Boston Consulting Group – Facebook Report – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

Facebook logoTravel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity

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.

BCG Logo“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.

via BCG – Press Release – Travel Companies Have Been Slow to Seize the Mobile Opportunity.

Content marketing key for travel businesses leveraging Google – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News

Travel Distribution Summit Asia 2014, Singapore, May 29,

2014 TRAVEL companies must begin to think of themselves as content publishers to survive Google’s landmark shift to a semantic search algorithm.

Speaking yesterday at the EyeforTravel Travel Distribution Summit Asia 2014, Bronwyn White, director of MyTravelResearch.com, said: “Search is the one constant tool that travellers use in every stage of the path to purchase. “Semantic search is an algorithm that uses true meaning, intent and context to identify and prioritise websites with relevant content to the user.”

Google

Google (Photo credit: warrantedarrest)

Google now does this by drawing on a user’s personal information including geographic location, previous search history and social media behaviour. “Because search results are now highly personalised, we’re no longer chasing the holy grail of page one on Google, but people who are potentially really interested in what we say and do,” White noted. “If your content is likeable and shareable, Google says: ‘Hey! You must be an expert on your topic, we’ll trust you.’ Search engines will increase your authority ranking and will more likely present your page when users are looking for a related topic,” she elaborated.

When asked how travel companies should respond, White told TTG Asia e-Daily: “You’ve got to get the basics right. So make sure your website is structured right, your Google accounts are linked, your social media profiles all have the same website address associated with your company, so there is consistency in your social signals. “From there, just keep creating interesting content. Be clear about who your customer is and who you’re going to be talking to, then gear your content towards that. Create little personas.”

Talking about things that are related would also provide context and take advantage of the “serendipity of search engines”, she added.Companies that do not have the funds to conduct large-scale research could also drill down to a fundamental principle of the industry – talking to the customer. Said White: “There’s no harm asking your customers as they come through the door what they want to talk about, what interests them. “It’s not expensive and the thing is – there are a lot of unemployed journalists out there looking for work. There are also content marketing agencies, but for smaller operations, practise doing it yourself.”

It’s also important to know where the market is, she emphasised. “Where do your customers hang out on social media? Are they on Facebook, Twitter?” “For time-poor travel industry people, work on one platform. Get it right! Do one and engage properly rather than spreading yourself thin because that’s going to increase the quality of your content,” she advised.

via Content marketing key for travel businesses leveraging Google – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News.

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WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Facebook money-grab will boost rise in “owned” online media in travel industry

Posted on 12 May 2014 

DislikeTravel industry marketers need to be aware of the alarming changes underway at Facebook as it limits organic distribution in favour of paid-for posts, cautions Bronwyn White (pictured below left), co-founder of MyTravelResearch, a market research and marketing firm specialising in the travel, tourism and aviation industries.

“Due to changes at Facebook less than 4% of your company’s fans are now likely to see your company’s news and updates on Facebook. The change in strategy means that Facebook is diminishing your organic reach in favour of paid advertising. It is therefore time for tourism promotion bodies to start building their own online assets — and not acting as tenants without rights on Facebook,” she said.

“What many in the travel industry did not understand was that we were effectively acting as a tenant on rented space not a freeholder. The landlord could come along at anytime and increase the rent or start charging you for amenities. And if you can’t afford the increase, you might have to move out, use less space or have fewer amenities.”

White said that at first, entry costs were low (or non-existent) for social media and impact was high. Facebook provided an easy and quick way to build a tourism brand and a following online. With tourism being a cash-poor sector, this social platform was a panacea. But with posts now reaching as few as 4% of a company’s Facebook fans it wad  time for tourism entities to diversify away from it. and build an online presence that tourism bodies own and fully control.

White gave four recommendations for destinations and tourism companies to achieve that:

Create an awesome, informative website or blog with  images, videos, and the right tone of voice. Make sure it breathes your brand, which means knowing what your brand is and stands for.

