What Pokémon GO means for marketing: CIM

pokemon_10_2211dd8d49adf154a386294fb279204b-nbcnews-ux-320-320The augmented reality game is one of the stories of the summer, but it’s more than a passing fad.What connects a recent spate of local news stories about suspicious-looking teens being apprehended by the police, a stampede in New York’s Central Park, churches reimagined as ‘gyms’, a dead body discovered in a river, and a spike in the trade of online accounts?

It’s Pokémon GO, of course – the location-based, augmented reality (AR) game taugust_wk_2_2016_pokemon_go_exchangehat re-boots the original 1990s Nintendo Game Boy brand for the mobile age. Launched in early July, and an instant hit worldwide, Pokémon GO has generated innumerable news stories, and opinions ranging from proclamations that it is the best game ever to scaremongering safety warnings. Pokémon GO could be decried as nothing more than a classic news story for medialand’s ‘silly season’. But its success could prove more insightful for marketers than other recent summer crazes, such as 2012’s Gangnam Style dance and viral videos, or even 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge (which has actually gone on to provide funds for some valuable scientific research). Before dismissing the game as a passing fad, consider the following:

AR becomes a reality

Until now, perhaps the biggest story about AR in the minds of the public has been one about an expensive failure – Google Glass. Useful applications of AR tech, such as Volkswagen’s app for car mechanics, have mostly remained under the public radar. Pokémon GO has changed this. Within a couple of weeks of release, 75 million people have downloaded the app worldwide, 20 million of whom are active users – and all without a big-budget ad campaign. The uptake has been unprecedented. In the short term it’s likely that imitators will stake their claim for a share of the new AR gaming market, but the cultural impact might be much greater: the use of AR – for example, in educational and lifestyle settings – might suddenly make sense to consumers, and that potential will drive further innovation and funding. Pokémon GO might come to be seen as AR’s tipping point.

Next-level freemium

Pokémon GO is free-to-play. Niantic, the developers, have literally given it away. OK, so this is hardly a novel strategy – Candy Crush Saga made a success of a freemium model in 2012 – but Pokémon is surely the most high-profile example of its kind to date. The value proposition of such a big hit is clear, but when it comes to monetization the game is again pushing boundaries. The freemium model, where users can download the game for free and then choose to make in-app purchases to fuel additional gameplay, will only drive so much revenue. Ads will bring more. Sponsored locations, however, where local businesses can pay to become real-world destinations for virtual-world gameplay, could also provide a huge opportunity. It’s a game-changer.

High street brands

Small businesses have already leapt at the chance to join in the fun, setting themselves up as ‘Pokéstops’ to attract the virtual monsters and in turn drive customer traffic in stores and restaurants. It’s cheap and perhaps effective in the short term, but after the ‘Pokébuzz’ volume drops, we might find that the high street has found in AR a way to reinvigorate itself. What is certain is that the big brands have already taken note. At the end of July, McDonald’s in Japan became the first brand to sign a sponsored location deal in which its restaurants will become PokéStop and Pokémon ‘gym’ sites. If the deal shows itself to have legs, similar brand tie-ups are likely to become a familiar part of the marketing mix in the coming years.

Tried, tested and fun

Of course, sceptics will say all this is just a fad – we’ll witness a Pokémon Christmas with Santa delivering all kinds of ancillary branded merchandise… and then consumers will move on to the next big thing. Perhaps. Meanwhile, everyone can argue whether this really does signal the often-predicted dissolving of the divide between real and virtual worlds, or that in getting players outdoors Pokémon has finally made gaming a healthy pastime. For marketers, however, there is a simple underlying truth about the game’s success that should not be forgotten. The principles of Pokémon GO have been tried and tested over centuries. It’s part treasure hunt, part I-Spy, part orienteering. What’s more, the ROI for users is undeniable. It’s free! It’s fun! And if you can make something free and fun, then you’re onto a winner.

Martin Bewick, Chartered Institute of Marketing

Online paid search and display ad marketing spend down in travel

A major analysis of the leading websites in the US has painted an interesting picture of some significant changes taking place in online travel.

Web audience metrics provider SimilarWeb examined five categories in the industry – airlines, cruise, accommodation, intermediaries and review/recommendations – to try and understand what is happening around areas such as digital marketing, traffic flows and device usage.

Before the individual sector results, here are some of the overarching findings from the study:

  • Mobile market share has grown year-on-year overall, although some sectors have seen a slight fall.
  • Decrease in spend on paid search, as well as display ads.
  • General fall in social media traffic to travel websites.

SW accomm 8

For each of the sectors under examination, SimilarWeb looked at the top 25 brands in each from an overall traffic perspective.

Accommodation

The top 25 websites account for just over half (54%) of all traffic in the sector, although their combined traffic has decreased by 18% between March 2015 and March 2016.

SW accomm 1

SW accomm 2

Airlines

SW accomm 3

Intermediaries

SW accomm 4

Cruise

SW accomm 5

Review/recommendation sites

SW accomm 6

SW accomm 7

Source: Online paid search and display ad marketing spend down in travel

WEGOGO connects travel hosts with Chinese travellers on WeChat

A Singapore and Shanghai-based travel startup has created a business platform on WeChat to enable global tours operators and travel hosts to connect with mobile-savvy Chinese consumers.

Founded in January last year, WEGOGO has launched its services to businesses in Gili Islands and Singapore so far. It is slated to launch in China by the third quarter. Described as a “social discovery AI (artificial intelligence) travel platform for sophisticated Chinese travellers,” WEGOGO focuses on the use of AI to match users with relevant travel hosts, marketing their services directly to them. It uses contextual cues (such as a user’s search history) to model their unique ‘digital imprint’. This information can then help to predict what type of ‘experience’ a traveller is likely looking for. By doing so, WEGOGO hopes to connect smaller tour operators with the booming Chinese outbound travel market (with 200 million outbound travellers predicted by 2020).

“We’re trying to build a platform for understanding the Chinese traveller… anyone (an operator, a guide) should be able to tap into this and make yourself more relevant,” said Wong Toon King (TK), chairman of WEGOGO. It is an attempt to “level the playing field” between smaller operators and bigger players, as strategic advisor Reene Ho-Phang highlighted the reality that many local hosts do not have “the muscle and technology to aim at a global market”.

WEGOGO is backed by a group of private investors led by Wong, who is the managing director of FarSight Capital, and has provided the startup with US$500,000 in angel funding.

WEGOGO Platform | Startup | WIT

WEGOGO will not solely rely on AI to identify what users want. To address the shift in Chinese traveller preferences from being ‘destination-centric’ to ‘experiential tourism’, it will create video content to engage consumers on an emotional level.

Richard Tan Boon Piew, co-founder and COO, emphasised the importance of using storytelling to encourage consumers to go out and discover these unique places.

“We need to go in and find the story to tell… different operators can express their love for that they do. We’re trying to find gems, we don’t need a laundry list of operators.”

WEGOGO also has a “Pathfinders Programme” where bloggers and influencers share their experiences on the platform.

Registration is straightforward and free for travel hosts. Then they are issued a QR code that directs consumers to their micro-site.

Travel hosts can also take charge of their own marketing and promotions on WEGOGO, communicate with prospective customers directly, and conduct all payments online via WePay.

Therefore, virtually every stage of travel (with the exception of ‘experiencing’) can occur within the realm of WeChat.

WEGOGO earns a service fee from providers, but the initial sign up is free. They also use sponsored content.

One critical consideration is how WEGOGO plans to provide quality assurance and a sense of security for its customers, especially as the number of businesses on the platform increases.

Ho-Phang suggests that it can largely be left up to the operators who sign on to WEGOGO, as they are able to share tips and important information with customers before they travel. “This is their area [of expertise]…so they can inform travellers what to look out for.”

Mak believes that the existence of a rating and review system can help customers make their choices. “We can also give some providers WEGOGO verification,” Tan added.

While there are over 630 million users on WeChat (and counting) in China, one potential stumbling block could be how aware international travel hosts are of the social networking app in the first place, as WeChat has struggled in its efforts to go global.

Wong remains optimistic that hosts will readily adopt WeChat once they understand the benefits of WEGOGO for their business.

Source: WEGOGO connects travel hosts with Chinese travellers on WeChat

Destination Marketing: Promoted Pins on Google Maps to Help Local Businesses | .TR

Google logo.jpegThe giant search engine, Google, will roll out a new advertising program, which will help to offer more local adverts to consumers using the popular GPS-based Google Maps app.

Under the new program, various adverts of relevant companies that are nearby a user will be provided at the bottom of the apps navigation interface on the users smartphone. Destination marketing businesses are likely to welcome the new feature. The new advertisement program is expected to bring consumers with ads which will include businesses such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, tour companies etc.

The tool is designed to provide local businesses with more exposure to potential customers by providing localized adverts to the consumers based on the location. However, it is also expected to have a huge positive impact on travel and tourism-related businesses, and destination marketing sector, given the fact that a huge portion of location queries using Google Maps are related to travel and tourism.

In addition to providing localized search based on the location of the users smartphone, Google also intends to personalize the adverts based on the users preferences and interests, which will have been acquired from past search requests using the service, as well as online behaviour of the user. This will be of a great benefit to travel related brands, as the personalized advertising will help to target potential customers who have a higher chance of paying for the service being offered.

Google has already started testing the advertising program on some of the Google Maps users. People wishing to advertise their businesses will be able to highlight their locations on Google Maps, which will then be shown to the users through what is being referred to as “promoted pins”. The pins will highlight the exact location of the business, and will also include other details such as company logos to help in easier identification of the brand. As such it is likely that destination marketing companies will make use of the tool extensively.

In addition to the localized ads using Google Maps, the search engine will also extend the reach of the Google Display Network Remarketing campaigns. This will offer businesses advertising on Google with a broader reach to a more valuable target market, which will help to increase the chances of lead conversion, thus increasing the revenues.

Source: Destination Marketing: Promoted Pins on Google Maps to Help Local Businesses | .TR

Free Whitepaper: Cross-Cultural Marketing in a Digital Age, Eye for Travel & SDL

SDLWith the right website, content and SEO strategy any travel brand can have a global presence that generates bookings.

However, this is easier said than done as each diverse marketplace requires attention to detail and consistent quality across the brand. History is littered with examples of embarrassing cultural mistakes and slogans that didn’t translate.

This white paper examines why content is important and how companies can get it right for every single target market.

Provided by localisation business SDL it does raise our awareness for the need to consider a localisation strategy for your travel business.

WHEREISWHERE LAUNCHES LIVE DEMO FOR TRAVEL MARKETERS

WhereIsWhereWhereIsWhere.com, a location-marketing tool for businesses in the tourism industry, has unveiled its demo microsite, allowing travel marketers to check out its content and features before it goes live to consumers mid-2016.

The live demo can be accessed at: preview.whereiswhere.com

The microsite is a sample demonstration of the end-user experience, as travellers explore the interactive map to find out where everything is, and what each location has to offer, in the form of rich media content – videos, pictures, promotions and more.

Preview.whereiswhere.com currently features only London and Singapore, with more travel destinations to be added later. On WhereIsWhere’s interactive map platform, travel marketers can zoom in from country to area to street level; and within each category – Attractions, Lodgings, Activities and F&B, select filters according to their interest types. Speaking about the newly launched demo site, Terence Mak, the CEO, noted that “WhereIsWhere enables travellers to learn more about different destinations easily, straight from the industry itself; this way of direct marketing in Travel is a change from what travel marketers are currently doing.

ABOUT WHEREISWHERE

As an interactive world map, WhereIsWhere.com functions as a location-marketing tool, enabling businesses including hotels, attractions, icons and tourism authorities in the global tourism industry to show the world where they are, and what they have. Travel marketers claim their pins on WhereIsWhere’s map platform; and under their pin, they can upload media in the form of videos, pictures, or even their latest promotions, to entice travellers to visit.  Mid-2016 will see WhereIsWhere launch to travellers, offering them the latest information from the travel industry, as they explore the world.

For more information, visit www.whereiswhere.com.

Contact us at pr@whereiswhere.com

Source: WHEREISWHERE LAUNCHES LIVE DEMO FOR TRAVEL MARKETERS

Facebook overhauls Dynamic Ads, just for travel marketers

Facebook logoFacebook is jumping on the realisation for many travel brands that the omnipresent social network can be an important part of their marketing activity.

The company has re-launched the existing Dynamic Product Ads platform for marketers, so that travel brands can make their content more relevant to users of the site.

Whilst many have been sceptical about the effectiveness of Facebook as a challenger to Google Adwords, the pay-per-click programme used by most travel brands, some marketers are beginning to come round.

Recently for example, TripAdvisor said it would be using Facebook and YouTube more in its marketing activity during 2016.

The new Dynamic Ads for travel will allow brands to target people that have expressed an interest in going to a specific destination and during specific dates.

Facebook says the new platform has been tested by a number of travel brands, such as Trivago and Marriott, with a gradual roll-out to other customers in the coming months.

The company says:

“For example, a travel business can connect with people who viewed a hotel on their website by showing them an ad featuring the hotel they viewed along with similar hotels in the area.

“Advertisers can now also help people complete their trips by showing relevant hotels to people who have purchased flights on their website or in their app.

“And to help advertisers offer people the best experience, the hotel options shown include dynamic availability and pricing, so people always see the most up-to-date information.”

 

This week will also see the launch of the existing Dynamic Ads platform for Facebook’s sister brand, image-sharing giant Instagram.

The existing Dynamic Ads platform has also been launched with Facebook’s sister brand, image-sharing giant Instagram.

Whilst not apparently as powerful or relevant as the new Dynamic Ads on Facebook, brands can re-target users of their websites when they shift their activity over to Instagram.

Source: Facebook overhauls Dynamic Ads, just for travel marketers

A sneak peek at Google’s upcoming travel app, Trips | TechCrunch

News that Google would soon begin testing a new mobile travel application leaked out in April and TechCrunch were quick to cover it.

The app, called Trips, is being trialled with a small group of testers, and will allow users to keep track of past and upcoming trips, while also making recommendations about tourist destinations, restaurants, local transportation options, and more.  Access to the Trips mobile app is only being made available to members of Google’s Local Guides program.  A revamp and rebranding of Google’s prior City Experts effort, Local Guides launched last year as Google Maps’ competitor to Yelp’s Elites.

As with Yelp, program members are offered a variety of rewards and benefits in exchange for writing business reviews, posting photos, and helping to fill in and correct Maps information. One of those benefits, as Google previously indicated, is early access to new Google products and features. This appears to be one example of that perk in action. According to the initial leak, Local Guides were invited to be among the first to try a new “travel assistant app for Android and iPhone.”

What’s interesting about the new app is that it’s able to pull in your trip information just by scanning your Gmail messages, similar to how Google’s virtual assistant, Google Now, also works.

That makes it slightly competitive with TripIt, which has the larger goal of helping to automate collection of your trips into a single interface, then provide useful services on top of that, like tracking points, getting flight alerts, setting reminders, changing seat selections, sharing trips with others, and more.

However, in the case of the Google Trips app, it seems the focus is less on mimicking the somewhat utilitarian nature of most travel planners and companion apps, and more on the fun that comes with exploring a new destination.

As an app built using Google Maps data, Trips lets you find things to do – both inside and outdoors – around your location. It also helps you manage reservations, find nearby food and drink, access a list of saved places, and plan how you’ll get from one place to the next.

For this reason, Trips would likely have more of an impact on local travel guide apps, instead of more comprehensive trip planners.

This latter feature is found in the “Getting Around’ section, which offers details on the different options, including public transportation schedules for things like buses and trains, plus information on taxis and ride sharing services and more.

Also useful is that Trips allows you to browse your saved trip information even when you’re offline.

The screenshots and details regarding the app were posted to the Dutch blog AndroidWorld, then picked up by 9to5Google.

Much of what Trips offers can actually be found in Google Maps, thanks to the enhancements of that app over the years to offer more information than just maps and navigation. However, the Trips app puts this information into a standalone, native interface complete with a Material design and easy-to-use layout.

While the app being tested is available on Android, Google had said that it would be available on iOS, as well. The company has not yet confirmed further details about the app or its launch plans.

When asked, a Google spokesperson only provided this comment on the Trips app:

“We love to travel and are hard at work dreaming up new ways to make the travel experience hassle-free. While we do that, sit tight and keep on using our amazing tools like Google Flights, Hotel Search and Destinations on Google to plan your next adventure.”

Source: A sneak peek at Google’s upcoming travel app, Trips | TechCrunch

The Travel Marketing Awards:  Travel marketing tips from the industry’s mould-breakers – TTG Media

The recent Travel Marketing Awards in the UK highlighted some excellent new case studies.  We particularly liked this one from Hostelworld featuring Chris Eubank.

Hostelworld

Award: Best PR Tactical, and the only platinum winner, for its Hostelling with Chris Eubank video – a collaboration with Lucky Generals creative agency.

Brief: To engage with the target audience of millennials, reminding them that hostels are not just affordable social hubs but that they boast increasingly stylish spaces.

Strategy: “The millennial audience is on mobile and social media,” says Ottokar Rosenberger, chief marketing officer at Hostelworld, explaining why digital is such a focus for the brand. The company’s Hostelling with Chris Eubank video, which was uploaded to YouTube, was born out of an 18-year-old sketch that featured on TV’s I’m Alan Partridge show, where Partridge suggested the idea to a BBC executive.

The idea was brought to life last year after Eubank expressed his confusion on Twitter over why people always asked him about youth hostels. The online hostel aggregator seized the opportunity to introduce the eloquent former boxer to the world of hostels. “Everybody knows Eubank and lots of young people are in on the Partridge joke – it was culturally very relevant,” Rosenberger explains. “So when Eubank came around and said, ‘Hey, what is up with hostels and me?’, that got us going.”Rosenberger adds that it is testament to the team’s ability to innovate quickly that made the idea a reality. “From going, ‘Should we do this?’ to getting Eubank involved and into the Brighton hostel, to putting it online, it was four days. If we’d done it a week later, I don’t think it would’ve worked… [Working on the momentum built online] was absolutely the key to success.”

Masterminding such a successful campaign all comes down to having great brand awareness, Rosenberger adds. “It was tongue-in-cheek, but also very authentic for our brand. [It’s important to] always be authentic about what you do and what you stand for as a brand.”

ROI: The video reached an audience of two billion and was picked up by national media. “We were featured in places we wouldn’t normally get to, such as the BBC” says Rosenberger. “We wanted to pierce through the consciousness of millennials. And we totally achieved that.”

Watch the ad here:

 

Judge’s feedback
Aneil Bedi, partner at M&C Saatchi, says: “The key to good marketing is that it has to present ‘old’ information in a new, surprising but relevant way. What makes Hostelworld’s Hostelling with Chris Eubank so brilliant is that it combined all this with the impact of everyone being in on the Alan Partridge joke. It didn’t cost a fortune and the results were outstanding – a masterstroke of marketing. It was a unanimous decision to give it The Travel Marketing Awards’ highest rating – platinum. I can’t wait to see what they do next.”

Source: TTG Media | Travel industry, travel agent and tourism news, events and jobs – Features – TTMAs: Travel marketing tips from the industry’s mould-breakers

A new dynamic packaging experience ready to take off

TravelC LogoThe Travel Marketing Store has recently signed an agreement to jointly take to market the excellent dynamic packaging solution developed by Mallorca based Travel Compositor.   Their online product, TravelC, provides an excellent platform for travel agents, tour operators, destination management companies, destination marketing organisations, start-up and existing online travel agents to provide a new level of dynamic packaging for their customers.

The solution connects to all three major GDS, Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus plus has integrated two low-cost airline aggregators, Mystifly and Travelfusion therefore provided excellent coverage of flights.  As the flight search takes place the lowest direct and connected fares are offered with simultaneous hotel suggestions being presented.

The solution also can connect to a variety of hotel aggregators or “bed banks”.  The system dynamically packages hotel content with selected flights with the ability to add transfers and activities all from a single screen interface.  Complex itineraries can be built at speed and saved as a brochure to share with customers or friends.

Duncan Alexander, Managing Director at The Travel Marketing Store stated “we are delighted to team up with Travel Compositors particularly with our approach to key destinations, airlines and airports to provide a better solution to market stop-overs and through connections.   We have been looking for some considerable time to find the right technology partner for our “flyvia out of the box campaign proposition” and we have found it in TravelC”.

Once flights and6ab9e0a7-1a98-4d34-8482-31aede6e5deb hotels are selected transfers and activities can be booked including tours and restaurants.  Soon a rental car aggregator will also be added to the packaging capabilities offering a full service suite for all leisure and business travel needs.

This unique solution can be deployed with any travel online retailer and tailored to meet their requirements.  The Travel Marketing store is currently in discussion with a number if destinations, airlines and tour operators regarding adopting this unique dynamic packaging solution.

In particular the solution can be used for promoting single and multi-stop over packages.

If you want to know more please contact us or view their Travel Marketing Directory listing.