Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

Little has been written about Expedia Media Solutions, the small but fast-growing advertising agency arm of the online travel giant Expedia. In 2015, the division is estimated to have generated about $200 million in revenue. That’s pocket change for the Bellevue, Wash.,-based parent company, which earned nearly $2 billion in the third quarter of last year alone.

Yet Expedia Media Solutions — or MeSo, as it’s known internally — is notable for its solid growth. The division had a 23% annualized growth rate on a nine-month, trailing period, as of the third-quarter, according to a Tnooz analysis of the parent company’s filings, which was corroborated by Kevin Kopelman, director of research at investment firm Cowen and Company. (Expedia declined to break out official numbers for this story.)

Fractured market

Expedia Media Solutions helps clients — primarily travel ones, such as hotels, airlines, and tourism boards — by creating and running ad campaigns aimed at boosting bookings, visitor numbers, and awareness. In a rare competitive advantage, it knows how much value a client earns from an ad because the bulk of its ads link-in to Expedia-owned brands, where it can measure changes in demand and user behaviour before, during, and after a campaign.

A hotel chain, for instance, could see if a sponsored listing in search results generated meaningful returns in room-night growth or if a brand campaign coincided with a lift in intention-to-buy among consumers. Expedia Media Solutions is notable for its attempt to bring enterprise-scale solutions and thinking to travel marketing — a sector that might be broadly described as being small-bore, fractured, and still heavily analogue. Director of product management Wendy Olson Killion noted in an interview:“

For hotel franchises, for example, there are different budgets: there are national budgets, local budgets, regional budgets. You’ll see regional travel groups, maybe a certain set of hotels, or brands of hotels in a location.”

Similarly, the destination marketing organization (DMO) side is practically a cottage industry of boutique advertising agencies, small publishers (such as travel magazines), and tourism officials. In short, travel marketing at the ad-unit level is not an obvious hunting grounds for an enterprise-scale company like Expedia.

Expedia Media Solutions has had to fight an island-by-island campaign to gain market share. It has made gains recently by adding several high-profile clients, such as Tourism Australia last June. It has done work for the destination marketing organizations of Britain, Denmark, Dubai, and the Netherlands.

Despite the big clients, Expedia Media Solutions said it is “well equipped to help the individual small supplier.” Matthew Reichek, senior director of product and analytics, cited this hypothetical example:

“If I own a B&B in Worcester, Mass., let’s say, and you represent a big chain across town, you and I can compete on a level footing using our TravelAds product…. “I can have a thousand dollars to spend, you can have a hundred thousand dollars to spend, yet if I bid more than you for certain targeting parameters, I’m going to get the positioning I want for those targeted customers until I hit my budget and you won’t, provided all the other things are equal.”

Simplicity is another factor that the division touts. A client can also come speak to one sales person to target a broad spectrum of types of travelers worldwide.

Sharper targeting

Just because it works at an enterprise scale doesn’t mean that Expedia’s ad agency arm takes a one-size-fits-all approach, said division head and global senior vice-president Noah Tratt:

“We are pretty good about identifying the nuances in people’s goals and building campaigns that are customized. We use our research and analytics to inform your creative; how much content you need to invest in; the pitch, your approach. We can target based on a lot of activity that people do on Expedia and then we can layer on other kinds of targeting variables as well.”

“For example, clients can request ads be displayed to specific demographics in specific geographic locations who are using particular types of devices and exhibiting particular types of search behaviour.”

“If I’m marketing, say, Holland to a Brazilian or to an American or someone from the People’s Republic of China, we know from booking behaviour that visitors from those destinations are going to come for a lot longer, on average, than ones from, say, the United Kingdom and Germany.”

“We would tailor our campaign for a destination according to our research from booking data on each target nationality’s typical behaviour and interests.”

Shaking up destination marketing

Expedia Media Solutions thinks it has a few competitive advantages over its boutique ad agency rivals. It said that it excels at enabling a DMO to target customers across Expedia-branded sites that match its preferred customer profile. Other shift-share reporting services can tell any given tourism board what its competitive set looks like. But Expedia’s reports may be more comprehensive than its competitors’ are when analysing at the ad-unit-level behaviours like click-through rates and impressions.

An official in, say, Macau, could choose to specifically display ads to, say, Canadians in a city whose travel buyers have recently shown a disproportionate interest in searching and buying flights to Macau and its competitors.

Reichek added:

“Targeting may sound kind of antiseptic, but if you talk about intention-based advertising, that’s what we’re doing, because, when users come to our site, they conduct certain activities that are expressing intention, where they want to go and what they’re interested doing, and you can divine a lot of meaning from that.”

Source: Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

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Mount your headsets and get ready. Virtual reality (VR) is fast-tracking its way to possibly reinventing the way travel is marketed and sold.

The highly engaging, interactive VR environments that are already taking the tech and gaming industries by storm offer the travel industry an entirely new platform for selling travel as the technology is rapidly becoming more accessible to the masses.

“The travel industry is going to be one of the industries that will be most impacted by the onset of virtual reality,” said Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit, which helps create and distribute VR video content for various companies, including numerous travel suppliers such as Carnival Cruise Line and destination marketing organizations.

“How do you give somebody a sense of what it’s really like to be somewhere without principally being there?” Mandelbaum said. “Why do people go on TripAdvisor? Because they want to get a better feel for the place. We see [VR] as a very natural evolution that has taken place [in travel marketing], from text to photos to videos to virtual tours to virtual reality. The main thing that makes the virtual experiences unique is that they’re interactive. That interactivity leads to immersion, and that immersion leads to conversion.

“YouVisit was among the growing number of VR vendors showcasing their products at the Consumer Electronics Show #CES# in Las Vegas earlier this month, where VR content creators and hardware manufacturers were inundated with attendees hoping to experience the latest in VR technologies.

From the much-buzzed-about, Facebook-owned Oculus to the impressive upstart HTC Vive, from companies selling live-event VR capabilities to outfits hawking the 360-degree cameras and contraptions necessary to create VR video content, the VR arena was where the action was at CES. And according to industry insiders, tuned-in travel companies should be just as amped about the exploding technology.

Sean Whitmore, a senior analyst for San Francisco-based VR intelligence gathering and consulting firm Greenlight VR, said, “We’re seeing strong interest by Generation Z [people currently ages 10 to 17], who are likely to be early adopters of virtual reality-enabled headsets for travel-based experiences. However, as we’ve seen in the data for our upcoming 2016 Virtual Reality Consumer Report, Baby Boomers [people ages 51 and up] are also very interested in the concept of experiencing travel destinations through virtual reality, with 38% saying they are likely to try it.”

According to Whitmore, travel companies would be smart to start experimenting with different kinds of VR marketing efforts in order to see what works best for them and to begin to get a better sense of the level of investment required and what the potential returns will be on that investment.

“It’s important to recognize that the industry is in the early days of VR as a medium for brand advertising, and as such, measurability remains a challenge,” Whitmore said. “Despite the challenge of measurability, some marketers are achieving impressive organic reach and millions of earned media impressions, while consumers are reacting very positively.”

Source: Virtual reality check: Travel Weekly

Shazam can be a neat marketing tool, but travel brands aren’t listening: by Kevin May, Tnooz

Many travel companies claim to be “joined-up” with their marketing efforts these days – but still they appear to forget there is more to it than showing a fancy ad.

A case in point is the latest run of Christmas-New Year TV and online ads from some of the UK’s most high profile travel brands.Tour operators have traditionally seen the December break as the ideal time to showcase their latest marketing campaign, often with a slick new ad to be shown during key commercial breaks in the Christmas TV schedule.

Nowadays, such campaigns have taken on considerably more importance as they are also created for the web market.

True to form, UK rival tour operators Thomas Cook and First Choice unleashed their latest efforts in the days before Christmas, with slickly produced TV and online videos.

British Airways was another.

There are two common themes running on the clips.

The first is the importance of music.

The second is, despite that importance, two of the brands have missed out on connecting the audio in their ads to the biggest music recognition platform on the web.

In June last year, Shazam started a new initiative whereby brands could link their advertising campaigns to the platform so that users who “Shazamed” a piece of audio could obtain more information about a product or service.

Brands were encouraged to place the Shazam logo (a small but recognisable “S”) somewhere on the creative and then link the track on Shazam for details about the song and what the ad is promoting. Subtle, but potentially rather effective.BA and First Choice didn’t think about this.Marketers might shrug and claim it’s a wasted effort.

But perhaps not when they realise that, according to media and marketing publication The Drum, their campaigns were some of the most “Shazamed” songs of the Christmas period.

Still, hats off to Thomas Cook for thinking more laterally.Thomas Cook provided a small link on the YouTube version of the ad so users can download the song on SoundCloud, but although it didn’t use the “S” in the clip it did connect the dots back to Shazam so that the newly released song has “From Thomas Cook Advert” as its title.

