Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

Little has been written about Expedia Media Solutions, the small but fast-growing advertising agency arm of the online travel giant Expedia. In 2015, the division is estimated to have generated about $200 million in revenue. That’s pocket change for the Bellevue, Wash.,-based parent company, which earned nearly $2 billion in the third quarter of last year alone.

Yet Expedia Media Solutions — or MeSo, as it’s known internally — is notable for its solid growth. The division had a 23% annualized growth rate on a nine-month, trailing period, as of the third-quarter, according to a Tnooz analysis of the parent company’s filings, which was corroborated by Kevin Kopelman, director of research at investment firm Cowen and Company. (Expedia declined to break out official numbers for this story.)

Fractured market

Expedia Media Solutions helps clients — primarily travel ones, such as hotels, airlines, and tourism boards — by creating and running ad campaigns aimed at boosting bookings, visitor numbers, and awareness. In a rare competitive advantage, it knows how much value a client earns from an ad because the bulk of its ads link-in to Expedia-owned brands, where it can measure changes in demand and user behaviour before, during, and after a campaign.

A hotel chain, for instance, could see if a sponsored listing in search results generated meaningful returns in room-night growth or if a brand campaign coincided with a lift in intention-to-buy among consumers. Expedia Media Solutions is notable for its attempt to bring enterprise-scale solutions and thinking to travel marketing — a sector that might be broadly described as being small-bore, fractured, and still heavily analogue. Director of product management Wendy Olson Killion noted in an interview:“

For hotel franchises, for example, there are different budgets: there are national budgets, local budgets, regional budgets. You’ll see regional travel groups, maybe a certain set of hotels, or brands of hotels in a location.”

Similarly, the destination marketing organization (DMO) side is practically a cottage industry of boutique advertising agencies, small publishers (such as travel magazines), and tourism officials. In short, travel marketing at the ad-unit level is not an obvious hunting grounds for an enterprise-scale company like Expedia.

Expedia Media Solutions has had to fight an island-by-island campaign to gain market share. It has made gains recently by adding several high-profile clients, such as Tourism Australia last June. It has done work for the destination marketing organizations of Britain, Denmark, Dubai, and the Netherlands.

Despite the big clients, Expedia Media Solutions said it is “well equipped to help the individual small supplier.” Matthew Reichek, senior director of product and analytics, cited this hypothetical example:

“If I own a B&B in Worcester, Mass., let’s say, and you represent a big chain across town, you and I can compete on a level footing using our TravelAds product…. “I can have a thousand dollars to spend, you can have a hundred thousand dollars to spend, yet if I bid more than you for certain targeting parameters, I’m going to get the positioning I want for those targeted customers until I hit my budget and you won’t, provided all the other things are equal.”

Simplicity is another factor that the division touts. A client can also come speak to one sales person to target a broad spectrum of types of travelers worldwide.

Sharper targeting

Just because it works at an enterprise scale doesn’t mean that Expedia’s ad agency arm takes a one-size-fits-all approach, said division head and global senior vice-president Noah Tratt:

“We are pretty good about identifying the nuances in people’s goals and building campaigns that are customized. We use our research and analytics to inform your creative; how much content you need to invest in; the pitch, your approach. We can target based on a lot of activity that people do on Expedia and then we can layer on other kinds of targeting variables as well.”

“For example, clients can request ads be displayed to specific demographics in specific geographic locations who are using particular types of devices and exhibiting particular types of search behaviour.”

“If I’m marketing, say, Holland to a Brazilian or to an American or someone from the People’s Republic of China, we know from booking behaviour that visitors from those destinations are going to come for a lot longer, on average, than ones from, say, the United Kingdom and Germany.”

“We would tailor our campaign for a destination according to our research from booking data on each target nationality’s typical behaviour and interests.”

Shaking up destination marketing

Expedia Media Solutions thinks it has a few competitive advantages over its boutique ad agency rivals. It said that it excels at enabling a DMO to target customers across Expedia-branded sites that match its preferred customer profile. Other shift-share reporting services can tell any given tourism board what its competitive set looks like. But Expedia’s reports may be more comprehensive than its competitors’ are when analysing at the ad-unit-level behaviours like click-through rates and impressions.

An official in, say, Macau, could choose to specifically display ads to, say, Canadians in a city whose travel buyers have recently shown a disproportionate interest in searching and buying flights to Macau and its competitors.

Reichek added:

“Targeting may sound kind of antiseptic, but if you talk about intention-based advertising, that’s what we’re doing, because, when users come to our site, they conduct certain activities that are expressing intention, where they want to go and what they’re interested doing, and you can divine a lot of meaning from that.”

Source: Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency – Tnooz

Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

 Just as travelers plan their trips to make the most of their stays, travel marketing experts need to plan their digital budgets and strategies to make the most of their spend. But with a new year come new choices, channels, and chances for online success.

To make the best digital decisions, travel marketers need to know the top trends, tech, and tactics that will matter to marketing in 2016. Rather than track down all of this data, your ticket to the latest travel insights is a fact-packed infographic created by MDG Advertising called Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Trends.

It pinpoints the five key strategies for making the most of your travel marketing budget and business over the next 12 months. To arrive at the right budget decisions, check out this informative infographic.

1. Spend on Your Website

Investing in your website is one of the wisest decisions you can make. With more and more people looking and booking on travel brand websites than third-party sites, your website delivers the first impression of your travel brand. And an optimized, user-friendly website can create a lasting impression and drive visitors to book without a second thought. The infographic shows:67% of travellers think it’s simpler to book on a travel brand website than a third-party site.

Almost two-thirds of travellers think it’s less expensive to book on a travel brand website.

Top Takeaway: To make the most of this mind-set, view your website as an important digital hub that gives online users everything they want and need.

2. Optimize MobileMobile has become a must in people’s lives, especially when researching and reserving travel. In 2016, even more travellers will be searching for travel online. According to the infographic, you can expect: 49% increase in mobile search for hotels and cruises. 47% rise in mobile search for car rentals and tours and attractions.

Top Takeaway: To serve this mobile market, make sure that all of your digital offerings, experiences, and communications are optimized for every mobile device.

3. Expect to Welcome More Millennials

Millennials already make up 40% of leisure travellers who book travel online. In 2016, their share of both the business and personal travel market will increase even more. To target these young adults, it’s essential to understand that Millennials have specific travel tendencies, such as:  They frequently book travel and share their experiences on mobile devices and digital platforms.

They tend to extend and blend business trips into personal vacations.

They spend more each day on trips than other age groups.

Top Takeaway: Use these Millennial insights to develop your digital properties and target your online messages.

4. Revisit Reviews

In 2016, online reviews and review sites will matter more than ever to travellers. According to the infographic:64% of travellers visit travel review sites like TripAdvisor for vacation ideas.

Almost half of travellers have been compelled to write a review after a travel experience.

Top Takeaway: Since these reviews are so important, travel brands need to regularly revisit and review all guest reviews to learn what they liked and lacked in their experiences.

5. Keep Your Eye on Video

Digital video is becoming more and more popular with travellers, especially on social networks. The infographic reveals these stunning statistics:

Top Takeaway: In 2016, video is a vital investment that must be incorporated with social media to reach and resonate with travellers.

 

Source: Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

IE Business School Savvy in Digital Travel Age

Today’s leading travel players must reinvent their value propositions and improve every experience, if they wish to engage and best serve the digital traveller.

The growth opportunities and opportunity costs in Digital Travel are vast as the latest study of eMarketer illustrates where worldwide digital travel revenues will surpass $533 Billion in 2015, and the 2016 outlook is double-digit growth.

The tourism sector has been fundamentally re-architected with social media, mobile and ecommerce strategies over this past decade. Success in this digital ecosystem demands that a chief marketing officer or travel entrepreneur, must understand the latest digital dynamics and underlying technology that are transforming business by dramatically altering the way people communicate, create, collaborate, share information, purchase and complete other transactions.

All travel marketing and consumer experience professionals must understand how the new consumer – traveller is becoming increasingly digital in every journey stage (dreaming, planning, booking, feeling, sharing, reviewing), in every travel purchase. The latest trends show how approximately 50% of digital travellers get inspired by looking at pictures and comments online, and over a 70% review videos and opinions before making their final decision.

Professor Kevin Sigliano of IE Business School and digital tourism expert, explains that “all of the digital and customer journey trends mean that travel enterprises with customer centric strategies and willingness to innovate have a unique opportunity to understand, build, service and sell more effectively to the new connected consumer”. Hence it is critical for all travel players to implement disruptive digital strategies driving engagement, share of mind and maximizing conversion mobile rates, as well as redefining the customer journey understanding and improved micro-segmentation campaigns.

Today’s travel professional must also understand and conquer all of the newest branding, acquisition and life time value digital techniques with a growth hacking culture in order to gain the maximum user traction and revenues.

The Digital Tourism program of IE Executive Education will enable the participants to understand the “digital tourist” and how to market effectively when developing new marketing strategies, as well conquering the main digital techniques (paid media, mobile, social media, content, listening …). Leading tourism and digital experts, as well as best practices of leading travel companies (Tripadvisor, Google, Room Mates Hotels, Destinia, Bla Bla Car, Amadeus, Turismoi, …) have been key in designing this renewed Digital Travel course.

The alumni have pointed out that the program provides the right mix between innovation, practical cases, analytics and methodologies.

Specifically, Natalia Bayona of ProColombia points out that “the Digital Tourism Program at IE allowed me to develop the strategy for promoting Colombia as a tourist destination, through studying the best practices of the travel industry, the use of big data, consumer patterns via mobile phones, and the latest digital strategies.”This innovative course provides participants with a roadmap to address the main challenges of travel where digital marketing and excellence in customer journey are the key success drivers. The practical sessions will address the real opportunities of the travel sector and respond to the needs of the traveller. Through the adoption of different roles, participants will be able to design an effective digital travel transformation strategy.

Finally, this 4 day course is also an opportunity to meet great professionals of the travel sector and share views and network. Chairman Juan José Güemes of the IE Entrepreneurship & Innovation Centre points out that “today’s travel traditional company must disrupt and adopt innovative star-tup strategies if they want to compete effectively in the new cognitive and digital era.” Hence it is clear that the learning journey in digital tourism never ends and only the best strategies engage and wow the traveller generating the desired financial and business results.

Source: IE Business School Savvy in Digital Travel Age | .TR

MessageGears Provides Enterprise-Wide Email Marketing Solution to Expedia | Benzinga

MessageGears’ hybrid technology provides Expedia.com with the power and security of on-premises software combined with the efficiency and scalability of cloud delivery.  Expedia plans to implement the MessageGears hybrid email marketing solution throughout many of the brands in its extensive portfolio.

With MessageGears’ hybrid email marketing solution, Expedia does not have to replicate data and send it to the cloud. Instead, Expedia is able to access the most up-to-date data from the company’s secure, internal database, while making use of the cloud to handle resource-heavy tasks, such message rendering and delivery without having to replicate, sync, or store data in the cloud. The end result is more personalized, relevant, and efficient messaging using the freshest data available from consumer touch points.

“MessageGears provides us with unique benefits, including real-time access to our customer data from a centralized database. This allows us to increase the personalization and relevancy of our communication with our customers,” said Scott Grove, Sr. Director of Technology at Expedia.com.

“In addition, MessageGears helps us achieve consistency across our email marketing platforms so we can maintain an up-to-date global view of customer engagement.”

“The volume of messages Expedia sends means the company has some of the industry’s most demanding requirements when it comes to email marketing and customer data management. The MessageGears team helped Expedia meet these challenges head-on, enhancing the company’s ability to send timely and relevant messages,” said Dan Roy, CEO of MessageGears.

Through working with enterprise clients, such as Expedia, MessageGears has experienced explosive growth. The company’s email volume has quadrupled since 2014, while still maintaining industry leading uptime.

Current MessageGears clients include ClickDimensions, MusicToday, PGi, Pursuant Health, Right On Interactive, Runkeeper, and Sabre Travel Network. MessageGears expects monthly message volume to exceed 2 billion by the end of 2016.

Source: MessageGears Provides Enterprise-Wide Email Marketing Solution to Expedia | Benzinga

Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

Smart technology is transforming the tourism industry with personalized services that suggest richer and more enjoyable experiences suited to a traveler’s individual preferences, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2015, in association with Euromonitor International released at World Travel Market London.

Using mobile technology and big data analytics, companies are now able to suggest interesting activities for travelers at their location, reveals the report, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at WTM London 2015.wtm png

For example, the TripAdvisor Apple Watch app can send a push notification at lunchtime with information about the highest-rated restaurant nearby. The next step will be tailoring the service to travelers’ personal tastes.  Google Now is aiming to proactively bring consumers information before they ask, based on their past behavior, with geo-localization keeping suggestions locally relevant. The key lies in providing “context-aware information in the moment that matters”, according to Google UK Sales Director, Bernd Fauser.

OTAs such as Booking.com and Expedia, are currently working on customers’ preferences to increase booking conversions, and they will move to personalized mobile services next.  World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “The opportunities that smart technology offers travel companies are endless and we have only scratched the surface.  It won’t be long before personalized suggestions – created from cross-checking consumers’ preferences and current location with online inventories of local travel services and activities – will become the norm.“

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “Companies now have the possibility to collect a wealth of information about consumers that was previously unavailable to them – usually referred to as big data – and this is leading to offers of more personalized experiences.“A gradual shift to one-to-one marketing in travel will be evident, with each consumer treated in a different way in terms of the overall marketing mix including pricing.”

Mobile travel sales reached US$96 billion in 2014, accounting for 12.5% of global on-line travel sales, according to Euromonitor International. They are forecast to record a strong compound annual growth of 22% over the period 2014-2019.

Download the report

Source: Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

expedia-logoInteresting analytical review of Expedia’s position in the marketplace by Eye for Travel…

“Has the OTA industry become a duopoly now that the US Justice Department has nodded through Expedia’s $1.3bn acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide? Certainly Wall Street has seen celebrations that only Expedia and Priceline among the monster groups are left standing. (Less research work to do!) The share prices of the two have been very upbeat since the head of the Justice Department’s Anti-Division, Bill Baer, announcement that “we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competitors and consumers”.

Source: Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel