Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Bangkok, June 20, 2014
THE growing availability of large public and private information sources has led to the development of big data analytics, a potential trove of information that travel businesses can leverage to deliver more effective and tailored services to their customers.
In particular, Asia’s high rates of smartphone penetration, skyrocketing demand for ‘phablets’ mobile devices straddling smartphone and tablet and immense popularity of social media underscore the vast opportunities big data present, said speakers at PATAcademy-HCD, which takes place in Bangkok from June 17 to 20.
“The Internet of things” – a term that refers to the advanced connectivity of devices, systems and services – can enable travel brands to capitalise on the potential of “real-time marketing” to personalise the customer experience and predict their current and future needs, said Sonal Patel, business development director, exchange – APAC, Twitter Singapore.
Moreover, the emergence of wearable technology like Google Glass will further enhance the development of real-time marketing.
Citing his market research firm’s findings, Laurens van den Oever, global director for travel at GfK, illustrated how big data can be used to understand the booking seasonality and characteristics of destinations around the world.
For example, German and English travellers are early bookers while Italians and Russians tend to be late bookers when it comes to a summer vacation in Spain; within the region, Singaporeans are extremely late bookers, usually just four weeks in advance, he shared.
Applying booking seasonality trends to crisis communication, PATA COO, Mario Hardy, remarked: “If a crisis in a destination happens during high season, how you communicate to your markets is also different from when it happens during low season.”
While online is a part of nearly all travellers’ consumer journeys, van den Oever also pointed out that offline remains a major influencer. “Cross-channel usage is strong, so travel marketers should ensure a synergy of message across online and offline touch points,” he said. “For package tours, travel agencies and catalogues are still important touch points.”
Moreover, he also emphasised the complexity of travel purchase journeys, as consumers go through multiple pathways – ranging from generic search and aggregators to destinations and travel agencies – prior to making a booking so it is vital for travel marketers to consider the placement of their message. “Being present on all touch points is becoming mission critical,” he stressed.
It has been an absolute privilege today to take part as the moderator in the launch of a landmark study and event organised by Amadeus. Their new report on the Future of Travel in the GCC is undoubtedly one of the best ever and most important travel industry related reports conducted in the region.
Drawing on the expertise of industry leaders across 22 travel brands and insights from over 1,000 end travellers this report describes the key effects that will shape the future of travel for this exciting and important part of the world.
The headline “Big Effect” is that rapidly changing demographics will fuel a major shift in GCC travel over next 15 years. The coming-of-age of the GCC’s youthful population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next fifteen years, as digital natives instinctively turn to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.
Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, it will shake up traditional behaviours to become increasingly self-directed. As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic forces such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class, will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.
The report, written by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next fifteen years.
“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “The travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population stand to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners to shape the future of travel in this region.”
Further key findings include:
Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruise, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.
Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases -Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20 billion on tourism infrastructure and $140 billion on transport.
The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. The difficulty of obtaining a visa has been the main reason for 33% of travellers surveyed not taking trips as often as they would like. By improving accessibility within the region and abroad, the number of intra-regional travellers is expected to increase four-fold by 2030.
“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are many more subtle factors also at play. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.
The report was informed by a survey of some 1,000 travellers from the region as well as interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. It highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts a travel landscape will develop in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.
To download a free copy of the report “Shaping the future of Travel in the GCC: Big Travel Effects” please visit:
Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions
50% of Saudi Arabian and 35% of UAE travellers use smart phones to access online services
The Arabian Travel Market’s (ATM) Travel Technology Theatre which runs alongside the ATM exhibition from Monday 5 to Thursday 8 May 2014 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, will focus its attention on the effect mobile and internet penetration is having on the regional travel industry.
Sponsored by Sabre, the travel technology solutions provider, this year’s series will feature four sessions that will specifically examine the effect of mobile devices on regional online booking patterns and the action and future direction that marketing professionals need to take.
Commenting about a report on travel trade website Tbnooz.com, Mark Walsh Portfolio Director at Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of ATM, said:
“Of the regional travelers who generally plan their trips online, 48% had used a smart phone during the previous 12 months to carry out travel-related activities, a figure that rises to 69% if tablets are included. Indeed, 50% and 35% of Saudi and UAE travelers respectively access online services via their smart phones, presenting travel professionals with tremendous marketing opportunities, using mobile channels.”
However, the Middle East’s online, let alone its mobile travel market, is only scratching the surface. Given the region’s demographics, in particular a young growing population, and the fact according to Cisco, the number of mobile devices in the Middle East and Africa will rise exponentially from the current 133 million to 598 million devices by 2017, the trend is likely to accelerate in the years ahead.
One session, ‘The impact of mobile in travel’ which is being moderated by Nick Hall from the digital tourism think tank, will no doubt intensify the competition between regional and national tourism organisations, which will have to maintain a competitive edge when creating their digital marketing strategies. To that end an innovative “fish tank” interactive debate will engage global thought leaders to identify the opportunities and solutions that will help secure the future of tourism destinations.
An interesting seminar run by PhoCusWright Inc, entitled ‘Middle East travel online today, mobile tomorrow’, will look at several local and global brands already competing in the emerging online travel space, as well as highlighting that the mobile channel is almost virgin territory and travel companies need to create loyalty or risk being left behind such is the pace of change. Globally more than 40% of online traffic related to travel enquiries now come from mobile devices including tablets, says HeBS Digital, while tablets are preferred for booking future travel according to Mobiquity research.
‘How airlines and other travel companies have approached and are succeeding on mobile’ is a dedicated session presented by Kara Moddemann, industry manager, travel MENA at Google, for the airline and related travel agency sector. This will make delegates aware of how travelers use mobiles to research, book and share their travel experience, as well as how to reach them with relevant marketing messages. Typically 44% of travellers will use their smart phone to research travel while they are actually travelling, according to a JiWire travel report.
‘Mobile in today’s online experience’ is the final panel discussion that will examine how travel organisations can adapt to mobile marketing, such as ensuring websites are mobile optimised, as well as learning some tips of how to use social media platforms that are prominent in the mobile space. According to Atmosphere research Group, a shopper will visit 22 websites before booking a trip.
“The growing travel technology trend is also evident on the exhibition floor with a record 72 exhibitors participating this year, covering more than 2,000 square metres of floor space, a 22% increase over last year,” remarked Walsh.
In total the Sabre Travel Technology Theatre will cover 18 hi-tech sessions, with 34 industry experts voicing their opinion, through a series of presentations and panel discussions.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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.
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.”
by Laurie Sullivan, 14th April 2015, 2:35 PM
Phoenix Marketing International will release findings this week from an online travel audit analyzing consumer sentiment about the most popular travel industry ads on TV.
The study, “Online Travel Audit,” fielded in mid-March, analyzed 50 television ads from more than 30 travel search and reservation Web sites. It also looked at travel-related
advertisers, such as hotel and car rental, including American Airlines, Hotwire, Priceline, Trivago, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Southwest, United and Hilton. The study compiled more than 3,500 responses.
Josh Berger, research director at Phoenix Marketing International, gave MediaDailyNews a first look at results. He said researchers also tested ads from American Airlines, Southwest, Delta, and United, as well as travel destinations like Orlando and Texas. “Ads can succeed several ways, whether they engage through a relevant message or empathy,” he said. “A straightforward approach as to what makes Trivago different than other search travel sites seems to work for the site.”
Business and leisure travelers identified Trivago for its advertisement The Perfect Hotel as the overall top-performing message. More than 55% of leisure and 50% of business travelers said they would recommend the site to others. The newcomer’s message tells consumers the site can compare hotel prices from more than 100 Web sites, adjusting the price depending on the budget.
Berger said Google did not rank within the first five sites. Other sites like TripAdvisor and Hotwire maintain a category lead. “We really think that as the survey product gets built up over time, it will give us a better understanding of trends and the growth of Google, as well as sites like Trivago,” he said.
Overall, Hotwire took the No. 2 and No. 3 spot among leisure travelers, with its ad From New York to Texas ranking No. 1 with the highest recall at 81%, followed by its Florida to Seattle ad with 79%. Expedia and Priceline rounded out the top five overall spots for leisure travelers, respectively.
While many leisure travelers are more concerned with saving money, business travelers look for conveniences. Business travelers ranked Hotwire No. 2 and Hotels.com, No. 3, with Kayak and Expedia following in that order. Hotels.com, The Obvious Choice & Captain Obvious, had the highest recall among business travelers.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s 50 Million Tree Pledge took the most buzzworthy ad in the category, with 30% of travelers saying they would likely speak positively about the advertisement to others. The ad improves the consumer’s impression of the car rental company by tapping into charitable effort. After seeing the ad, 60% of people feel better overall about the company compared to a travel average of 36%.
2014-04-09 BY PHILLIP BUTLER
Will mobile technology negate travel service providers’ direct revenue streams? An insightful post by Skift’s Dennis Schaal points to the big OTAs and the coming leverage game of travel bookings via mobile.
Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, a plethora of booking channels now clutter the hospitality booking lobby, and these carry varying degrees of effectiveness and economy.
While Schaal’s report does allude to hoteliers suffering ever increasing pains at the hands of OTAs, there is another side to the story. Schaal quotes Macquarie Equities Research’s Tom White on the operational disruption TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Priceline can cause. Furthermore, it’s no big secrete TripAdvisor would like to rule the entire hospitality revenue roost. Schaal elaborates using the equity research expert’s intuition, accentuates by TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer’s proclamation over owning the “entire cycle.”
Certainly there’s ample concern on the hotelier end of things here. Clients of our own Pamil Visions travel PR, associates across the spectrum of travel marketing, and even some players in the app building arena have expressed virulently the pluses and minuses of this new “mobile travel ” game. What Shaal and the others mentioned have not shed light on is the flip side of such revenue disruptive technologies.
How the Hotel Will Always Be Right
Somehow the hospitality cart managed to get far out ahead of the hotelier horses, first via the WWW, and now (ostensibly) via the power of an ever growing mobile constituency. Let’s face it, prophesying huge corporate online travel agencies monopolizing guest bookings, that’s a bit like watching a man with a chainsaw standing in front of a redwood, and predicting he’s intent on chopping it down. Excuse the metaphors, but Expedia and the like have made a living providing far reaching reach, with a minimum of effort I might add, to tap into the coffers of every hotelier on the planet. However effective these businesses may be however, unless they plan on hiring bell hops and desk clerks, hotels are still their customers. And the customer is always right, right?
This article on BigHospitality speaks for the hotelier fed up with battling their own service providers (OTAs) over who owns the business of serving guests. In this piece the balance of equity is the needed shift in favor of the real guest services providers. Nial Kelly Vice President Acquisitions and Development at Starwood Hotels talks suggests leveraging OTAs by only working with those that are for balance. In essence, big and small hotel groups can put the proverbial “squeeze” on Expedia and others. This is what is about to happen if our information here is accurate. All the independent or major chain hotels need is the right catalyst, the right app developer, or an existent player willing to think outside the box.
The “Who” of Direct Mobile Bookings
A couple of months ago I was speaking with Stefan Weitz, head of Microsoft’s Bing about forward movement on Bing’s Travel App. Like other major corporations in the game, Microsoft and Bing came up with an imminently useful app for travelers here. Not unlike
our friend’s at Stay.com, Bing put a lot of quality in, features users get the most out of, and ultimately the ability find and reserve the best hotels in the world. Also like Stay.com, “depth” and a lack of appropriate marketing left conversions in a shortfall situation. You see there’s no lack of expertise in creating such tools (even for individual hotels), the cost of such development has been driven down dramatically. The real rub for hotels or corporations like Microsoft is “commitment” – to put it bluntly some companies have more money and resources than drive, when it comes to breaking out into mobile. It’s as if those that should most believe have become too conventional in their thinking.
Therein resides the biggest hurdle for Dennis Schaal’s omnipotent OTA rulers too. TripAdvisor and the rest are super slow on the uptake historically. In fact, in my view, TA and the rest have been lucky somebody like Microsoft has not already snapped up their market share. While Google was the heir apparent to digital travel mastery, today the original OTAs retain their places among marketing channels for hospitality. I am fairly amazed at this, to be honest. Looking at Bing’s app, like everything else at Microsoft it’s Microsoft-centric. These companies act as if they’re the only game in town, like gigantic ostriches. (Sorry Stefan, you know it’s true)
Finally, to give you a few “for instances” on how hotels can rescue themselves from lobby takeovers, here’s a list of apps that could be used to snatch a bigger share of the mobile pie. This says nothing for us working to create regional apps to help hoteliers ourselves :)
The rise of WeChat has been well-documented this past year, but many brands might wonder how a messaging app affects their business. In addition to letting users talk privately and in groups, WeChat bridges social media and travel with the way it allows users to use information and recommendation from their social networks to research and book trips, even pay for them, via WeChat. This article offers a closer look into other reasons why WeChat is important for the tourism industry and your business.
First is obvious: the numbers. The sheer amount of actual (last reported to be over 300 million active monthly users) and potential WeChat users (a steady, if not increasing rate of users registering), that this is something people are using, so if you want to attract this market, you need to be on WeChat. The rise of social media has shown us the desire people have to keep in touch with friends and family from all over.
Second, WeChat offers a lot of innovative services on its platform that are perfect for those in the tourism industry. Like Sina Weibo, in addition to facilitating researching and booking trips, WeChat provides a direct channel for tourism brands to update followers with the latest tourism news, promotions, events, and guides with official information: a new way for them to provide service for citizens and visitors. Unlike Sina Weibo, however, WeChat allows a degree of data mining to acquire more intelligence.
Other unique features include the “Look Around feature,” which uses a location-based service (LBS) to let users find other users or locations nearby (LBS is also a fast-growing sector in its own right in China) and the QR code, which lets people scan a code with their smartphone to do everything from entering contests and receiving coupons to connecting with brands on social media and buying products, which WeChat has revived.
Its success in China is probably due to the fact that China is the world’s largest smartphone market, and since many people are more accustomed to mobile Internet, using a phone to scan a code is far more convenient than going home and remembering to visit a specific website. Some netizens even use personal QR codes to identify themselves on social media. However, as with any sort of marketing campaign, QR codes don’t work unless the creative is good and people have an incentive to scan them.