Source: Shazam can be a neat marketing tool, but travel brands aren’t listening

Marketing Takes on the Digital World | By Alan E. Young

Digital marketing is a term that is used frequently, but has the time come to stop considering it an entity that is separate from overall marketing strategies?The reality is that all marketing today contains a massive digital component. Today’s strategies must be conceptualized with the digital nature of the modern consumer in mind, as opposed to being an add-on to another marketing plan. People of all ages are increasingly running their lives with digital devices, and there is a growing expectation for the experience to be customized to their personal interests and needs.

mobile marketingAt the same time, there are many organizations that continue to separate digital from other marketing avenues, with segregated teams that do not work together cohesively. While this made sense in the early days of digital, it simply isn’t the most effective approach anymore.

To achieve marketing maturity in an ever-evolving landscape, companies must build an adaptable business structure that allows their team to be unified in working toward a single goal. The need to create high quality messaging is key, and marketers must continue to develop engaging and insightful content regardless of the medium.Although traditional channels still exist, it’s important to create digital cultures rather than marketing silos in order to fully integrate skills throughout organizations as we move into the future. The array of marketing activities need to be interwoven to develop robust campaigns that achieve success across the board, allowing for traditional to influence digital, and vice versa.What can we expect to see in the coming year?

Content marketing has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, and it shows no sign of slowing down in the coming period. While it can be easy to get caught up in the complexities of SEO elements, it’s essential to remember that the key is delivering fresh and relevant content that resonates with your target audience.

A new marketing focus is shifting away from simply creating more content to providing the right content. Consumers now expect personalized and hyper-relevant information that is delivered to them instantly wherever they are engaging, whether that is on social, email or any other channel. The pressure to consistently provide a seamless and enticing experience will increase and marketers must meet this demand to achieve success.

Ad-blocking is also on the rise, which will have a big effect on the future of marketing. The model of delivering free content that is funded by display advertising, such as banners and pop-ups, is therefore becoming less effective. Taking advantage of cleaner platforms that showcase truly relevant content as part of a cohesive communications strategy will help marketers to avoid losing ground from the growing usage of ad-blocking software.

The Gold Mine of DataPredictive analytics is becoming increasingly useful to assist with the efficient allocation of marketing budgets. By utilizing the latest tools and techniques to make sense of the massive amount of data that is being generated with each impression and click, there is a tremendous opportunity to make the most out of every marketing dollar that is spent.

Most organizations are spending marketing dollars across many different channels. The ability to attribute value to each touchpoint in the path to purchase will allow marketers to accurately predict the budget allocation that will perform best. Additionally, predicting the probability of an audience to become a customer allows the focus to be on high value prospects.

Modern consumers expect a high level of personalization. By combining digital experiences with customer data, it becomes possible to predict the groups of users that are more or less likely to respond to different types of messages, offers and imagery. Today’s personalization tools allow marketers to deliver customized content that matches a consumer’s interests and expectations with a much higher degree of accuracy than has been possible in the past.B

eacon is the New MobileConsidering the growing prevalence of mobile shopping, beacon technology usage is expected to increase exponentially in the coming year. Location-based marketing offers attention-grabbing ways to engage with consumers by providing them with discounts and other information on their smartphone when they are in close proximity to a store.A 2015 study by Air Mile operator LoyaltyOne, in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association, indicates that 62% of Canadian consumers who were surveyed are using their smartphones to assist them while shopping, with this number increasing to 80% among millennials. Impressively, 45% of the respondents said that they have used a device in-store that has led them to make an immediate purchase. When asked what they find appealing about connecting with retailers through in-store beacons, 62% of respondents said that they like the idea of receiving rewards that are relevant to their location, while 56% appreciate receiving alerts that are related to their whereabouts.

Certainly, the meteoric rise of mobile marketing has prompted a growing number of smartphone users to opt-in to location-based deals. Although this requires consumers to expose their personal data and proximity to retailers, many believe that the incentive of exclusive, time-sensitive specials or rewards are worth the sacrifice of an element of privacy. At the same time, it’s important to find the most effective quantity of location-based services to send, as 23% of the survey respondents indicated that they have uninstalled or opted out of push notifications from a retailer’s app due to the frequency of messaging.

We are now living in an era where digital marketing can no longer be considered a stand-alone entity. The organizations that are most effective have removed marketing silos to create unified messaging concepts across all types of media and campaigns. In the coming year, the hyper-personalization of highly engaging and relevant content will be the primary key to ensure successful marketing initiatives in the digital world.

Source: Marketing Takes on the Digital World | By Alan E. Young

International tourist arrivals up 4% reach a record 1.2 billion in 2015

International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4% in 2015 to reach a total of 1,184 million in 2015, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Some 50 million more tourists (overnight visitors) travelled to international destinations around the world last year as compared to 2014. 

2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4% or more every year since the post-crisis year of 2010.

“International tourism reached new heights in 2015. The robust performance of the sector is contributing to economic growth and job creation in many parts of the world. It is thus critical for countries to promote policies that foster the continued growth of tourism, including travel facilitation, human resources development and sustainability” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

Demand was strong overall, though with mixed results across individual destinations due to unusually strong exchange rate fluctuations, the drop in oil prices and other commodities which increased disposable income in importing countries but weakened demand in exporters, as well as increased safety and security concerns.

“2015 results were influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and manmade crises in many parts of the world. As the current environment highlights in a particular manner the issues of safety and security, we should recall that tourism development greatly depends upon our collective capacity to promote safe, secure and seamless travel. In this respect, UNWTO urges governments to include tourism administrations in their national security planning, structures and procedures, not only to ensure that the sector’s exposure to threats is minimised but also to maximise the sector’s ability to support security and facilitation, as seamless and safe travel can and should go hand in hand”, added Mr Rifai.

Growth in advanced economy destinations (+5%) exceeded that of emerging economies (+4%), boosted by the solid results of Europe (+5%).

By region, Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific all recorded around 5% growth in 2015. Arrivals to the Middle East increased by 3% while in Africa, limited data available, points to an estimated 3% decrease, mostly due to weak results in North Africa, which accounts for over one third of arrivals in the region.

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Positive prospects for 2016

Results from the UNWTO Confidence Index remain largely positive for 2016, though at a slightly lower level as compared to  the previous two years. Based on the current trend and this outlook, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals to grow by 4% worldwide in 2016.

By region, growth is expected to be stronger in Asia and the Pacific (+4% to +5%) and the Americas (+4% to +5%), followed by Europe (+3.5% to +4.5%). The projections for Africa (+2% to 5%) and the Middle East (+2% to +5%) are positive, though with a larger degree of uncertainty and volatility.

2015 Regional Results

Europe (+5%) led growth in absolute and relative terms supported by a weaker euro vis-à-vis the US dollar and other main currencies. Arrivals reached 609 million, or 29 million more than in 2014. Central and Eastern Europe (+6%) rebounded from last year’s decrease in arrivals. Northern Europe (+6%), Southern Mediterranean Europe (+5%) and Western Europe (+4%) also recorded sound results, especially considering the many mature destinations they comprise.

Asia and the Pacific (+5%) recorded 13 million more international tourist arrivals last year to reach 277 million, with uneven results across destinations. Oceania (+7%) and South-East Asia (+5%) led growth, while South Asia and in North-East Asia recorded an increase of 4%.

International tourist arrivals in the Americas (+5%) grew 9 million to reach 191 million, consolidating the strong results of 2014. The appreciation of the US dollar stimulated outbound travel from the United States, benefiting the Caribbean and Central America, both recording 7% growth. Results in South America and North America (both at +4%) were close to the average.

International tourist arrivals in the Middle East grew by an estimated 3% to a total of 54 million, consolidating the recovery initiated in 2014.

Limited available data for Africa points to a 3% decrease in international arrivals, reaching a total of 53 million. In North Africa arrivals declined by 8% and in Sub-Saharan Africa by 1%, though the latter returned to positive growth in the second half of the year. (Results for both Africa and Middle East should be read with caution as it is based on limited available data)

China, the USA and the UK lead outbound travel growth in 2015

A few leading source markets have driven tourism expenditure in 2015 supported by a strong currency and economy.

Among the world’s top source markets, China, with double-digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004, continues to lead global outbound travel, benefitting Asian destinations such as Japan and Thailand, as well as the United States and various European destinations.

By contrast, expenditure from the previously very dynamic source markets of the Russian Federation and Brazil declined significantly, reflecting the economic constraints in both countries and the depreciation of the rouble and the real against virtually all other currencies.

As for the traditional advanced economy source markets, expenditure from the United States (+9%), the world’s second largest source market, and the United Kingdom (+6%) was boosted by a strong currency and rebounding economy. Spending from Germany, Italy and Australia grew at a slower rate (all at +2%), while demand from Canada and France was rather weak.

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TripAdvisor Reveals Top Travel Trends for 2016 According to Annual TripBarometer Study

Trip AdvisorOn 15th December TripAdvisor today announced the results of their TripBarometer study, the world’s largest accommodation and traveller survey, highlighting key travel trends for 2016.

Conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos, the TripBarometer study is the analysis of more than 44,000 survey responses from travellers and the hotel sector worldwide. The TripBarometer “2016 Travel Trends” report presents a snapshot of the travel landscape for 2016, revealing US domestic and global travel trends.

“This year’s TripBarometer shows that U.S. travellers continue to recognize the importance of treating themselves to travel,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer, TripAdvisor. “With one third of survey respondents planning to spend more this year, we expect to see even more travellers checking both domestic and international destinations off of their wish lists.”

