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

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

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Airlines

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Intermediaries

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Cruise

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Review/recommendation sites

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

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.

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

Customize Your In House Mail to Create Branded Campaigns

One of our new and featured suppliers in The Travel Marketing Directory is Rocketseed.
The value proposition is staggeringly simple.  Turn all your outbound e-mail into a controlled and measureable branded campaign.  Their solution enables the branding team of a company to centralise the management and control of header banners on all outbound e-mail and standardise the signature.
All banner clicks are recorded enabling analysis and follow up engagement.
Download Rocketseed’s brochure to view the solution below and watch their promotional video below.
Rocketseed e-mail media
Rocketseed e-mail media

Despite Fear of Terrorism, Traveler Sentiment Reaches All-Time High

MMGY_200x190It will take more than a little Zika virus or terrorism to stop people from traveling, apparently. A brand new MMGY study shows U.S. traveller’s interest in travel is at an all-time high.

The latest travelhorizons survey of 2,300 active travellers conducted by marketing services firm MMGY Global shows that the overall Traveller Sentiment Index (TSI), which measures U.S. adults’ interest in travel, time for travel, personal finances available for travel, affordability of travel, quality of service, and safety of travel, now stands at 120, the highest level recorded since its inception in 2007.

That’s not to say they are not mindful of the risks that always come with stepping outside your comfort zone. The perceived safety of travel (97) rated the lowest score, down two points from one year ago. The five other factors that determine the TSI increased between two and six points each.

Overall, slightly fewer respondents said they plan to take a trip in the next six months, but those who do expect to spend more; 63% plan to take at least one overnight leisure trip, down slightly from the 68% percent in October 2015, but 30% expect to spend more, while just 14% expect to spend less.

Fear of flying
Four in ten active leisure travelers (42%) agreed that what they see in the news affects their interest in traveling, and 53% said the news affects their choice of destination.

Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half (52%) said they don’t feel safe traveling to international destinations, and 26% said they changed some aspect of their travel plans because of the recent terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East. Ten percent switched to a destination they considered safer, and 9% postponed a planned trip, purchased travel insurance, or canceled a trip entirely.

Source: Despite Fear of Terrorism, Traveler Sentiment Reaches All-Time High

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

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

TravelClick Partners with Sojern to Expand Digital Media Network

Data-driven solution and access to premium inventory channels will drive bookings and ROI for hoteliers globally

TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, today announced that it has partnered with Sojern, one of the world’s leading performance marketing engines for travel brands. The partnership will enable TravelClick’s digital media customers to drive more bookings by leveraging Sojern’s data-driven marketing optimization engine and its access to premium inventory.

TravelClick works with thousands of hotels around the world, ranging from large chains to smaller independent properties, to manage and improve their digital advertising campaigns. TravelClick’s global media team, comprised of both media and hospitality industry experts, leverages proprietary data to determine the best media optimization strategy to achieve high returns on media investment for its clients.

Sojern joins TravelClick’s extensive network of partners enabling hoteliers to target the right audiences at the right time. “Our partnership with Sojern is another example of TravelClick’s commitment to providing our Media Solutions customers with access to a world class travel intent network,” said Scott Falconer, EVP/GM of Media Solutions for TravelClick.

“Sojern enhances TravelClick’s robust travel-focused network by leveraging their unique data partnerships to target travellers while they are making purchasing decisions online. We are confident that our hotel clients around the globe will benefit from access to this new inventory through this highly valuable partnership.”

“We are excited to be partnering with TravelClick to help hoteliers drive direct online bookings, increasing customer control and loyalty,” said Kurt Weinsheimer, Sojern’s SVP of Property Solutions. “Our real-time targeting platform filters through over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals to identify and attract travellers most likely to stay at our clients’ hotels. Combining our data-driven performance with TravelClick’s customer base of hotels worldwide will ensure that hoteliers get the most out of their digital advertising budgets.”

Source: TravelClick Partners with Sojern to Expand Digital Media Network