Ahead of StrategyEye’s Future of Travel event on Wednesday 2nd September, Stephen Tayor, vice president and managing director of travel ad platform Sojern, talks through the do’s and don’ts of targeting consumers in digital travel.
The Future of Travel, at The Escalator in East London, will feature keynote speeches from Expedia, Hostelworld and Sojern along with five-minute pitches from start-ups including Hostmaker, Tripster and Triptease. Click here for more information24.
What is Sojurn’s primary focus?
We place ourselves firmly in the middle of marketing, advertising and travel technology. We’re a business that specialises 100% in the travel sector. The digital environment for travel is huge. Making sense of it all and helping the big travel brands communicate with the right person at the right time, in the right way, is what we aim to do.
We collect and aggregate huge volumes of anonymous travel intent data by working with companies like airlines and meta search companies.
What is changing in the way consumers are doing their own research?
The power that has gone to consumers is incredible. There is such a proliferation of information available, which is the reason why we exist. Online travel agencies are appearing such as HotelTonight, TripAdviser and Airbnb. Where I book, how I book, when I book – if you’re a hotel, how on earth do they reach the right client? That’s the problem we try and help solve for the big travel brands. The proliferation just means it’s a very exciting time, and on the brand side of it, it all comes down to use of data. With our data you can see when people are booking their flight, this is when they are travelling, and using that data a brand can work out when the right time is to talk to them. The data is invaluable.
What’s the key to targeting the right customer?
It comes down to the quality of the data you use and how you deploy it. Generic retargeting to everybody, which goes on a lot, is the worst rule of data marketing. Trying to sell something to someone that they just chose not to buy is stupid, Bombarding people with ads is irritating. The key is better and better data. If someone hasn’t bought something there is a reason, so you need to use the next level of data.
For example, give them options – we know for example that a certain person was searching for Chicago as well as New York, so offer them that as a flight option. Retargeting can be incredibly powerful, but the vast majority is wasted. It’s not a trivial problem to solve.
What are the key trends you see emerging in digital travel in the different markets?
We are in the US and Europe and we are expanding because the majority of travel companies exist all over the world. We are being pulled by our European clients into the Middle East, so Dubai is incredibly important for us. Then there was a pull into Asia Pacific through Singapore – Singapore itself is a natural travel hub and gateway to the rest of Asia. Singapore and Dubai are investing huge amounts of their GDP into travel products.
There are big differences between markets. The US is a phenomenal business market for us, but the vast majority is domestic travel. London, however, is an international market. The data targeting therefore needs to be a lot more granular. Germany is a market where travel agents are still prominent and going strong. Asia Pacific, where we are still learning our way, it is a market that is changing the whole time, and everybody is adjusting there, there is a fast growing middle class, and many affluent customers to target. It used to be about Japan, but now China is driving growth. Each market has very distinct travel patterns and you need to suss them out.
Find out more and learn how to attend The Future of Travel here.