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

Selling to China via ‘social travel marketplace’, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

A team of five Singaporeans has created an online platform for small travel service providers here and worldwide to sell directly to Chinese travellers.

It is led by Internet pioneer and serial entrepreneur Wong Toon King, 49; and former chief executive of financial solutions company Melioris Mak Chee Wah, 48.

They unveiled their plans last month for Wegogo, a “social travel marketplace” on social media platform WeChat.

Businesses can go to Wegogo to sign up for a free account, which will create a microsite on WeChat for them. They can then list their company information, products, contacts and promotions on it.

Upon registration, a QR code that links to the microsite will be generated, which they can use for their marketing collateral.

More than 3,000 providers both here and abroad have signed up thus far, including Raintr33 Hotel Singapore.

EMPOWER AND ENABLE

The Chinese don’t have Facebook or Instagram. What we want to do is empower (operators) to have the ability to talk to them socially. The next step is to enable the commerce.

WEGOGO CHAIRMAN WONG TOON KING, on the “social travel marketplace”.

The platform allows travel operators to tap into the Chinese travel market through WeChat – the most popular messaging app in China – without needing to invest heftily in marketing or IT, said Ms Reene Ho-Phang, 46, Wegogo’s strategic adviser.

She is also managing director of travel marketing and representation firm BrandStory. Also in the team are Mr Yue Yew Hoong, 48, and Mr Richard Tan Boon Piew, 48.

Wegogo chairman’s, Mr Wong, added: “The Chinese don’t have Facebook or Instagram. What we want to do is empower (operators) to have the ability to talk to them socially. The next step is to enable the commerce.”

WeChat supports payments and money transfer. It also has a micro-blogging function where users can post photos and video and share articles.

For a start, the team will highlight operators that offer “authentic local experiences” – for instance, a chilli crab-cooking lesson or home-dining service – through videos focused on people behind the business.

“We have seen a shift in Chinese traveller profiles from sightseeing and only visiting iconic attractions, to engaging in experience-seeking journeys across the world to learn different cultures and to immerse themselves locally,” said Mr Mak.

The team has ambitious plans to cater to the needs and wants of this burgeoning group of travellers.

In 2014, the Chinese made 109 million trips abroad, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimated. It predicts that this figure will hit 200 million by 2020.

Singapore, too, has been impacted by the growth. It welcomed 2.1 million Chinese visitors last year, up 22 per cent from the year before.

In future, the team hopes to build an artificial intelligence-based system that tracks online activities of Chinese consumers – what they search for, post and buy – to get a picture of what they want when planning trips.

The team will then match the consumers to the relevant travel service providers. Over time, the goal is to allow businesses to tailor products to match these needs.

“It’s a big idea and it takes time to evolve,” said Mr Wong, who led a group of private investors to back the venture with an angel funding of $500,000.

The idea for the start-up was inspired by the huge potential of the China market, said Mr Mak.

Ms Corina Chong, director of Raintr33 Hotel which opened in December 2014, said: “We all acknowledge that China is a huge market that we can’t ignore. For a relatively new hotel, we’ve reached the stage where we want to look at bigger markets like China. Wegogo gives us an avenue to do that.”

Source: Selling to China via ‘social travel marketplace’, Singapore News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

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

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.

Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | EyeforTravel

instagramIn a recent In EyeforTravel research paper they made one thing very clear – the photo-sharing platform cannot be ignored.

When Instagram launched back in 2010, it seemed like a great idea. By September 2011 it had 10m users and it wasn’t long before Facebook had spotted this fast-growing visually driven opportunity.

By April 2012, Instagram had been drawn into the Facebook-fold and has been pretty unstoppable ever since. According to recent EyeforTravel reserach, the fast-growing social platform has 400 million monthly users, up by around 25% on the previous year.

Another stand out number of the research is that 60% of travel companies today are including Instagram in their marketing mix, putting it behind only Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.

60% include Instagram in their marketing mix

95% the number of marketers using Facebook

75% of brands incorporate social content directly onto their brand website

Source: EyeforTravel

Given how much travellers love to take snaps and how shareable Instagram had made this, not to Facebook’s vested interest, this isn’t surprising, However, there are some interesting developments on the horizon. According to James Quarles, Global Head of Business and Brand Development at Instagram: “Inspiring people to ‘Book Now’ on Instagram is already being adopted by the industry, including major hotel brands and airlines.”

The results, he adds, “are promising”.

Battling it out for marketing dollars

While it comes as no surprise that Facebook is the clear winner in the battle for marketing dollars (95% of marketers today use it), a number of newer networks are making inroads – Pinterest, Vimeo, Foursquare and Tumblr all make the top 10.

“Imagery is a critical part of the travel decision-making process and our research, which shows the rise of a number of sites specialising in photos and video, bears this out,” says Alex Hadwick, head of research at EyeforTravel.

Looking ahead, this points to growing opportunities for travel companies to engage in more direct marketing to consumers through social media channels. “They are also now able to close the loop, with several of these sites adding ‘buy buttons’ that can redirect to a brand’s booking pages,” says Hadwick.

The incorporation of travel companies onto social media is also happening in reverse, with brands placing social media directly onto their brand websites. Over three-quarters of those surveyed report that they incorporate social media content onto their websites already, and nearly half host blogs and videos.

Here is the link to the full report: Utilizing User Generated Content

Source: Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

Obvious personalisation – Big Data to organise travel around the weather

Personalisation (you really can’t get away from the word these days) comes in many forms, but sometimes the most simple application of it can potentially provide the biggest rewards.

So whilst travel brands figure out how they can slice and dice the mountains of data which is now captured about a customer over time, it is actually an external factor that has a huge influence on travel purchasing decisions.

From a leisure travel perspective, what the weather is likely to be in a destination is hugely important.

This is obvious – but how many travel brands go beyond just providing an online chart that will indicate if the average temperature and precipitation are likely to be best for the beach or for visiting museums? And how many then tie that into their marketing and content strategy? Probably very few.

Step forward DigitalMeteo, a ten-year-old data science organisation from Spain which is run by meteorologists and has a Big Data-led idea for the travel industry.

The company argues that, firstly, travel brands are missing out on ensuring their travellers are armed with the right information about the weather in a destination, but more importantly, how metrological data can then be used to target new customers through marketing and web content.

Furthermore, matching the weather patterns with the data from user profiles so companies have an opportunity to then have a relationship with the customer that arguably hits at the heart of the personalisation conundrum: relevancy.

So how does it work?

Speaking during the FITURTech event in Madrid, Spain, this week, DigitalMeteo CEO Emilio Rey (himself a meteorologist) and business development manager Fabian Gonzalez say they have analysed decades of weather patterns to create a predictive tool that plugs into a travel brand’s back-end.

The platform then works in various ways:If the weather on a given day is cold and wet in the user’s location (checking the IP address), then content on a website will alter so that it features destinations and relevant images where the weather is more favourable.

Data can also be used to make alternative suggestions to a user when they enter dates and destinations for a trip, based on what the weather is likely to be.

Over time, with return customers, the system will be able to suggest destinations knowing that on a previous trip the user had a poor experience because of the weather.

The platform works both ways, as well – having the historic data of thousands of travellers has allowed the company to establish particular trends in trip behaviour.

For example, when it rains in Madrid, citizens are most likely to search for city breaks to Paris, Rome or elsewhere in Europe, but on warmer days they often search for beach destinations elsewhere in Spain.

Such efforts to understand and capitalise on weather patterns are probably even more important when it comes to a company’s digital marketing strategy.

DigitalMeteo says that being able to quickly react to a weather situation (a typically grey, miserable day in London, for example), using customer email marketing, allows a company to target users with both relevant and timely offers for a trip.

The platform has been tested in recent months with an unnamed, major online travel agency in Spain, Gonzalez says, with further results and details about the partnership to be announced in a few months.

Source: Obvious personalisation – Big Data to organise travel around the weather

Research reveals most-used search keywords for travel industry: bizreport

Analysis from digital marketing intelligence firm SimilarWeb has revealed the most popular search terms used by U.S. consumers searching for information to book their next vacation.

Between the months of January and November, 2015, the most popular online keyword search in the travel industry was ‘Expedia’. The term generated a whopping 32.7 million organic searches during the 11 months.

In fact, instead of generic travel terms, the names of leading airlines and online travel agents all featured in the top spots for organic online travel searches, accounting for 15.3% of all keyword searches. Behind ‘Expedia’ came ‘Kayak’, ‘American Airlines’, ‘TripAdvisor’, ‘South West’, ‘South West Airlines’, and ‘United Airlines’. In eighth place was ‘Airbnb’.

Non-branded, or generic, travel keywords played a much smaller role in generating website traffic for the travel industry.  ‘Flight tracker’ was the highest generic keyword accounting for 0.41% of all searches, followed by ‘hotels’ (0.31%), ‘flights’ (0.17%) and ‘restaurants near me’ (0.11%).

“In any industry, organic searches are a major barometer of brand recognition and trust,” says Pascal Cohen, SimilarWeb  Insights Manager. “In the travel industry this is particularly evident with many of the biggest online sites now front of mind whenever we book a trip.  In an industry where more than 40% of travel companies generate traffic from search, companies not getting searched for are unlikely to generate bookings. Understanding the right keywords driving traffic to sites can make a major impact on a company’s success in this competitive market.”

Travel and hospitality companies have made good progress in the journey to digital maturity – new report | Econsultancy

More than a third (35%) of travel and hospitality organizations classify themselves as ‘digital disruptors’, and a further 48% describe their organizations as ‘fast followers’, according to research published today by Econsultancy and Adobe.

Additionally, over two-fifths (43%) of companies in this sector say they have a ‘central, integrated function dedicated to digital transformation’.

A global survey of nearly 200 senior digital marketing and e-commerce executives working for companies in the travel and hospitality sector found that the rise of digital-only companies and the sharing economy are top of mind when it comes to competitive and environmental pressures, and are important factors in driving companies to optimize and sometimes redefine their proposition and services.

The Digital Trends in the Travel and Hospitality Sector report also found that companies in this sector have really grasped the importance of mobile and are more focused on this business imperative than their counterparts in other industries, placing mobile at the heart of the customer journey.

Two in five (41%) companies agree that they are ‘mobile-first’, and almost two-thirds (63%) say that they have budget specifically allocated to mobile experimentation over the next 12 months.

The research has also revealed that the vast majority (82%) of companies are attempting to build a 360-degree view of customers in order to communicate to them more effectively. Three-quarters of responding companies (75%) say they have a data analytics strategy, but a significant proportion of these say (44%) that this strategy isn’t multichannel.

According to Mohammad Gaber, Head of Industry Strategy & Marketing, Travel & Hospitality at Adobe:

“The results of this research point to a technology, cultural, people and process transformation that is occurring in this sector. With focused integrated transformation functions, increasingly mobile-first posture and formalized data analytics strategies, it’s clear that progress is being made.

“However, significant opportunities remain, including a greater omnichannel data view, enhanced collaboration across marketing / technology teams and, importantly, the delivery of multichannel personalization.

”Other key findings include:

  • ‘Customer experience’ is the area where companies are most likely to be focused in the context of developing their digital capabilities over the next 12 months.-) More than a third (38%) of responding organizations say they are committed to the use of digital at their physical locations while a further 26% say they have carried out pilots.
  • Although virtually all companies claim to be doing some kind of personalization, only 30% say they are carrying out multichannel personalization based on digital and offline data.
  • Just under two-thirds (64%) of organizations say that their own data (first-party) is very effective for helping them to drive return on investment from marketing activities.
  • Social media platforms are the technology area where companies are most likely to be prioritizing investment over the next 12 months.

To get this report:

Source: Travel and hospitality companies have made good progress in the journey to digital maturity – new report | Econsultancy

www.flyvia.com : get there for less

flyvialogojpeg

The Travel Marketing Store has started a new project to assist destinations to more effectively market stopovers.  For leisure or even business travellers significant savings can be made by flying indirectly to a destination and if planned well can create an additional vacation or business opportunity.

flyvia.com brings together three leading affiliate marketing programmes with Dohop, the flight meta search engine, Booking.com and GetYourGuide for destination activities.

On one site and with partner links you can plan and book cost effective stop over trips.

Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy

The first act of out-reaching to the crowd is 300-years-old (dates back to 1714), but the term ‘crowdsourcing’ was first coined in 2005 by two Wired Magazine editors Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson.

The whole idea of the internet is inherently based on the idea of crowdsourcing.  The internet is the place where the opinions of thousands are collected to help others in their decision-making.  And now social platforms have made it very simple to instantly reach out to many people and pick their brains.  The web is a silo of opinions, ideas and services curated by the mob.  People also tend to be more open in web-based projects.

Crowdsourcing has proven to be one of the most disruptive business models of the modern age.

In travel, the most notable examples are TripAdvisor and Airbnb, whose business models are built on user-generated resources.  The traditional travel sector has woken up to the value of crowdsourced marketing, too.  It’s not only the popular (and cost-effective) thing to do: it’s just plain good marketing.

Why? Because marketing at its core means bonding with your customer.

These three traditional British travel brands below use crowdsourcing to bring their products to market in new and exciting ways and drive innovation:

1) British Airways

In 2011, British Airways was the first British travel brand that turned to the public to co-create its aircraft menus, movies and livery.  Budding chefs, scriptwriters and artists were called upon to submit their ideas as part of the airline’s ‘Great Britons’ programme, initially launched in 2009 in anticipation of the Olympic Games.

These ideas were then taken forward and enhanced by category experts like renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, actor Richard E Grant and artist Tracey Emin.

The final outcome: a new on-board menu, in-flight movies and artwork for the exterior of the aircraft.

British Airways and Metro crowdsourced collaboration.

Following the success of this project, British Airways went on to pioneer the first ever live integrated crowd-sourced travel campaign in partnership with Metro in 2014.  This initiative gave consumers a unique opportunity to create and edit content using social media channels.  As part of this campaign English comedian Joe Wilkinson was tasked with a series of globe-trotting challenges.

Metro readers voted online for the places they would like to see him visit and the experiences they wanted him to have on his adventure.  The campaign featured a live feed of reader comments on Metro.co.uk, plus Wilkinson directly interacted with the audience using social channels.  This campaign strengthened customers’ relationships with the British Airways brand in an innovative way.

2) TUI Thomson

TUI Thomson’s “Name Our Plane” campaign saw the brand crowdsource a name for its first 787 aircraft on Twitter in 2012.

The success of this type of campaign has led Thomson to run a similar campaign this year, which focuses on both suggestions and user votes.  The selected winner’s name will be fitted on the new Dreamliner 787 and winner will be flown to a free long-haul destination on the brand new plane.

screen_shot_2015-11-04_at_11-30-28

Thomson crowdsourced the first wedding

TUI Thomson is also the first travel brand that crowdsourced a wedding decided by Facebook fans in 2015. The “Your Big Day” campaign invited people to vote for their favourite couple, the best wedding dress (which the bride then had to wear), the best hen or stag party idea and the best venue.  All expenses for the wedding and honeymoon were paid for by Thomson. The contest received 700 entrants and 10,000 votes.

3) Visit Britain

In 2014 VisitBritain worked with Genero to crowdsource a number of short films to feature on its international Sounds of GREAT Britain campaign.

Genero represents a global network of filmmakers, who were tasked with producing a number of short films reflecting the variety of sights, sounds and experiences on offer across Britain. T

he winning films were featured on VisitBritain’s Lovewall and were distributed across all global markets, with a bespoke end result for each language and region.

The films were created to give different perspectives of the locations and themes featured in VisitBritain’s ‘Sounds of GREAT Britain’ campaign.

The resulting multimedia content was original, sharable and a good example of evergreen content.Crowdsourcing allows brands to utilise the creative power of their greatest asset – their customers – in exciting new ways. The best projects drive interest, website traffic and all round good vibes to the brand in question.

Source: Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy