You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline)  Steve Symington

With the advent of online travel sites, it’s never been easier to book a quick vacation, business trip, or even a spontaneous jaunt for almost anywhere in the world. Though the online travel industry is relatively young, it’s still growing quickly, with dozens of viable sites ready to make your trip happen.

The sites with the most loyal customers stand to grab the biggest share of this market as Internet usage increases around the world. But maintaining customer loyalty is even more challenging in markets like the United States, where online travel is becoming second nature as nearly 90% of the population is already online.

Thanks to online travel sites, resorts like this are just a click away.

This of course begs the question, which travel site are Americans the most loyal to?

Thanks to prominent advertising campaigns, several incorrect names might immediately come to mind. Take the various sites operated by Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), for example, which notably include priceline.com, KAYAK, booking.com, rentalcars.com, and — thanks to a $2.6 billion acquisition last year — even restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable. Since it was founded in 1997, Priceline has enjoyed the charisma of spokesman William Shatner talking up its negotiating skills, while KAYAK earns business by comparing the prices of “hundreds” of travel sites at once.

Collectively, these businesses helped Priceline Group achieve $50.3 billion in total gross bookings last year alone. And with a market capitalization higher than $61 billion as of this writing, it’s no surprise Priceline regularly calls itself the “world leader in online accommodation reservations.” But “world leader” or not, none of Priceline’s sites are tops in customer loyalty.

Or how about Hotwire? Specific financial details are scarce for the privately held site, but Hotwire earns customers by selling off unsold travel inventory at a huge discount, saving people planeloads of cash on all their travel needs from airfare to hotels, rental cars, and comprehensive travel packages.

Unfortunately, though, even Hotwire’s approach doesn’t translate to the most loyal users. It’s not Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), either — though we’re getting closer.

Travelocity’s roaming gnome, Credit: Travelocity

Love for the Roaming Gnome

According to the 19th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, American consumers are most loyal to a travel site acquired by Expedia less than two months ago: Travelocity.com. On January 23, 2015, Expedia paid $280 million in cash to buy Travelocity from travel-technology specialist Sabre (NASDAQ: SABR), which itself was a subsidiary of American Airlines until being spun off in 2000.

According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff, 2015 was Travelocity’s first year atop its category in loyalty. And this year’s results were driven by the brands’ abilities to “identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values.”  So why do Americans specifically love Travelocity so much?

A little focus goes a long way

First, keep in mind that Travelocity signed a strategic marketing agreement with Expedia in mid-2013. Per the terms of that deal, Expedia agreed to take the reins of the technology platform powering Travelocity’s U.S. and Canadian websites. In exchange, Expedia received performance-based marketing fees that varied based on the amount of travel booked through those Travelocity-branded sites.

Travelocity’s #IWannaGo campaign was wildly successful, Credit: Travelocity.

While this meant less revenue for Travelocity at the time, it also greatly improved the site’s profitability by drastically lowering operating costs. In its most recently reported quarter as part of Sabre, for instance, Travelocity’s adjusted revenue fell nearly 45% year over year, to $89 million, while adjusted EBITDA skyrocketed 116% to $16 million. Without the need to focus on maintaining its technology platform, Travelocity was free to redirect those resources toward promoting its brand — something it arguably did more effectively than any of its deep-pocketed rivals, anyway.

Take Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” mascot, for example, whose offbeat TV spots have been at the heart of its viral advertising efforts for more than a decade. But starting in 2013, Travelocity also began using the gnome to engage consumers on a personal level with a wildly successful social media campaign centered around the hashtag #IWannaGo.

By following the @roaminggnome handle on Twitter or Instagram, then using the hashtag to tell Travelocity where you wanted to go, you were automatically entered to win a chance to make your travel dreams come true. Then. last year, Travelocity built on that momentum by combining the hashtag with its new “Go & Smell the Roses” tag line.

According to Travelocity chief marketing officer Bradley Wilson: “‘Go & Smell the Roses’ is more than a tag line in an advertising campaign, it’s a rally cry. […] We are using our most powerful asset, the iconic Roaming Gnome, to inspire and instigate people to get off the couch, to go and smell the roses.”

If Brand Keys’ latest Loyalty Index is any indication, Travelocity’s efforts to connect to customers on an emotional level are obviously proving effective in its core American market. If it can translate that good work under Expedia’s wing to inspire people around the world, something tells me Expedia’s $280 million purchase price will look brilliant in the end.

via You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse

Engagement Labs, the technology and data company, has recently released the social media rankings of the top performing hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites.

The rankings are based on Engagement Labs’ eValue scores, which take into account three factors: Engagement, Impact and Responsiveness.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices

The top three hospitality companies on Twitter are (in order) Hyatt Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Trump Hotel Collection. Hyatt was highlighted for using highly visual vacation-related content and the use of creative hashtags.

The top three Facebook marketers in the hotel industry are The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. Ritz-Carlton stood out based on its regular engagement with travelers and its posting of images and facts of its resorts.

“As social media is increasingly becoming an all-purpose communication tool, the hotel industry excels by providing real-time information to their customers on their social media channels,” said Bryan Segal, chief executive officer of Engagement Labs, via a release. “Companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Hyatt Hotels utilize their social media channels to provide up-to-date resort news and industry information as a one stop shop for their audiences.”

American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines led carriers in Twitter marketing. American Airlines also was No. 1 in Facebook marketing, followed by Island Air and Delta Air Lines.

On Twitter, American Airlines was adept at responding to consumer postings and weaving in topical news and events to drive interest, according to Engagement Labs.

On Facebook, American Airlines received a high eValue score for updating travelers on company information and relating major news and events back to the airline industry (to celebrate Women’s History Month, the major carrier asked Facebook followers to share stories about female American Airlines members who exemplified premier customer service).

In terms of the travel aggregators (OTAs and metasearch sites), Hotels.com, OneTravel and CheapOair were the top Twitter marketers (parent company Fareportal owns both OneTravel and CheapOair). Hotels.com was highlighted for using Twitter to dish out the latest deals and promotions, as well as posting travel tips and trivia to boost engagement.

BookIt.com, Orbitz Worldwide and Travelocity were the top three Facebook marketers. BookIt.com scored highly in large part because the site posted articles that included travel ideas, tips for things to do in particular destinations, and contests for their followers to win trips to different destinations.

Travelers on social media “want convenience, trusted brands and good deals,” Segal said. “Social media is a key resource to help consumers navigate the complexity of travel today. We see marketers optimizing social channels to enhance user experience, customer satisfaction and develop trust and loyalty with their audiences.”

Engagement Labs’ eValue Analytics leverages more than 300 conventional social media metrics to produce a single benchmarked score, analyzing more than 75,000 handpicked, verified brands that include marketers, advertisers, publishers and broadcasters around the world.

via Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse.

Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual – fvw

Leading travel e-retailers are using technology to speed up and individualise their offers, according to top executives at a recent fvw event.

Expedia-Europa-Chef Andreas Nau

Online travel giant Expedia cannot afford to carefully plan a medium-term strategy, Andreas Nau, head of Expedia Europe, told the fvw Online Marketing Day in Frankfurt. “We have to be fast, test and be allowed to make mistakes,” he declared.

For example, Expedia is currently testing a new form of hotel evaluation in 60,000 properties via a new app. “Customers can quickly give their views on the reception, service and overall impressions via smileys,” he explained to some 270 participants. Hoteliers “are already addicted to it” and respond quickly, he said.

Outlining some new products, Nau said that Expedia has developed a tool enabling hoteliers to change their prices via a mobile device, and is working on a method of presenting room prices like on a stock exchange.

Tom Breckwoldt, TripAdvisor’s Germany chief

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is rapidly embarking on a new ‘customer journey’ and adapting itself to changing user habits, and the rapid advance of mobile devices, above all. “More than 50% of all content is consumed by mobile today,” said Tom Breckwoldt, Germany chief of the evaluation portal.

TripAdvisor no longer just wants to display hotel rankings ahead of a trip but also offer additional services at the destination, such as restaurant visits or excursions. The company has already bought content providers such as restaurant finder La Fourchette and activity finder Viator. Such activities will then be bookable on the company’s mobile portal.

Breckwoldt stressed: “Our core business remains the rankings, the evaluation of hotels and other services.” But he also predicted rapid growth of destination-based mobile bookings due to the spread of mobile devices and free wi-fi.

Facebook is also a good source of information for online tourism marketing, especially because companies can form clusters of users to target, Benjamin Schroeter, managing director of Facelift Brand Building Technologies, told the event. Tour operators, for example, could target specific groups for last-minute sales, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, this year’s fvw Online Marketing Award was won by the Hamburg tourist board for their mobile app, which acts as a city guide with detailed additional information as well as user evaluation options. The app has been downloaded more than 65,000 times since its launch in mid-2014.

via Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual.

Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire

marriott(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nobox, a leading social marketing agency, is the creative force behind the innovative marketing program between Marriott Hotels, Marriott International’s flagship brand, and GoPro. “Our creative goal is to engage Marriott’s guests and empower them to share richer, more immersive content,” said Jayson Fittipaldi, Chief Creative Officer of Nobox. “Ultimately, the surprise and delight that guests who participate experience and the amazing content that they are sharing with the world continues to elevate the Marriott Hotels brand among Millennial travelers. The alchemy of putting GoPro’s in the hands of eager guests have resulted in social marketing gold for Marriott.”

“Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.”

This match made in “marketing heaven”, invites Marriott Hotels guests to take GoPro HERO4 cameras for a “test-drive” and capture their travel experiences in a richer, more immersive way. Guests are encouraged to share on social media using the hashtags #GoPro, #TravelBrilliantly, and #ViajeGenial for a chance to be featured on http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro, Marriott’s social media profiles, and even on a dedicated TV channel in the in-room entertainment system of participating hotels. To celebrate the launch of the program, the most inspiring content submitted by guests will be selected to win prizes such as vacation stays, Marriott Rewards points and GoPro cameras.

“Travelers tend to be more active in social media during and after their trips because it elevates their profile. That said, smartphones will not capture our most adventurous travel experiences like parasailing, diving, etc. Combining Marriott and GoPro creates a perfect setting for Human-to-Human marketing; transforming happy customers into a brand ambassador,” said Carlos Garcia, CEO of Nobox.

“This program is a perfect example of how Marriott continues to innovate and attract the next generation of travelers,” said Craig S. Smith, President of the Caribbean and Latin America at Marriott International. “Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.” The execution of this program spans across many touch-points beyond digital and social. Most notably, the program is embedded in the hotel experience and has dedicated Marriott associates at every participating hotel. Nobox even created a program management tool for Marriott associates to keep track of GoPro cameras and engage participating guests at the property level.

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/3IJd0OS6wE4

Visit the website: http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro

Marriott press release: http://news.marriott.com/2015/01/gopro-marriott.html

via Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire.

How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 12/29/2014

How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 by Jan Rezab, Media Post December 29

social-media21Social media has transformed the way customers speak with brands. Among its many benefits, social media has created a place for customers and clients to reach brands easily and quickly at any time of the day. With this great power in communication comes great responsibility for travel companies. That mass of people — which can turn into millions during a crisis — expects a response to each individual issue and question. But social isn’t, and shouldn’t be viewed as, a burden. It should be looked at as an almost-limitless end of possibilities.

Good companies continually show their customers they value them, and social media is a great place to do this. As customer care increasingly moves to public venues, it is blurring the lines between marketing, communications, and customer service. Digital marketers can use social to greatly improve the customer experience and build loyalty with fans like never before. Here are a few simple ways travel marketers need to be thinking about social customer care in 2015…

Actively Encourage Feedback

Social media gives you the ability to listen into a wide array of people — from your die-hard fans to your rarely vocal customers. In a way, it’s sort of like a giant focus group that you can access anytime.

Make it easy for your customers to talk to you. Most social customer care happens on Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, travel brands are making many mistakes when it comes to optimizing their profiles on these platforms to encourage conversation.

On Facebook, it’s imperative that travel brands open their walls in order for people to post on their timelines. This year, our data suggested that 30% of airlines globally still have closed walls on Facebook. A closed wall automatically makes it difficult for customers to voice their feedback and means a lot of missed opportunities for your brand.

On Twitter, we encourage travel brands to provide customer support from their main Twitter profile, instead of making a separate customer support profile. This allows consumers to easily direct their questions to the right place. Still, this can be difficult for many companies to do for a number of reasons, so if a company must create two handles, it’s important to list out the customer care profile on the main profile page. Turkish Airlines is a good example of a brand that does this by linking to their support handle, @TK_HelpDesk, on their main handle, @TurkishAirlines.

Be Prompt

For travelers, time is of the essence. Think of customers traveling by plane; a good chunk of their questions are going to be about their flight that’s coming up shortly. That means they’ll need quick help and a quick response from their airline should they post or tweet a question.

Unfortunately, not all companies are punctual in providing service on social. In fact, we found that the average brand takes 33 hours to respond to customer inquiries, if they respond at all. That’s a huge amount of time for customers who don’t have the luxury of waiting around for an answer.

Travel brands need to make sure they’re equipped to provide quick service. One easy way to prepare for this is to do an analysis of the type of questions your company is receiving on social media. Many times, companies will find that the bulk of questions are about the same recurring topics. Companies can then set up procedures on how to deal with these main topics, which makes responding to them easier.

For example, when we took a look at a sample of questions directed at U.S. airline brands, we found that one of the most-used keywords was “delayed.” This tells us that many inquiries were about flight delays, which means an airline company would probably benefit from having a quick procedure to deal with questions about delays.

Show Up and Respond

It’s important that your customers know you’re dependable. This means taking the first step to show up and respond. Leaving questions unacknowledged is a big problem for both customers and brands.

Some brands hold themselves accountable to a certain standard in customer care. For example, Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) provides an estimated wait time for responses on their Twitter profile. This gives customers a sense of when they can expect a response, and it holds KLM to their promise to provide that response as soon as they can.

In Q3 2014, we found that 10% of brands received 65% of all questions asked of brands on Facebook and Twitter. Customers start asking brands more questions and interacting with them more when they know that those brands will respond. The more companies respond, they more interaction and dialogue they’ll spark with their fans.

As the holiday rush slows down, the first weeks of 2015 provide a great opportunity for travel brands to look at what worked and what didn’t over the hectic holiday season and start the new year off on the right foot. Coming into the new year, it’s time for travel marketers to really get serious about providing optimal customer care on social media. The more activity marketers encourage with their customers, the more dependable the brand becomes for them. And in the competitive landscape of the travel industry, those that show their customers they care and build brand loyalty will win out.

via How Travel Brands Can Excel At Social Customer Care In 2015 12/29/2014.

Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept

PRESS RELEASE 

Middle East’s Premier Travel Marketing Event to convene in Dubai on 24th September

Insights from over 30 leading travel marketing experts

Dubai Tourism, Expedia, Yahoo, SkyTech and IBEX Global added to the conference content

Travel Marketing leaders to gather in Dubai to discuss a diverse yet interrelated set of topics

 

Press Release: Dubai – 18th September 2014 

In just under a week the Middle East’s premier Travel Marketing event will take place in Dubai.

Some of the world’s leading travel brands and marketing services providers will gather for a day of knowledge sharing and business development.

 

Amadeus, a leading travel technology company, will present a report on Middle East booking trends, internet penetration, smart phone usage, booking and  payment patterns, booking channels and social media trends in the travel sector.

Illusions Online, a Dubai based travel business technology provider for the leisure sector, will talk to their new generation cloud based leisure packaging capability and their strategy to create a global online travel exchange.    

 

Other speakers come from leading brands such as Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Jumeirah and Emirates.

The programme also includes interviews with the Head of Strategy for dnata travel and the CEO of The Entertainer.  Technology companies such as SkyTECH Solutions and Comarch will share their views on Big Data and Customer Relationship Management in the travel sector.

In a key panel on destination marketing, Dubai Tourism will highlight the power of local advocacy.

Yahoo will present a case study on how they have assisted travel companies with their online exposure and IBEX Global will highlight their recent regional launch of their Customer Experience Management Technology.

Mohamed Al Rais, Deputy CEO of Al Rais Travel, will be joined by representatives from Expedia, destinia.com and e-Tourism Frontiers on a panel debate on the development of the online travel market.

Porton Group will reveal a revolutionary technology that can be used by the travel sector to screen travellers for potentially contagious diseases without significant disruption to the airline check-in process.

Duncan Alexander, Director at The Travel Marketing Store stated “We have been delighted by the response that we have received from the travel marketing community to the concept of our event. The content is truly exceptional and we look forward to what will be an enlightening day”.

Over 40 companies will be represented at this year’s event which will also hold “The Global Travel Marketing Awards” and “The Market Place for Travel Marketing Services” where buyers and suppliers meet to discuss new services.

via Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept.

Big data fuels rise of real-time travel marketing – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News

Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Bangkok, June 20, 2014 

pata logoTHE 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.

Google_Glass_V2_OOB_Experience_36695

 

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.

via Big data fuels rise of real-time travel marketing – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News.

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus.

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.

amadeus new logo on blueThe 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:

http://www.amadeus.com/blog/05/06/middle-east-report/

KSA & UAE travellers are top mobile online users in Middle East – Zawya

Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions

50% of Saudi Arabian and 35% of UAE travellers use smart phones to access online services

mark_2014_04_29The 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.

via KSA & UAE travellers are top mobile online users in Middle East – Zawya.

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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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