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.
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.”
It has been an absolute privilege today to take part as the moderator in the launch of a landmark study and event organised by Amadeus. Their new report on the Future of Travel in the GCC is undoubtedly one of the best ever and most important travel industry related reports conducted in the region.
Drawing on the expertise of industry leaders across 22 travel brands and insights from over 1,000 end travellers this report describes the key effects that will shape the future of travel for this exciting and important part of the world.
The headline “Big Effect” is that rapidly changing demographics will fuel a major shift in GCC travel over next 15 years. The coming-of-age of the GCC’s youthful population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next fifteen years, as digital natives instinctively turn to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.
Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, it will shake up traditional behaviours to become increasingly self-directed. As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic forces such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class, will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.
The report, written by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next fifteen years.
“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “The travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population stand to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners to shape the future of travel in this region.”
Further key findings include:
Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruise, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.
Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases -Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20 billion on tourism infrastructure and $140 billion on transport.
The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. The difficulty of obtaining a visa has been the main reason for 33% of travellers surveyed not taking trips as often as they would like. By improving accessibility within the region and abroad, the number of intra-regional travellers is expected to increase four-fold by 2030.
“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are many more subtle factors also at play. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.
The report was informed by a survey of some 1,000 travellers from the region as well as interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. It highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts a travel landscape will develop in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.
To download a free copy of the report “Shaping the future of Travel in the GCC: Big Travel Effects” please visit:
By Smita Nair • Apr 29, 2014 9:00 am EDT
Priceline and its peers such as Expedia (EXPE) and Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) have been investing in marketing and promotion, technology, and personnel in an attempt to improve long-term operating results, but these expenses have pressured operating margins. Priceline’s management said on the earnings call that “operating margins were impacted by 146 bps of deleverage and offline advertising mainly related to our Booking.com TV campaigns in the U.S. and Australia and the inclusion of KAYAK offline advertising.” Although Priceline has managed to efficiently improve its margins, its peers have struggled.
In 2013, Priceline’s total online advertising expense was approximately $1.8 billion, up 41.2% year-over-year. A substantial portion of this was spent internationally through Internet search engines, meta-search and travel research services, and affiliate marketing. The company has worked on building brand awareness for Booking.com, Priceline.com, Agoda.com, KAYAK, and Rentalcars.com via aggressive marketing and promotion campaigns. It said it uses online search engines (primarily Google), meta-search and travel research services, and affiliate marketing as primary means of generating traffic to its websites. It also invested approximately $127.5 million in offline advertising via television, print and radio.
Priceline said its online advertising ROIs were down year-over-year for 2013. Its online advertising as a percentage of gross profit has increased due to lower returns on investment (ROIs) from online advertising, brand mix within the group, and channel mix within certain of its brands. Plus, its international brands are generally growing faster than U.S. brands, and usually spend a higher percentage of gross profit on online advertising.
Priceline CEO Darren Huston said in a Bloomberg interview that the company spends more on search ads on Google, and that results from Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) haven’t worked out for the company. Huston said in the article that the ad spending would be modified to include TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP), the KAYAK travel search engine, and Expedia’s (EXPE) search site Trivago. When asked about the emergence of Google as a potential competitor, Hudson said he was not worried, adding “Google of course respects us as an advertiser.”
Expedia mentioned in its annual filing that its marketing channels include social media sites such as Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR). The marketing initiatives also include promotional offers and traveler loyalty programs such as Welcome Rewards and Expedia Rewards that are recorded under its expenses. Orbitz (OWW) said in its annual filing that its marketing expense increased 16% or $39.5 million to $292 million, due largely to the growth of its private label distribution channel, which increased affiliate commissions by $23.5 million, and search engine and other online marketing of $32.7 million.
by Laurie Sullivan, 14th April 2015, 2:35 PM
Phoenix Marketing International will release findings this week from an online travel audit analyzing consumer sentiment about the most popular travel industry ads on TV.
The study, “Online Travel Audit,” fielded in mid-March, analyzed 50 television ads from more than 30 travel search and reservation Web sites. It also looked at travel-related
advertisers, such as hotel and car rental, including American Airlines, Hotwire, Priceline, Trivago, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Southwest, United and Hilton. The study compiled more than 3,500 responses.
Josh Berger, research director at Phoenix Marketing International, gave MediaDailyNews a first look at results. He said researchers also tested ads from American Airlines, Southwest, Delta, and United, as well as travel destinations like Orlando and Texas. “Ads can succeed several ways, whether they engage through a relevant message or empathy,” he said. “A straightforward approach as to what makes Trivago different than other search travel sites seems to work for the site.”
Business and leisure travelers identified Trivago for its advertisement The Perfect Hotel as the overall top-performing message. More than 55% of leisure and 50% of business travelers said they would recommend the site to others. The newcomer’s message tells consumers the site can compare hotel prices from more than 100 Web sites, adjusting the price depending on the budget.
Berger said Google did not rank within the first five sites. Other sites like TripAdvisor and Hotwire maintain a category lead. “We really think that as the survey product gets built up over time, it will give us a better understanding of trends and the growth of Google, as well as sites like Trivago,” he said.
Overall, Hotwire took the No. 2 and No. 3 spot among leisure travelers, with its ad From New York to Texas ranking No. 1 with the highest recall at 81%, followed by its Florida to Seattle ad with 79%. Expedia and Priceline rounded out the top five overall spots for leisure travelers, respectively.
While many leisure travelers are more concerned with saving money, business travelers look for conveniences. Business travelers ranked Hotwire No. 2 and Hotels.com, No. 3, with Kayak and Expedia following in that order. Hotels.com, The Obvious Choice & Captain Obvious, had the highest recall among business travelers.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s 50 Million Tree Pledge took the most buzzworthy ad in the category, with 30% of travelers saying they would likely speak positively about the advertisement to others. The ad improves the consumer’s impression of the car rental company by tapping into charitable effort. After seeing the ad, 60% of people feel better overall about the company compared to a travel average of 36%.
By Jennifer Pemberton
Three months into 2014 and we’re past making predictions of what the year in social media will look like. We’re living it. The ATTA is focusing on four major trends this month that will shape online life this year — highlighting the ones that will be most relevant for the travel industry, from how to find travelers on social media and speak their language to how to organize your office to best engage socially with your customers.
McCabe recently spoke with Tnooz by phone about how travel marketers are getting better at using Facebook to gain transactions.
He had a lot to say about mobile, particularly about how Facebook can help travel companies maintain engagement with their own branded mobile apps. He also thinks travel suppliers still haven’t fully grasped how mobile will upend their digital marketing strategies.
A closer attention to travel marketing
In 2011, Facebook created a team of employees whose jobs are to liaise with travel brands. McCabe oversees this group, which he says was created:
“…to better understand brands’ needs, learn to speak their language, and most importantly, build the right products and services for the industry…. We verticalized for several industries, not just travel…. I can’t give you specifics, but travel is one of our fastest growing verticals.”
Facebook doesn’t disclose its headcount numbers or revenue by vertical. But a source at the company has put the travel vertical headcount at a little more than 50 employees.
Read the full Q&A with McCabe
80 million overnights booked by foreign visitors in 2020 – this is the goal of the German National Tourism Board (DZT), which in 2013 saw figures close in on this target. At 71.9 million visitors, a new record was set. 75 per cent came from European countries, of whom the majority were Dutch, followed by the Swiss.
In his speech, Klaus Laepple, president of DZT, struck a political note: “Germany’s tourism industry can only flourish if Germany’s neighbours are economically stable.
If your heart beats for tourism then I urge you to vote in the European electioins.” Speaking on Wednesday at ITB Berlin, Petra Hedorfer, head of the board of DZT, noted that the UK, Russia and Switzerland had recorded the highest growth rates. Germany was also the favourite holiday of the Swiss. For the last four years Germany had been the second most popular destination, behind Spain and ahead of France.
Iris Gleicke (SPD), the Federal government’s newly appointed tourism commissioner, said she intended to focus on improving employees’ working conditions and their opportunities for vocational training. “They have to be able to go to a restaurant or on holiday themselves.“ Furthermore, with the digital revolution taking hold in tourism, she said she aimed to make sure small and medium-sized enterprises received their fair share of business.