Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

 Just as travelers plan their trips to make the most of their stays, travel marketing experts need to plan their digital budgets and strategies to make the most of their spend. But with a new year come new choices, channels, and chances for online success.

To make the best digital decisions, travel marketers need to know the top trends, tech, and tactics that will matter to marketing in 2016. Rather than track down all of this data, your ticket to the latest travel insights is a fact-packed infographic created by MDG Advertising called Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Trends.

It pinpoints the five key strategies for making the most of your travel marketing budget and business over the next 12 months. To arrive at the right budget decisions, check out this informative infographic.

1. Spend on Your Website

Investing in your website is one of the wisest decisions you can make. With more and more people looking and booking on travel brand websites than third-party sites, your website delivers the first impression of your travel brand. And an optimized, user-friendly website can create a lasting impression and drive visitors to book without a second thought. The infographic shows:67% of travellers think it’s simpler to book on a travel brand website than a third-party site.

Almost two-thirds of travellers think it’s less expensive to book on a travel brand website.

Top Takeaway: To make the most of this mind-set, view your website as an important digital hub that gives online users everything they want and need.

2. Optimize MobileMobile has become a must in people’s lives, especially when researching and reserving travel. In 2016, even more travellers will be searching for travel online. According to the infographic, you can expect: 49% increase in mobile search for hotels and cruises. 47% rise in mobile search for car rentals and tours and attractions.

Top Takeaway: To serve this mobile market, make sure that all of your digital offerings, experiences, and communications are optimized for every mobile device.

3. Expect to Welcome More Millennials

Millennials already make up 40% of leisure travellers who book travel online. In 2016, their share of both the business and personal travel market will increase even more. To target these young adults, it’s essential to understand that Millennials have specific travel tendencies, such as:  They frequently book travel and share their experiences on mobile devices and digital platforms.

They tend to extend and blend business trips into personal vacations.

They spend more each day on trips than other age groups.

Top Takeaway: Use these Millennial insights to develop your digital properties and target your online messages.

4. Revisit Reviews

In 2016, online reviews and review sites will matter more than ever to travellers. According to the infographic:64% of travellers visit travel review sites like TripAdvisor for vacation ideas.

Almost half of travellers have been compelled to write a review after a travel experience.

Top Takeaway: Since these reviews are so important, travel brands need to regularly revisit and review all guest reviews to learn what they liked and lacked in their experiences.

5. Keep Your Eye on Video

Digital video is becoming more and more popular with travellers, especially on social networks. The infographic reveals these stunning statistics:

Top Takeaway: In 2016, video is a vital investment that must be incorporated with social media to reach and resonate with travellers.

 

Source: Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

Research reveals most-used search keywords for travel industry: bizreport

Analysis from digital marketing intelligence firm SimilarWeb has revealed the most popular search terms used by U.S. consumers searching for information to book their next vacation.

Between the months of January and November, 2015, the most popular online keyword search in the travel industry was ‘Expedia’. The term generated a whopping 32.7 million organic searches during the 11 months.

In fact, instead of generic travel terms, the names of leading airlines and online travel agents all featured in the top spots for organic online travel searches, accounting for 15.3% of all keyword searches. Behind ‘Expedia’ came ‘Kayak’, ‘American Airlines’, ‘TripAdvisor’, ‘South West’, ‘South West Airlines’, and ‘United Airlines’. In eighth place was ‘Airbnb’.

Non-branded, or generic, travel keywords played a much smaller role in generating website traffic for the travel industry.  ‘Flight tracker’ was the highest generic keyword accounting for 0.41% of all searches, followed by ‘hotels’ (0.31%), ‘flights’ (0.17%) and ‘restaurants near me’ (0.11%).

“In any industry, organic searches are a major barometer of brand recognition and trust,” says Pascal Cohen, SimilarWeb  Insights Manager. “In the travel industry this is particularly evident with many of the biggest online sites now front of mind whenever we book a trip.  In an industry where more than 40% of travel companies generate traffic from search, companies not getting searched for are unlikely to generate bookings. Understanding the right keywords driving traffic to sites can make a major impact on a company’s success in this competitive market.”

www.flyvia.com : get there for less

flyvialogojpeg

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.

Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

Smart technology is transforming the tourism industry with personalized services that suggest richer and more enjoyable experiences suited to a traveler’s individual preferences, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2015, in association with Euromonitor International released at World Travel Market London.

Using mobile technology and big data analytics, companies are now able to suggest interesting activities for travelers at their location, reveals the report, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at WTM London 2015.wtm png

For example, the TripAdvisor Apple Watch app can send a push notification at lunchtime with information about the highest-rated restaurant nearby. The next step will be tailoring the service to travelers’ personal tastes.  Google Now is aiming to proactively bring consumers information before they ask, based on their past behavior, with geo-localization keeping suggestions locally relevant. The key lies in providing “context-aware information in the moment that matters”, according to Google UK Sales Director, Bernd Fauser.

OTAs such as Booking.com and Expedia, are currently working on customers’ preferences to increase booking conversions, and they will move to personalized mobile services next.  World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “The opportunities that smart technology offers travel companies are endless and we have only scratched the surface.  It won’t be long before personalized suggestions – created from cross-checking consumers’ preferences and current location with online inventories of local travel services and activities – will become the norm.“

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “Companies now have the possibility to collect a wealth of information about consumers that was previously unavailable to them – usually referred to as big data – and this is leading to offers of more personalized experiences.“A gradual shift to one-to-one marketing in travel will be evident, with each consumer treated in a different way in terms of the overall marketing mix including pricing.”

Mobile travel sales reached US$96 billion in 2014, accounting for 12.5% of global on-line travel sales, according to Euromonitor International. They are forecast to record a strong compound annual growth of 22% over the period 2014-2019.

Download the report

Source: Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

This is a viewpoint from Sean Sewell, co-founder and EMEA business development director, Performance Horizon.

Digital travel sales are expected to surpass $481 billion worldwide this year according to eMarketer.

The set-up

We’ve already seen many interesting developments this year. Google moved beyond being a third-party traffic referer and entered the distribution space. This bold move, which allows consumers to book travel directly via its Hotel Finder, puts the search giant in direct competition with some of its biggest customers such as Hotels.com and Skyscanner.  Likewise, TripAdvisor has evolved beyond being just a travel content site and now allows consumers to read reviews and book all in one place.

Most consumers are unaware that they get this seamless experience thanks to something behind the scenes – application programming interfaces (APIs).

The solution

Specifically, it is booking APIs are changing where and how consumers book travel. Here’s how booking APIs are driving change and how all parties – such as travel brands, digital marketing partners,  publishers and consumers – benefit from an increased investment and integration of online and mobile booking APIs.  Also addressed are how travel brands and digital marketing partners are working to overcome booking API challenges.

Travel BrandsBooking APIs are not new – far from it – so why are travel brands waking up to the potential of using booking APIs to optimize conversions and maximize inventory distribution?  First and foremost. it is the rapidly shifting sands of how consumers browse and buy. Most travel brands will tell you the same thing: people research flights and hotels on their phones in the morning and book on desktops later in the day.

While mobile experiences are getting better, many brands have not fully developed a streamlined mobile booking process.  Mobile is where digital marketing partners – such as Google, TripAdvisor, metasearch and OTAs –  and booking APIs are a perfect match. These partners understand mobile, not necessarily a core competency of a travel brand whose primary focus is putting planes in the air and providing great accommodations for guests.  By making their booking APIs available to a  range of online and mobile partners, travel brands can increase market distribution and booking conversions beyond traditional partners, while stemming drop off rates by providing the most seamless customer experiences.

Digital Marketing Partners

The benefits of booking APIs work both ways. Publishers other than metas, are leveraging booking APIs to both provide their readers with better experiences and boost their own profitability as a digital marketing partner.

Today’s consumers move on quickly if they can’t easily find information or a complete a transaction. For publishers large and small, eyeballs and time on site are like physical currency. In order to reduce bounce rate, publishers must provide experiences that enable readers to complete actions from start to finish all without leaving their site.

Reader’s Digest opened up travel booking directly from its online properties. This makes sense, as publishers know their readers best. By working with travel brands who have vast amounts of data (past bookings, frequent fliers, first class vs. economy), publishers can drive conversions and increase their revenues by providing readers with the most relevant offers.

It’s not all straightforward however.  Publishers have many challenges when using booking APIs, especially around credit card transactions, security, and data ownership. Many times, brands will control everything in order to secure customer data.

Overcoming challenges

In addition to the security issue, booking APIs can come with challenges around formatting and the investment to do so.  This is one pain-point IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) hopes to address.  As booking APIs evolve and become easier to implement and use, more and more partners will work directly with brands, increasing distribution and potentially reducing the need for more traditional tracking methods via affiliate networks and pure tracking providers.  And the technology is there for brands and their digital marketing partner to connect directly and share/track data in real-time.

To summarize, I think the trend toward booking APIs that’s taken hold this year will set the stage for an exciting era in the travel vertical. Competition will increase as the lines continue to blur between meta-search engines and OTAs, and as Google aggressively expands its direct booking clients.In general, the smartest brands and digital marketing partners will leverage booking APIs to unlock continued growth and profitability.

Source: How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

expedia-logoInteresting analytical review of Expedia’s position in the marketplace by Eye for Travel…

“Has the OTA industry become a duopoly now that the US Justice Department has nodded through Expedia’s $1.3bn acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide? Certainly Wall Street has seen celebrations that only Expedia and Priceline among the monster groups are left standing. (Less research work to do!) The share prices of the two have been very upbeat since the head of the Justice Department’s Anti-Division, Bill Baer, announcement that “we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competitors and consumers”.

Source: Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

Booking.com Finally Joins Major Hotel Chains in Book on TripAdvisor – Skift

Trip Advisor

“A Skift take”

Booking.com’s participation in Book on TripAdvisor is a major win for TripAdvisor, which launched its Instant Booking product a couple of years ago and was slow to get hotels, and especially big online travel agencies to join. The U.S. Justice Department was correct, during the Expedia-Orbitz merger review, to see TripAdvisor Instant Booking as an emerging player to heighten competition.

By Dennis Schaal: Skift

Source & Read more: Booking.com Finally Joins Major Hotel Chains in Book on TripAdvisor – Skift

Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia – Travolution.co.uk

The prospect of massive online travel consolidation has been triggered after Expedia won approval from US competition authorities to take over rival Orbitz for $1.3 billion.

The US Justice Department said a six-month investigation had found no evidence that the merger would lessen options for consumers. It noted that Orbitz is a relatively small source of bookings for airlines, car rental companies and hotels. Hotwire and Hotels.com are owned by Expedia, which also purchased Travelocity in January for $280 million. That paved the way for the acquisition of Orbitz, which reported $10 billion in bookings last year for air fares and hotels. Orbitz Worldwide owns ebookers in the UK together with cheaptickets.com and hotelclub.com. Booking.com, OpenTable and Kayak are owned by Expedia’s rival Priceline.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association had argued that the merger would create a “duopoly” between Expedia and Priceline, which will now control 95% of the online travel-marketplace, a business that generates $152 billion a year, the Washington Post reported.

But Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department’s anti-trust division, said: “We know online travel booking is important to US consumers and to the airlines, car rental companies and hotels that serve those consumers.

Over the course of a six-month investigation, lawyers and economists from the antitrust division reviewed tens of thousands of business documents, analysed transactional data from the merging companies and from other industry players and interviewed over 60 industry participants of various types and sizes. “The antitrust division investigated the concerns that have been expressed about this transaction. We took those concerns seriously and factored into our analysis all of the information provided by third parties. At the end of this process, however, we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competition and consumers. “There are several reasons for this conclusion. First, we uncovered no evidence in our investigation that the merger is likely to result in new charges being imposed directly on consumers for using Expedia or Orbitz. So we focused our investigation on the commissions Expedia and Orbitz negotiate with airlines, car rental companies and hotels. “Second, we found that Orbitz is only a small source of bookings for most of these companies and thus has had no impact in recent years on the commissions Expedia charges. “Many independent hotel operators, for example, do not contract with Orbitz, and those hotels that do often obtain very few bookings from its site. In addition, beyond Expedia and Orbitz, travel service providers have alternative ways to attract customers and obtain bookings.

Source: Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia – Travolution.co.uk

As OTAs boost spending, hotels continue online booking fight: Travel Weekly

As OTAs boost spending, hotels continue online booking fight: Travel Weekly.

Expedia logoThe world’s two largest OTAs are boosting spending on marketing while hotel lobbyists are calling for federal regulators to stop the proposed merger of two of the most popular OTAs in the U.S., reflecting a heightened battle between suppliers and intermediaries for a greater share of travel spending.

Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group each ratcheted up second-quarter marketing costs. Expedia did so as it made preparations for its pending acquisition of smaller competitor Orbitz Worldwide, a deal that is still being reviewed by the Justice Department. Orbitz also recorded higher second-quarter costs.

The Expedia-Orbitz deal has drawn fire from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). Earlier this month, the trade group publicly opposed the $1.34 billion deal, first announced in February, citing factors such as a narrowing choice of booking channels, higher costs for smaller hotel chains and the higher probability of deceptive practices from “rogue” OTAs.

A combined Expedia-Orbitz would control almost three-quarters of the U.S. online market, while the AH&LA estimated that Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline combines account for more than 95% of the OTA market.

Meanwhile, some hoteliers are drawing their own fire for their efforts to secure more bookings through direct channels.

Marriott International earlier this month launched a marketing campaign promoting Marriott’s website as having the best rates on the hotelier’s rooms. Ads concluded with the tagline “It pays to book direct.”

While that effort was likely geared to pull prospective guests away from OTAs, ASTA last week termed the language “misleading” and called for the hotelier to discontinue the campaign “immediately.”

Suppliers and their channels continue to battle over their respective shares of the U.S. online hotel sector, where annual spending is predicted to jump 55% between 2012 and 2016, to $58.1 billion, according to a Phocuswright report released in November. OTAs have been gradually pulling some of that spending away from hoteliers’ websites. Last year, OTAs accounted for 48% of online hotel spending in the U.S., up from 46% in 2012.

Hoteliers fear that a combined Expedia and Orbitz will result in a further loss of booking dollars.

“We believe this transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties,” AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar wrote in an Aug. 6 statement.

Meanwhile, Priceline and Expedia continue to ramp up spending in their competition with each other, and those higher expenses were reflected in both companies’ second-quarter financial results.

Expedia’s second-quarter selling and marketing costs jumped 19% from a year earlier, while general and administrative expenses surged 38%. The company, which in May sold its 62.5% stake in China-based OTA eLong, also reported that gross bookings excluding eLong rose 20% to $15.1 billion, while room-night growth excluding eLong rose 35%.

Net income quadrupled from a year earlier, to $449.6 million, though that increase was largely the result of its $508.8 million gain on the eLong sales. Revenue increased 11%, to $1.66 billion.

Priceline’s online advertising spend rose 21%, while sales and marketing costs were up 26%, outpacing the company’s 7.4% revenue growth to $2.09 billion. Gross bookings advanced 11%, to $15 billion, with international bookings rising 30% while U.S. bookings remained flat.

Orbitz took a $4.25 million loss, compared with year-earlier net income of $6.88 million. Revenue fell 3.4%, to $239.6 million. The cost of revenue surged 34%, largely as a result of higher costs related to implementing systems to stem fraudulent transactions. Gross bookings fell 8%, to $3.09 billion, as standalone air and vacation-package revenue were both down 14%.

Financial analysts appeared to be unconcerned about Expedia’s higher spending, noting that it was appropriate for a company whose recent acquisitions included Travelocity and Australia-based Wotif.

In an Aug. 9 note to clients, Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley wrote, “We see a long runway for the company to continue to improve its operations across its legacy assets and acquired businesses, with better website conversion, increased hotel supply, deeper penetration of existing hotel partners and improved marketing optimization.” Walmsley maintained his “buy” rating on the stock.

And while Guggenheim Partners analyst Jake Fuller in an Aug. 6 note to clients classified Orbitz’s second-quarter performance as “weak,” he maintained that many of the challenges were short term and typical for a company on the verge of being acquired. He added that the recent performance of Travelocity could hint at a better future for Orbitz, as well.

“We note that Travelocity appears to be ramping revenue post acquisition as it benefits from a higher converting platform, access to more hotel inventory and better marketing support,” Fuller wrote. “A weak performance [by Orbitz] probably does not change the prospects for the deal.”