.
“In the end, nothing can express our identity more profoundly than the stories of people who make up this community. When we started Airbnb, I had no idea about the people we would meet, or the friendships I would make. Then I met Amol, one of the first guests, who later invited me to his wedding in India. I met Sebastian, who was trapped in his house in the middle of the London Riots in 2011. Before his own mother had a chance to check that he was okay, seven of his former guests did. And I met Shell, who saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and listed her home for free to those who were displaced. These people, along with millions of others, have their own unique backgrounds and life experiences. We all come from vastly different cultures and places. And yet, no matter how many miles may separate us, we are united by the universal, powerful, human desire to connect, to understand, and to belong. So together, with this new identity, I look forward to starting the next chapter of this improbable journey with the idea that first set it in motion—the belief that belonging can take us anywhere”. — Brian Chesky
Read more on the drivers behind the new brand positioning at:
Tourism New Zealand‘s 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has once again been recognised on the world stage, with its latest win the prestigious Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Grand Award, Marketing.
The annual PATA Gold Awards recognise tourism organisations that have made outstanding contributions to successfully promote the travel industry in Asia Pacific. This year, more than 180 entries from 66 organisations and individuals worldwide were received. The award will be formally presented to Tourism New Zealand on 19 September at the PATA Gold Awards Luncheon as part of the PATA Travel Mart in Cambodia.
The Marketing Award will be presented to Tourism New Zealand for its “100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand” campaign. Tourism New Zealand aims to leverage the huge media and consumer attention that The Hobbit Trilogy has and will continue to achieve, and convert that attention into travel to New Zealand – the country where the movies were made. The campaign, developed in partnership with The Hobbit moviemakers Warner Brothers and Weta Workshop, has been the primary marketing campaign for Tourism New Zealand in its key offshore markets. The Hobbit and associated marketing campaigns have been a significant contributor to visitor arrival growth to New Zealand over the last 18 months.
“As an international marketing body it is incredibly encouraging to receive acknowledgement of our campaign activity from fellow international tourism bodies and professionals – and we are extremely proud to receive this award“, says Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive Tourism New Zealand.
“Our 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign continues to go from strength-to-strength, and it is fantastic to receive such significant acknowledgment as we gear up to launch our activity to leverage the third and last of The Hobbit movies – set to be released later this year.“
Holiday arrivals into New Zealand for the year-ending May 2014 were up 8.9 per cent on the previous year with key target market for the Middle-earth campaign, the United States showing 15.3 per cent growth in holiday arrivals.
London Tops MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index as Most Visited City Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai Round Out Top Five,
London tops the list as the destination of choice for international travelers for the third time in four years, according to the annual MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index released today.
Now in its fourth year, the index provides a ranking of the 132 most travelled cities from around the world.Rounding out the top five cities are Bangkok, Paris, Singapore and Dubai, which are benefiting from a surge in international travel fueled by an expanding middle class, innovations in luxury travel and rising need for business travel. The index also indicates this surge will continue, even with more technology and collaboration tools available to businesses.
According to the study, London is projected to receive 18.7 million international visitors in 2014. Forecasted visitors to the rest of the top five cities include:Bangkok – 16.42 millionParis – 15.57 million visitors Singapore – 12.47 million visitors Dubai – 11.95 million visitors
“The index points to a continued strong demand and interest in air travel, both for business and personal travel,” said Ann Cairns, president of International Markets, MasterCard. “The recognition of this year’s top international destinations reinforces the continued importance of cities as business, cultural and economic hubs. And, that’s where we come in. Every day, we help consumers and businesses maximize all of the travel opportunities available to them, including a safe and secure way to pay no matter where they are across the globe.”
JAMES SHILLINGLAW | JUNE 24, 2014
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.
Early Movers Can Cement Significant Advantage by Personalizing the Travel Journey
According to a New Report by BCG and Facebook BOSTON, June 19, 2014—
Although it was one of the first industries to be disrupted by digital commerce, travel and tourism has been slow to embrace the opportunities offered by mobile technology, according to Travel Goes Mobile, a new report by The Boston Consulting Group and Facebook. This reticence has left the playing field wide open for early movers. Those that miss the shift will find catching up increasingly difficult once consumers patterns of behavior and relationships with mobile apps and the companies behind them solidify.
“Early movers in travel, especially those companies that design successful mobile apps, have the opportunity to establish lasting advantage,” said Jason Guggenheim a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. “For many travel suppliers, this means an opportunity to strengthen or reestablish customer relationships that have been eroded by online intermediaries. For intermediaries, it means rethinking their offerings to protect the positions they have established on the PC. Winners will need to understand their customers’ mobile-usage trends, tailor their marketing, and even adapt their operating models accordingly.”
Estimates of the number of apps installed on the average smartphone vary, depending on who is doing the counting, but they range from about 25 to about 40. So far, only a few travel-company apps are used regularly by a significant share of consumers. Most travel companies have converted fewer than 20 percent of their PC customers to mobile-app usage, and no travel app has established itself as the go-to resource on more than 2 percent of smartphones.
The report argues that the biggest opportunity for travel companies is to cement relationships with customers—especially a company’s best, high-value customers—by offering them truly personalized service and experience. Mobile apps generate information related to usage, searching, time of use, location of use, spending, preferences, friends and followers, and countless other kinds of data. The more a travel company engages customers through mobile devices, the more information it can synthesize to personalize messages and the in-app customer experience. This information can also be used to segment the company’s best customers on the basis of frequency of use and expenditure, among other criteria, including their current location, time of day, and status.
“The tools and capabilities available to travel companies continue to expand as digital and mobile technologies improve,” Lee McCabe, global head of travel strategy at Facebook and a report coauthor, said. “This paper reveals the extraordinary role mobile technology can and will continue to play in travel and the tremendous value it can add to travel companies and travelers’ experiences. Sophisticated apps, combined with rich data and targeting capabilities, allow for personalized marketing at scale. The ability to perfectly time and tailor messages on the basis of rich data is very powerful from a business standpoint—for both brand- and direct-response-related objectives.”
The single log-in functionality offered by Facebook, for example, enables seamless movement among apps, eliminating the need to log in for each visit. Innovations such as app install ads, conversion ads, and deep links further simplify moving among multiple apps, which is great for the user and generates tremendous data for marketers.
The report points out that mobile “gatekeepers” have the power and sophistication to vastly augment travel companies’ own data-collection and analysis efforts with the vast amount of consumer information they manage. The biggest gatekeepers today are the device manufacturers and the companies behind the main mobile-operating systems and app stores, app-to-app marketers, and social networks and messaging app operators. The top three—Facebook, Google, and Apple—currently account for half of total app usage.
The report argues that, in terms of apps, travel companies want their customers to do three things: discover and download their apps, engage with them at multiple stages of the travel journey, and find the experience so simple, satisfying, and useful that they want to come back and use the apps again—to the exclusion of other available travel apps.
This means that travel companies need to design apps with functionality that customers—especially high-value customers—prize and that other travel companies cannot match, market the app effectively for both ease of installation and engagement, experiment and bring out new functionality quickly to keep the app fresh and make it more useful, and make the experience more personal over time.
To download a copy of the report, please go to www.bcgperspectives.com.
For years travel industry insiders have bemoaned the fact that big, successful brands haven’t emerged since companies such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, and to a lesser extent, Kayak, made their marks at least a decade ago.
In the interim in Europe, brands such as Booking.com, Skyscanner, and Trivago have
arrived on the scene, and in China Qunar and Ctrip are becoming household names.
The emergence of Uber and Airbnb, with valuations that dwarf those of major car rental companies and hotel chains, truly takes things to a new level as the two have the potential to be global brands despite the regulatory issues they must overcome.
Uber and Airbnb seemingly came out of nowhere, and they and their competitors are transformative in the way they are changing widely held notions of the hired car business and lodging.
Uber just landed an additional $1.2 billion in funding at a $17 billion valuation and its mobile app, along with that of its competitor Lyft, is driving incremental demand and helping to change what consumers have come to expect in car-rental services.
Airbnb, too, which has a whopping valuation north of $10 billion, is helping to redefine lodging, and as Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian states, although Airbnb will inevitably evolve, it is here to stay.
How Different Should Startups Be?
Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have the potential to be big global brands because they are truly different than the companies in their respective sectors that preceded them.
Some would say they are “remarkably different” than their predecessors.
That phrase comes to mind because I was recently talking with Sam Shank, the CEO of HotelTonight and an avid travel startup investor, about the pitches he gets from travel startups.
Shank told me that when startups talk to him about their differentiation, he essentially asks them if what they are building is “remarkably different.”
A travel startup such as Hipmunk, for example, created its Agony Index for flight and hotel search, but it can be debated whether that was a unique enough foundation to lead to later success. Hipmunk hasn’t stopped there, of course, but you get the idea.
To be truly successful, a travel startup should strive to be remarkably different from the pack — like Uber and Airbnb and their competitors arguably are.
Which brings us to travel startup Hopper, and what might be called the travel startup brain drain.
Founded by Frederic LeLonde in 2007, Hopper set out to build a huge destination database and to transform the trip-planning process.
With $22 million in funding, Hopper waited for about a half dozen years before it debuted an “alpha” site, showcasing its long-awaited trip-planning product.
It didn’t impress.
Now comes word that Hopper has pivoted because after seven years in the making, Hopper discovered that travelers weren’t particularly interested in its destination content and trip-planning offering.
In its latest iteration, Hopper has travelers accessing “reports” about airfares on potential flights to discover the best time to fly.
It’s as though the Hopper team has been operating in a bubble, divorced from marketplace realities and after having fallen in love with the technology it built, it now has come up with another product that travelers won’t be interested in to justify all the labor that it did over the years.
No one has been able to make a business out of predictions on when to fly, and even Bing Travel, which inherited flight-prediction technology with its acquisition of Farecast several years ago, recently killed its flight-prediction feature.
By all accounts LeLonde is a very intelligent technologist, and he’s had previous success, having founded Newtrade Technologies and selling it to Expedia in 2002.
But, Hopper wasn’t – and apparently isn’t – creating anything that is remarkably different, whether it is in trip-planning, fare predictions, or a rumored metasearch product.
LeLonde, and in fact a whole slew of well-intentioned travel startup folks, especially those countless founders and co-founders who are laboring away at trip-planning startups and trip-planning apps in various forms, are essentially spinning their wheels and wasting investors’ money, too.