Create content that helps customers at every stage on the path to purchase, from providing a trigger to travel to somewhere they can share feedback everywhere

Make it easy for customers and potential customers to book on your website. According to Tourism Research Australia, less than half of tourism businesses can do instant confirmation bookings on their websites while 10% do not even take email requests via their websites.

Create your own database that you own and control where you can communicate with your list.

She said social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ still have a role to

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

play in promoting a company’s blogs and videos. However, it is not advisable to build your entire marketing strategy on a platform that can suddenly be beyond your financial reach. There are free or cheap alternatives to Facebook, such as Google+, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

“It is time to move out of your rented space, get your own place and focus on building your own online real estate portfolio. Once you have done that, add to it on a regular basis, renovate occasionally to freshen up and regularly promote your hard work.”

via WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Facebook money-grab will boost rise in “owned” online media in travel industry.

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MediaPost Publications Minnesota Launches Largest-Ever Tourism Campaign 04/25/2014

by Tanya Irwin, Apr 24, 2014, 3:53 PM

Minnesota will spend $14 million over the next year promoting the state’s tourism offerings, the largest travel marketing campaign in the state’s history and a 65% increase over last year.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The campaign, “Only in Minnesota,” will span 14 states and provinces and includes four TV spots, a revamped Web site, outdoor, digital ads and social media: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Consumers are invited to use the hashtag #OnlyinMN to document their favorite Minnesota moments.

Tourism

is a $12.5 billion-a-year industry in Minnesota. Research shows that travelers want to experience new and unique things when they travel, which is  why the campaign features Minnesota’s distinct outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and unique landmarks – differentiating Minnesota from other Midwest travel destinations, says John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism

“This new campaign is a movement that will highlight unique Minnesota attractions and engage consumers in conversation about Minnesota travel,” Edman says in a release. “This cutting-edge campaign allows our state to be more competitive, and grow tourism across Minnesota.”

In keeping with the “Only in Minnesota” theme, the campaign incorporates homegrown Minnesota talent, including local musicians, and writers. It was created by Minneapolis-based Colle+McVoy.

The new Web site, developed by BarkleyREI, is more mobile-friendly.

“Over the last several years, we have seen tremendous growth in visitor site traffic through mobile devices,” Edman says. “We need to meet travelers where they are, and that means being accessible on mobile devices and social media.”

Stone Arch Bridge - Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stone Arch Bridge – Minneapolis, Minnesota (Photo credit: Sam Antonio Photography)

With ad buys of more than $3.7 million over the next three months alone, this year’s effort is more than double in size and scope than last year’s travel marketing campaign. More than $11 million in additional funding provided over the current biennium by the Legislature has allowed Explore Minnesota Tourism to expand its overall marketing impact this year with enhanced reach across all four advertising seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter).

The additional funding has also expanded the reach of the Only in Minnesota campaign  into target markets in six new states and one new province across the region, including: Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Saskatchewan.

Explore Minnesota Tourism will also target new niche markets this year, increase international marketing, and develop additional marketing partnerships to enhance the impact of the state’s travel marketing campaign.

via MediaPost Publications Minnesota Launches Largest-Ever Tourism Campaign 04/25/2014.

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Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston’s lament that Facebook and Twitter can’t do what Google advertising can when it comes to driving travel transactions is not news to TripAdvisor, which complained of the same shortcomings five months ago.

At the time, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said using Facebook to promote its Cities I’ve Visited Ap leads to better monetization, but Facebook falls short in driving transactions in the way that Google Adwords does.

“We weren’t able to get the same traveler in shopping mode to come over to TripAdvisor in any scale that matched Google,” Kaufer said, referring to advertising on Facebook, when speaking at an investor conference in November 2013.

Unlike Huston, Kaufer didn’t address the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of advertising on Twitter at the time.

The independent statements of Kaufer and Huston are a blow to Facebook advertising as a travel-transaction-booster. Both TripAdvisor and the Priceline Group were previously rooting hard for Facebook advertising to succeed as both companies look for other ways to advertise in addition to Google’s platform.

TripAdvisor, in particular, has engaged in lots of disputes with Google when it felt Google was pilfering TripAdvisor reviews and artificially limiting traffic to TripAdvisor in favor of Google promoting its own travel products.

In addition, TripAdvisor was once considered Facebook’s best friend in travel because of TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited Facebook app, with Facebook even citing TripAdvisor’s promotions on Facebook in its IPO registration papers.

Read MoreBrand USA’s 47-to-1 Return on Investment Claim Attracts Doubts Even Among Supporters

Travel companies do have an alternative to Google, though, in one growing channel — travel metasearch through companies such as Kayak, Trivago, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor, among others.

You only have to look at the Priceline Group’s acquisition of Kayak for $1.8 billion, and Expedia’s acquisition of Germany’s Trivago for $564 million in cash and 875,200 shares to see how Priceline and Expedia were looking for an advertising hedge against Google’s dominance.

Many travel industry companies hoped that alternative would be Facebook, but so far Facebook hasn’t delivered in the view of some major players, at least.

Facebook declined to comment on the issue.

via Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift.

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Mountain Travel Symposium: Facebook as an ad platform | AspenTimes.com

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook’s Erik Hawkins talks about the growth in mobile technology and how Facebook is capitalizing on that. Evan Reece, center, CEO of Liftopia, and Dan Sherman, vice president of marketing for Ski.com, moderate the question-and-answer session at Sunday’s Mountain Travel Symposium forum.

BRECKENRIDGE — When Facebook’s United States Group Leader Erik Hawkins came to the Mountain Travel Symposium last year, Facebook was arguably just a social-media platform.

But something has happened since then, both with the company and with digital consumption as a whole, that is turning Facebook into a mega-marketing machine.

Hawkins told hundreds of Symposium attendees Sunday that Facebook saw a 90 percent increase in time spent on its mobile application last year — 90 percent in one year.

“The internet is shifting to mobile,” he said, adding that the travel industry is the No. 1 thing people engage in while on Facebook.

With 60 percent of Facebook’s total activity coming from mobile devices, there’s an opportunity to target advertising like never before.

“We all look at Facebook from two lenses — user and marketer,” Hawkins told Evan Reece, co-founder and CEO of Liftopia, during a question and answer session at the first day of the conference’s forum presentations.

“Our lens as a marketer, traditionally we see Facebook as a place where we make connections and we have an audience and we have to publish to it. What it’s become is really, really, highly efficient, highly targeted media platform. What I don’t think everyone has done yet is reconciled that it can be both things,” Hawkins said.

Data shows that Facebook is an undeniably effective advertising tool, especially for the travel industry, but Ski.com’s Vice President of Marketing Dan Sherman wanted to know just how much companies should spend on Facebook as a percentage of total digital spend.

“I think people should spend as much as is effective,” Hawkins said. “Are you spending and are you seeing results? Then you should probably keep spending.”

But at the local level, marketers and tourism industry professionals don’t always agree that digital advertising is always the best way to reach customers. At a discussion about visitor services Saturday, Aspen Chamber Resort Association President and CEO Debbie Braun said Facebook is great and so are sites like Yelp, where customers post reviews of their experiences.

“But the 60-year-old walking in (to the visitor’s center) has a visitor’s guide in his back pocket,” Braun said. “You can’t be a one-trip pony.”

That’s why so many mountain travel destinations like Aspen still invest and believe in bricks-and-mortar efforts like visitors centers. However, digital technology is a way to augment all of those other efforts, said Douglas Ralston, of the mobile marketing company mobiManage.

“Digital is part of it,” he said. “There’s nothing you can take away from that personal touch.”

Facebook is a key digital marketing tool, but it also has its challenges, Jackson Hole Chief Marketing Officer Adam Sutner said after the forum. Facebook’s ability to segment markets is “top notch,” but some of the strengths Hawkins mentioned are perceived as potential weaknesses by marketers as the platform evolves.

“What marketers worry about, I think, is that as Facebook continues to grow, its constituent brands’ content become increasingly diluted and much more difficult for us, the brands, to get our own content viewed,” Sutner said. “Facebook, of course, likes this as their business model includes growing their advertising business. So the old virtuous reasons for marketers to want to lean into Facebook, forming an engaged relationship with a passionate set of like-minded fans in and around your brand experience, is perversely diminishing. Seeing that scenario all the way through, Facebook would just become another media vehicle, subject to (cost-per-thousand) and other (return-on-investment) scrutiny.”

Facebook conducted research with British consultant company Sparkler last year that revealed some staggering numbers for travel professionals — numbers that prove its place within the digital advertising marketplace.

“Ninety-nine percent (of the Facebook users who engage in travel on the site, which is nearly half of all users) share something on Facebook when they get back from a vacation,” Hawkins said. “Thirty-two percent do it before they even get home from the airport. That sparks the next set of dreamers to think about a vacation.”

via Mountain Travel Symposium: Facebook as an ad platform | AspenTimes.com.

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BBC News – Facebook drones to offer low-cost net access

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, shows off th...

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO Facebook. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook has ambitious plans to connect the two-thirds of the world that has no net access, using drones, satellites and lasers.

The move was announced on the social media platform by founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It will put it in direct competition with Google, which is planning to deliver net access via balloons.

Both of the net giants want to extend their audiences, especially in the developing world.

Solar Drones: BBC photographDetails about Facebook’s plan were scant but it will include a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites. Invisible, infrared laser beams could also be used to boost the speed of the net connections.

Last year Facebook and other technology companies launched internet.org to help bring net access to the huge swathes of the globe that are still not connected.

The social network has already teamed up with telecoms operators in the Philippines and Paraguay to double the number of people using the internet in that region.

“We’re going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too,” Mr Zuckerberg said in his post.

To bring the project to fruition, Facebook has set up a Connectivity Lab that will include experts in aerospace and communication technology, from Nasa’s jet propulsion lab and its Ames research centre.

It has also hired a five-member team that worked at British firm Ascenta, whose founders developed the Zephyr, which holds the record for the longest-flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

Earlier this month there were rumours that the social network was interested in buying drone-maker Titan but there was no mention of this in the announcement.

Altruistic?

The plans form part of Facebook’s ambitions to extend its reach beyond its 1.2 billion audience, thinks Ovum analyst Mark Little.

“Zuckerberg is pushing this as an altruistic way of connecting more people in the world – the net as a basic human right – but by increasing the total of net connections it also increases Facebook’s members and the amount of sharing done, which in turn creates more space for advertising and drives its revenues in a massive way.”

Last year Google announced similar plans to develop solar-powered balloons to deliver net access to remote areas of the world.

Code-named Project Loon, 30 of the super-pressure balloons were launched in New Zealand in June.

“It is perhaps aptly named,” said Mr Little.

“It is going to have a lot of political hoops to jump through. Some governments won’t put up with having that fleet over their airspace.”

Mr Little thinks that for both Facebook and Google, the technology in their projects may prove to be “the easy bit” and that the real challenge will lie in persuading governments around the world that its alternative networks are viable.

via BBC News – Facebook drones to offer low-cost net access.

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2014 Top Social Media Trends for Travel Marketers | Adventure Travel News

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.

via 2014 Top Social Media Trends for Travel Marketers | Adventure Travel News.

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Facebook speaks: how engagement in travel is evolving – Tnooz

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...Lee McCabe has been the global head of travel at Facebook, the social network with 1.2 billion users, since October 2012. A veteran of Expedia, he knows the travel industry well.

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

via Facebook speaks: how engagement in travel is evolving – Tnooz.

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