U.S. Travel Trends of 2016

Seventy-eight percent of U.S. travellers plan to spend more or the same in 2016, which is the third largest annual travel budget among countries globally:

Top 10 Markets that Intend to Spend the Most in 2016

(average of all countries after conversion into USD)

1 Australia $ 10,900
2 Switzerland $ 10,100
3 United States $ 8,400
4 United Kingdom $ 8,300
5 New Zealand $ 8,000
6 Canada $ 6,500
7 Austria $ 6,400
8 Germany $ 6,300
9 France $ 6,000
10 Argentina $ 5,900

Top Reasons U.S. Travellers Will Spend More on Travel in 2016

  • Because they/their family deserves it (46%)
  • Going somewhere on their wish list (46%)
  • Going on more long trips (38%)
  • Longer length of trips (34%)

U.S. Baby Boomers plan to spend $10,600 on travel in 2016, twice as much as Millennials ($5,300). This is higher than the global averages – $8,700 and $2,900, respectively.

Ninety-six percent of U.S. travellers are planning a domestic trip in 2016 compared to the global average of 90 percent. Seventy-two percent are planning an international trip, which is slightly lower than the global average of 85 percent.Top Reasons U.S.

Respondents Choose Travel Destinations

  • Culture of the destination (50%)
  • Recommendations from family and friends (36%)
  • Events (34%)
  • Special offers/packages at hotel or accommodation (27%)

When selecting accommodations, cost is the key consideration for travellers in the U.S. – 94 percent of respondents named price as the most important factor when booking the accommodation for their last trip. Accommodation ratings (90%), TripAdvisor reviews (89%), proximity to attractions (86%) and dining options (79%) also ranked high on the list.

Germans, on the other hand, are more likely to find travel inspiration from their favourite documentary with 26 per cent revealing they have chosen to visit a destination simply after seeing it on screen.

Americans and New Zealanders are far more practical, however, choosing their final getaway locations in accordance with events they have to attend.

U.S. Traveller Quirks

The Top 5 Things U.S. Travellers Won’t Leave Home Without

  • Toiletries (77%)
  • Smartphone (74%)
  • Camera (57%)
  • Clothing for special occasions (56%)
  • Adaptor (51%)

U.S. travellers rank as the fourth most “germophobic” in the world, with 37 percent listing hand sanitizer as a travel essential, compared to 23 percent globally. They value their beauty rest as well – 13 percent bring their own pillow, higher than the global average of six percent.  37 per cent of British survey participants named their must-have travel essential as an e-book.

Meanwhile, Indonesian, Argentinian, Malaysian, Chinese and Mexican travellers are the top five nationalities most likely to pack an extra suitcase when they take a trip – likely, to ensure they have plenty of space to transport their shopping haul.

And though Indonesians may be most likely to be spotted sporting wearable technology, 12 per cent of Chinese travellers revealed they were also careful not to leave home without it.

But only two per cent of Italians would be caught trying out the tech trend.

Amenity Deal Breakers

Certain amenities will make or break a hotel’s chances of earning a booking. U.S. travellers expect more for less, and will book elsewhere if an accommodation does not offer:

  • Air-conditioning (70%)
  • In-room Wi-Fi (42%)
  • Parking (38%)
  • Safe deposit (25%)
  • Breakfast (24%)

A third of all Thai, Indonesian and Indian travellers say that they are planning to try an adventure holiday for the first time in 2016, while one in six Indian millennials refuse to book a hotel without gym facilities.

And the most frequent flyers? Ten per cent of all jet-setting Swiss travellers polled revealed that they were planning on taking more than 10 international trips in the next year, making them the most likely nationality to accrue some major frequent flyer points.

But don’t expect them to be using those miles to visit family members abroad.

New Zealanders are the most likely to fly across an ocean to visit family, with 30 per cent saying they’d choose a destination to spend time with their next of kin.

In contrast, Russian, Austrians and Thai are the least likely to do so. Only four per cent said they’d select a destination for this reason.

TripAdvisor summaries the report into 6 key travel trends:

Trend #1 – Seeking new experiences

In the coming year, travelers of all ages will seek out things they haven’t tried before, from cruises to solo travel and more.

  • Globally, 69% of travelers plan to try something new in 2016.
  • 1 in 5 global travelers said they would try a cruise for the first time next year.
  • 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2016; 15% will try adventure travel for the first time.

Trend #2 – Spending more because it’s “worth it”

Worldwide, travelers are open to spending more in 2016 than they have in the past—and not just because of rising costs.

  • 1 in 3 travelers (33%) are planning to spend more on travel in 2016 than they did the previous year.
  • Among those who plan to increase their travel budget, 49% said they will do so because “because I or my family deserve it.”
  • 31% said they would spend more on travel because “it’s important for my health and well-being.”

Trend #3 – Choosing destinations based on culture, special offers

Today’s travelers choose destinations for a number of reasons, including special offers from accommodations.

  • Globally, 47% of travelers say they have visited a destination because of the culture and people of the specific country.
  • 1 in 5 travelers (21%) have chosen a destination because a hotel had a special offer or package.
  • “TV tourism” is on the rise: 1 in 5 global travelers have visited a destination because they saw it on a TV show.

Trend #4 – Staying cool and connected

Among the amenities that travelers will look for when they book an accommodation in 2016, air conditioning and WiFi stand out.

  • Globally, 63% of travelers said air conditioning is a must-have when choosing a place to stay. That makes it more of a deal-breaker than breakfast (40%) or a swimming pool (26%).
  • 46% said free in-room WiFi is a must-have amenity—meaning that, if an accommodation did not provide it, they would look elsewhere.
  • 26% of travelers said that they require an accommodation that has super-fast WiFi; 11% are willing to pay extra for this service.

Trend #5 – Rising room rates (and optimism)

Many accommodations plan to raise their room rates next year, while the majority of hoteliers say they’re optimistic about profitability in 2016.

  • Nearly half of hoteliers globally plan to increase room rates in 2016 (47%).
  • Most accommodations are increasing rates to compensate for increased overhead costs (65%), although more than a third are increasing rates because of recently completed renovations (37%) or because of increased demand (35%).
  • 3 in 4 business owners are optimistic about profitability in 2016. The majority of those who are optimistic say it’s because of local events and conferences taking place in their markets next year (65%).
  • 91% of hoteliers see increasing direct bookings as key for the future of their business.

Trend #6 – Managing reputations online

Online presence remains important: In 2016, businesses will be keeping a close eye on what people are saying about them on the web.

  • 93% of hoteliers said that online traveler reviews are important for the future of their business.
  • Online reputation management is still the biggest area of investment for accommodation owners in 2016, with 59% investing more in this area than they did the previous year.

For additional information about the TripBarometer, please visit: tripadvisor to download the global report.

Source: TripAdvisor Reveals Top Travel Trends for 2016 According to Annual TripBarometer Study Nasdaq:TRIP

How the travel industry has adapted to content marketing | theEword

The travel and tourism industry has seen a complete digital revolution over the last ten years. Long gone are the days of flicking through mountains of travel brochures to book your summer trip. Most consumers are now online-savvy and are not afraid of hunting for a bargain, which has forced the market to up its digital game.

But it’s not all bad news: to help combat this fundamental change to the way the market operates, the travel industry has changed its focus from aspirational to inspirational, and its content marketing is leading this transformation.

But what does great travel content marketing do and how can your business achieve it? We’ve pulled together some great examples of inspirational digital campaigns to help you see how it can be successful.

Capitalise on your positive reviews

TripAdvisor is seen as a necessary evil by most travel companies: with no control over content on the site, they feel somewhat held at its mercy.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company took a different approach to their TripAdvisor presence and decided to use their five-star reviews to create original videos that relayed exactly what the visitors had written.

Why did it work?

The stunning videos brought to life the words on the screen, turning the reviewers into screenwriters and their written experiences into colours, images and movement. The videos featured on the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s TripAdvisor page allowed users to witness real-life experiences.

The fact that the reviews were from previous holidaymakers helped to build trust with their audience, both on site and on TripAdvisor itself.

Face your challenges head-on

Norway has one problem when it comes to summer holidays: rain – and lots of it.

Instead of masking the inclement weather, Norwegian airline Widerøe decided to embrace it in a fantastic content marketing campaign – “a summer without rain.

The airline challenged two travel bloggers to explore the country for 20 days without experiencing a single drop of rain. The boys blogged their experiences and uploaded all their activity to the Widerøe social channels.This allowed their audience a real-time view of where the boys were and an up-to-the-minute update of the dreaded weather. These channels also gave followers the chance to directly communicate with the boys and even help them with their challenge.

Why did it work?

Most travel companies attempt to gloss over the less glamorous parts of their holiday experience. Widerøe, on the other hand, decided to go against this rule and tackle their major challenge head-on. The result was a tongue-in-cheek adventure that poked fun at Norway’s flaws whilst simultaneously highlighting the most beautiful parts of the country and all it has to offer – all in brilliant sunshine.

Tap into your audience’s emotions

Matt Harding has become ‘internet famous’ for his wonderful videos in which he dances badly all over the world. The simple five-minute YouTube clips show Matt dance in front of famous monuments, in towns and villages with locals, and even underwater.

The United States Tour Operators Association asked Matt to challenge them, stating they could send him anywhere. The result is one of Matt’s classic videos, but each one highlights different tour operators they work with.

Why did it work?

The last couple of years have seen an increase of travel alerts, deterring people from travelling to exotic destinations and causing damage to the travel industry. USTOA used this video to help the audience tap into the human element of travelling the world and experiencing different cultures without fear.

Matt says his experiences have taught him that “the world is a lot safer and friendlier than it seems on TV”. This short social-friendly video has gained over 500,000 views on YouTube, and has made it into Matt’s top video list on his own YouTube channel.

Understanding your audience’s motivations:  Whether it’s a British break, a two-week holiday, or a backpacking across a different continent, holidays let us break away from our everyday lives and allow ourselves to relax.

Great travel content marketing needs to appeal to that feeling of freedom we experience when we go on holiday – it should tap into our emotions and feed our sense of adventure.

Source: How the travel industry has adapted to content marketing | theEword

www.flyvia.com : get there for less

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The Travel Marketing Store has started a new project to assist destinations to more effectively market stopovers.  For leisure or even business travellers significant savings can be made by flying indirectly to a destination and if planned well can create an additional vacation or business opportunity.

flyvia.com brings together three leading affiliate marketing programmes with Dohop, the flight meta search engine, Booking.com and GetYourGuide for destination activities.

On one site and with partner links you can plan and book cost effective stop over trips.

Keep on moving – destination marketing in challenging times | The Drum

An excellent post in The Drum by Louise Hodges, head of communications, Europe and global co-ordinator at Travelzoo.  Here she reflects on the issues that destinations have recently felt due to terrorism and keeps the tone positive.

Why the global travel industry needs to keep on moving

In the past six months we have witnessed an unprecedented series of events, creating a significant challenge for the global travel industry.

For the UK, the start of peak summer was rocked by the tragic attack on British tourists holidaying in Tunisia and, as the summer holidays got into full swing, troubles continued with the migrant crisis causing chaos for holidaymakers trying to cross the Channel Tunnel.   Greece’s economic woes rumbled on – however, Greece remained relatively buoyant, with UK bookings to the country actually up year on year across the summer months.

Following the attack in Tunisia, companies Travelzoo works with reported a dent in bookings to nearby countries, and a survey we conducted in September revealed that the safety and security of a country is the second most important consideration – overtaking weather, but still behind price and affordability.S

adly, the troubles this year haven’t stopped and the downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 by terrorists has caused chaos for Sharm el Sheikh’s tourism region, which has serious work to do in order to win back the confidence of concerned British tourists. The Foreign Office’s ‘all but essential travel’ warning remains in place for Sharm’s airport, and some UK airlines are now extending their cancellation of flights until late December.

Millions of dollars of revenue from UK tourists is being lost and Egypt’s tourism bodies will have to think long and hard about what message to send out to consumers once the flight ban is lifted.  The ongoing attempt of Isis to create a culture of fear is relentless.

Friday 13 November brought tragedy to the streets and venues of Paris, a destination that is expected to generate almost $17bn in visitor spending in 2015.  Destinations are just like consumer products in that they rise or fall in popularity based on the public’s perception of the brand.   Unlike companies producing consumer products, however, tourism boards have a constant battle to own the ‘message’ about the destination.

Destinations also suffer far more from macro events that are often outside of their control – extreme weather situations, disease, geopolitical unrest, currency fluctuations and risk based on their proximity to other destinations grab media headlines and present a very different image to the one the destination’s marketeers are trying to build. Egypt has long been a favoured destination for tourists from the UK and other parts of Northern Europe for winter sun.

Alternatives include Morocco, the Canaries, the UAE, Turkey and Cyprus (although the latter two cool off in November). Following events in Tunisia, Travelzoo asked 2000 UK adults where they are now most likely to book a winter-sun break and the Canaries was the standout favourite, with further-afield destinations such as the USA and Caribbean rising in popularity. Morocco, Turkey and other North Africa and Middle East destinations fared less well.

However, the reality is the British tourist is resilient and also rather pragmatic when making a choice between plumping for a fantastic deal rather than staying home, scared to travel anywhere. That’s good news for both the travel industry and our ongoing fight against the will of terrorists to scare us into submission.  Looking at the reality – what people are actually buying and clicking on – we can see that our current deals Morocco and Turkey are in fact performing extremely well.

A £199-per-person five-star Marrakesh mini break was last week’s top deal in the Travelzoo Top 20 – generating far more interest than deals to European destinations such as the Algarve. Going back to two weeks ago, a week-long all-inclusive deal to Turkey was another top performer, and continues to sell well.

These destinations may need to put slightly better deals into the market at present than in easier times. However, recent events in Paris demonstrate that to stay closer to home with the notion that it is safer is to ignore the new reality that nowhere is safe, and therefore in some respects everywhere is equally safe.

Holidays keep us sane. They give us the energy to embrace our work, our lives and our futures with more hope and passion. Travel also broadens the mind and exposes us to other cultures and them to us, potentially leading to greater mutual understanding.

We must not allow recent events to create a generation of people too scared to set forth to new and exciting places armed with the knowledge that they will grow a little bit more from the experience.A well-known travel company’s slogan is ‘Travel Yourself Interesting’. Imagine how boring the world will become if we let those that try to scare us win.Louise Hodges is head of communications, Europe and global co-ordinator at Travelzoo

Source: Keep on moving – destination marketing in challenging times | The Drum

Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy

The first act of out-reaching to the crowd is 300-years-old (dates back to 1714), but the term ‘crowdsourcing’ was first coined in 2005 by two Wired Magazine editors Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson.

The whole idea of the internet is inherently based on the idea of crowdsourcing.  The internet is the place where the opinions of thousands are collected to help others in their decision-making.  And now social platforms have made it very simple to instantly reach out to many people and pick their brains.  The web is a silo of opinions, ideas and services curated by the mob.  People also tend to be more open in web-based projects.

Crowdsourcing has proven to be one of the most disruptive business models of the modern age.

In travel, the most notable examples are TripAdvisor and Airbnb, whose business models are built on user-generated resources.  The traditional travel sector has woken up to the value of crowdsourced marketing, too.  It’s not only the popular (and cost-effective) thing to do: it’s just plain good marketing.

Why? Because marketing at its core means bonding with your customer.

These three traditional British travel brands below use crowdsourcing to bring their products to market in new and exciting ways and drive innovation:

1) British Airways

In 2011, British Airways was the first British travel brand that turned to the public to co-create its aircraft menus, movies and livery.  Budding chefs, scriptwriters and artists were called upon to submit their ideas as part of the airline’s ‘Great Britons’ programme, initially launched in 2009 in anticipation of the Olympic Games.

These ideas were then taken forward and enhanced by category experts like renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, actor Richard E Grant and artist Tracey Emin.

The final outcome: a new on-board menu, in-flight movies and artwork for the exterior of the aircraft.

British Airways and Metro crowdsourced collaboration.

Following the success of this project, British Airways went on to pioneer the first ever live integrated crowd-sourced travel campaign in partnership with Metro in 2014.  This initiative gave consumers a unique opportunity to create and edit content using social media channels.  As part of this campaign English comedian Joe Wilkinson was tasked with a series of globe-trotting challenges.

Metro readers voted online for the places they would like to see him visit and the experiences they wanted him to have on his adventure.  The campaign featured a live feed of reader comments on Metro.co.uk, plus Wilkinson directly interacted with the audience using social channels.  This campaign strengthened customers’ relationships with the British Airways brand in an innovative way.

2) TUI Thomson

TUI Thomson’s “Name Our Plane” campaign saw the brand crowdsource a name for its first 787 aircraft on Twitter in 2012.

The success of this type of campaign has led Thomson to run a similar campaign this year, which focuses on both suggestions and user votes.  The selected winner’s name will be fitted on the new Dreamliner 787 and winner will be flown to a free long-haul destination on the brand new plane.

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Thomson crowdsourced the first wedding

TUI Thomson is also the first travel brand that crowdsourced a wedding decided by Facebook fans in 2015. The “Your Big Day” campaign invited people to vote for their favourite couple, the best wedding dress (which the bride then had to wear), the best hen or stag party idea and the best venue.  All expenses for the wedding and honeymoon were paid for by Thomson. The contest received 700 entrants and 10,000 votes.

3) Visit Britain

In 2014 VisitBritain worked with Genero to crowdsource a number of short films to feature on its international Sounds of GREAT Britain campaign.

Genero represents a global network of filmmakers, who were tasked with producing a number of short films reflecting the variety of sights, sounds and experiences on offer across Britain. T

he winning films were featured on VisitBritain’s Lovewall and were distributed across all global markets, with a bespoke end result for each language and region.

The films were created to give different perspectives of the locations and themes featured in VisitBritain’s ‘Sounds of GREAT Britain’ campaign.

The resulting multimedia content was original, sharable and a good example of evergreen content.Crowdsourcing allows brands to utilise the creative power of their greatest asset – their customers – in exciting new ways. The best projects drive interest, website traffic and all round good vibes to the brand in question.

Source: Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy