Consumers increasingly perceive brands as media companies, a perception that is both fueled by companies creating more engaging content and consumer expectation of more interactive and interesting advertising.
A recent report sheds some light for travel marketers looking to engage more deeply with video content – a medium ideally suited to the beauty and story of the travel experience.
The survey of 1,000 Americans, and 500 marketers, comes from content marketers LevelsBeyond, and points out that brands are leaving opportunities on the table, as many brands don’t believe that their customers even want to see videos from the brands.
There’s also a disconnect between what consumers want to watch and what brands provide. Surprisingly, consumers are especially eager to consume videos that are instructive and teach how to do a particular skill. This insight could be leveraged by travel marketers in spaces where active sports or other insider knowledge could be packaged as a “how to” for a specific destination, vacation or location.Comedy comes in a second, following by product videos, micro-documentaries and animations. Travel marketers should take note of the 33% of surveyed consumers that enjoy micro-documentaries – this result is a sign that this type of content could be a way to hook browsing travelers into a purchase mindset.
However, the surveyed marketers did not match what the surveyed consumers wanted to watch. Brands are focusing less on instructive videos and more videos from their own branded events. A slight focus switch from “event videos” to “micro-documentaries” could be a welcome move by consumers. Social sharing also becomes a very important component of successful online video, as consumers are much more likely to watch videos that were shared within a network. And when a video is trending, a solid 38% of respondents would be more inclined to watch that video.Despite this compelling evidence that successful social sharing drives ROI of video, brands are behind in understanding how this mechanic works.
Another piece of data from Videology shows an immense shift into what video advertisers are seeking for the investment. The jump in cross-screen analysis reveals that this has quickly become one of the most important metrics for video advertising.The videos are pegged to their ability to bring attention and traffic across screens, liberating some of the conversion pressure for one particular platform as its impact can be tracked across screens.Marketers are finally starting to see video as a key component of the cross-platform marketing mix; now brands must be more considered when it comes to matching consumer appetite for video.The full report can be downloaded here.
Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has released its second quarter results for the fiscal year 2014, beating analysts’ expectations which helped the stock to advance by 5% in the aftermath. In a segment on CNBC, Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia’s CEO has commented on the company’s strong second quarter results, saying travel market is expanding and “online” takes an ever increasing chunk of it.
The travel company has seen its gross bookings number rise to $13 billion in the second quarter and its revenue increase by 24% year-on-year. Room nights grew at a pace of 20%, hitting a record, and adjusted earnings per share jumped 60% year-on-year. Such positive results give the company an opportunity to spend more on marketing and investment, which in turn brings more customers and revenue, according to Khosrowshahi.
“Right now we are in a pretty good spot within a competitive marketplace. [...] We are seeing our marketing spending going up faster than revenue but these are big scale businesses when you’re talking about $13 billion of gross bookings in one quarter, so we are able to scale off of our fixed expenses. So I think it is a great situation when you can spend aggressively into marketing but still increase profits [...],” he added.
Last week, Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE’s competitor Priceline Group Inc NASDAQ:PCLN announced the acquisition of OpenTable Inc NASDAQ:OPEN for $2.6 billion in cash, in a deal that marked its expansion into the restaurant business. Asked if Expedia Inc NASDAQ:EXPE has similar plans, Dara Khosrowshahi said that such a move is not in the cards at the moment, as there are still plenty of opportunities in the travel market, which is a $1 trillion dollar-industry and growing. He has disclosed instead that the company plans to look for growth in Europe and Asia.
Tourism New Zealand‘s 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign has once again been recognised on the world stage, with its latest win the prestigious Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Grand Award, Marketing.
The annual PATA Gold Awards recognise tourism organisations that have made outstanding contributions to successfully promote the travel industry in Asia Pacific. This year, more than 180 entries from 66 organisations and individuals worldwide were received. The award will be formally presented to Tourism New Zealand on 19 September at the PATA Gold Awards Luncheon as part of the PATA Travel Mart in Cambodia.
The Marketing Award will be presented to Tourism New Zealand for its “100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand” campaign. Tourism New Zealand aims to leverage the huge media and consumer attention that The Hobbit Trilogy has and will continue to achieve, and convert that attention into travel to New Zealand – the country where the movies were made. The campaign, developed in partnership with The Hobbit moviemakers Warner Brothers and Weta Workshop, has been the primary marketing campaign for Tourism New Zealand in its key offshore markets. The Hobbit and associated marketing campaigns have been a significant contributor to visitor arrival growth to New Zealand over the last 18 months.
“As an international marketing body it is incredibly encouraging to receive acknowledgement of our campaign activity from fellow international tourism bodies and professionals – and we are extremely proud to receive this award“, says Kevin Bowler, Chief Executive Tourism New Zealand.
“Our 100% Middle-earth, 100% Pure New Zealand campaign continues to go from strength-to-strength, and it is fantastic to receive such significant acknowledgment as we gear up to launch our activity to leverage the third and last of The Hobbit movies – set to be released later this year.“
Holiday arrivals into New Zealand for the year-ending May 2014 were up 8.9 per cent on the previous year with key target market for the Middle-earth campaign, the United States showing 15.3 per cent growth in holiday arrivals.
We all want to acquire new customers and gain the loyalty of existing ones – but what is really the key to achieving this? Travel brands are increasingly focusing on the digital journey to support the customer objective, but this does not help anything if the offline customer journey is ignored. It’s not just all about online interactions; there is still a real value in doing business over the phone.
It makes sense to focus on online, especially as in 2013, 72% of all adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008. The constant evolution within social media have dragged businesses’ attention to social and digital platforms. However, when it comes to actual conversions, 65% of businesses consider phone calls to be their highest-quality lead source. This is where the human side of the customer journey comes into play and the point at which the voice can make or break the sale.
In 1996, when Microsoft was still ahead of the big technology trends, it launched a small brand called Expedia Travel Services. It hoped to persuade customers to book holidays online. It was not an immediate success. Few households had an internet connection then and, just as importantly, most people thought the idea of buying a holiday through the ether not to mention typing their credit-card details into a web browser plain foolish.
Few think the idea crazy now. Expedia, which Microsoft sold in 2001, has become the world’s biggest travel agent see chart. Last year, through brands such as Trivago, Hotels.com and Hotwire, as well as its eponymous operation, its gross bookings were $39.4 billion. The third-largest travel agent is also an online firm: Priceline, whose brands include Booking.com, made reservations worth $39.2 billion in 2013. Last year online travel agents OTAs had combined bookings of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm.
Indeed, when it comes to reserving flights, hotel rooms and rented cars for holidaymakers, the online-travel market looks quite mature in many rich countries. PhoCusWright, another research firm, reckons that online booking now accounts for 43% of total travel sales in America and 45% in Europe. Since much of the rest is accounted for by business trips handled by specialist corporate-travel agents such as Carlson Wagonlit, scope for the OTAs’ market to grow seems limited. That explains Priceline’s purchase, announced on June 13th, of OpenTable, a restaurant-reservation website, for $2.6 billion: it sees this as a way to earn commission on another chunk of tourists’ spending. There are some big markets where online bookings have yet to take off. Germans still typically arrange their holidays through traditional travel agents. Although the Chinese now spend more on travel in aggregate than any other country’s population, in 2012 they booked only 15% of their trips by value online, says PhoCusWright. It thinks this will rise to 24% by 2015, making the Chinese online-travel market worth around $30 billion. Much of the expansion will be driven by ambitious local firms. Ctrip, the biggest, makes most of its money from air tickets and package tours to Greater China. But as Chinese tourists become more intrepid—ranging farther afield and no longer shuffling around in big tour groups—online hotel bookings are becoming more important. Ctrip’s hotels division has grown at an average of 25% a year for the past five years, according to Trefis, a stockmarket-analysis firm, and had revenues of $366m in 2013. It will not be long before it eyes Western markets more keenly.
To stay ahead, the big OTAs are having to follow their customers as they switch from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets. By 2017 over 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, thinks Euromonitor. In part this will be the result of OTAs making their apps more appealing by, for example, adding location services that help travellers find the nearest rooms and restaurants. But it is also because the way people plan trips is changing. It generally takes a family more than three weeks to book a holiday, from deciding to travel to clicking the “pay now” button, in which time they may visit seven websites, says Faisal Galaria of Alvarez & Marsal, a consultant. In future, travellers are likely to become more impetuous, he says, and smartphones appeal to those making last-minute bookings.
For those still surfing for holidays on their PCs, other technological advances are on the horizon. Amadeus, which supplies the software behind many OTAs’ booking systems, is developing new ways to entice customers to the agents’ websites. One is to use browser-tracking technology to aim personalised ads at consumers, showing them the latest prices for trips in which they had previously shown an interest. Such targeted advertising has been common among non-travel retailers for some time. However, until now it has proved trickier for the travel business as it involves collating frequently changing data from many airlines and hotels.
Even with help from such marketing tricks, the smaller OTAs will find it increasingly hard to compete with the big two. Online travel is an industry in which size counts. The scale of Expedia and Priceline means they can sign up more hotels, and negotiate better prices, than their smaller rivals. This is a business that requires heavy spending on marketing, which hands another advantage to the big two. OTAs will spend more than $4 billion this year on digital advertising, according to eMarketer, also a research firm; and Priceline and Expedia will account for over half of this. Some smaller rivals may find profitable niches, but in general it will be hard for them to grow. Whenever they open a door, “there are already two 800lb gorillas fighting it out in the room,” says Mr Galaria.
Not only gorillas. The observant may also spot an elephant in the room. In 2010 Google bought ITA, a maker of flight-search software, and the next year it launched a flight-comparison website. The giant search company has also improved its hotel listings by including photographs and virtual tours, as well as price information. It has the clout to disrupt Expedia and Priceline if it so wishes. It has not done so yet. Google, many believe, would be loth to cannibalise such a large chunk of its main business: analysts think the big two will account for as much as 5% of its advertising revenue this year.
So besides Ctrip, perhaps the biggest threat to the big two OTAs is TripAdvisor, a popular travel-reviews site spun off by Expedia in 2011. This month it said travellers would be able to book hotels directly through its smartphone app. Weeks before Priceline’s deal with OpenTable, TripAdvisor announced it was buying La Fourchette, another online restaurant-booking service. The online-travel market is consolidating fast, but so far holidaymakers need not worry about a lack of options
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.
Fri, 25 Apr 2014 | By Russell Parsons
Cheapflights is increasing investment in brand building efforts as the travel search site looks to support international expansion plans.
Travel search site Cheapflights is increasing the size of its marketing team and its marketing budget.
The firm has created a director of brand marketing role to oversee brand building and strategy for the Momondo Group owned brand.
The director will manage an increased marketing budget that will see the launch of its biggest campaign later this year, which will run in the UK and in markets including the US, Canada and Australia.
Once hired, the recruit will also oversee brand-building efforts in new territories. New sites are planned for several English language speaking countries – details have not yet been announced but include Ireland where it does not have a site.
Momondo Group, which also owns the Momondo credited international marketing efforts when posting a 29.9 per cent increase in sales to £14.5m for the first quarter.
It also highlighted innovation efforts in mobile apps and optimised services. The company says 40 per cent of Cheapflights traffic comes from mobile devices, which is growing at a rate of 40 per cent annually.
The company wants Cheapflights to be the number one travel search brand in every territory it operates in.
In the UK, Cheapflights is facing increased competition from the likes of SkyScanner, which recently launched its biggest campaign and took on additional marketing resource to boost share, and Google ,which recently signed up Ryanair to make its flights available on the search giant’s Flights Search tool.
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
80 million overnights booked by foreign visitors in 2020 – this is the goal of the German National Tourism Board (DZT), which in 2013 saw figures close in on this target. At 71.9 million visitors, a new record was set. 75 per cent came from European countries, of whom the majority were Dutch, followed by the Swiss.
In his speech, Klaus Laepple, president of DZT, struck a political note: “Germany’s tourism industry can only flourish if Germany’s neighbours are economically stable.
If your heart beats for tourism then I urge you to vote in the European electioins.” Speaking on Wednesday at ITB Berlin, Petra Hedorfer, head of the board of DZT, noted that the UK, Russia and Switzerland had recorded the highest growth rates. Germany was also the favourite holiday of the Swiss. For the last four years Germany had been the second most popular destination, behind Spain and ahead of France.
Iris Gleicke (SPD), the Federal government’s newly appointed tourism commissioner, said she intended to focus on improving employees’ working conditions and their opportunities for vocational training. “They have to be able to go to a restaurant or on holiday themselves.“ Furthermore, with the digital revolution taking hold in tourism, she said she aimed to make sure small and medium-sized enterprises received their fair share of business.