Don't Miss The Boat: Data 101

As a travel marketer, there are myriad ways you can spend budgets to sell rooms, cruises, vacation packages, and everything in between. Unfortunately, you don’t always know who likes what, why they would be interested in your product, or even if they’re even in the market to buy. 

Fortunately, there are data targeting tools to help identify key audiences for your brand. In addition to the still very important age and gender targeting methods of traditional video advertising, hotels, airlines and other brands can now use technology to reach even more defined and relevant audiences.

So, in the spirit of efficiency, here’s a travel marketer’s 101 on some of the most frequently used data sources, and how to apply them to your travel-marketing strategy. 

1st Party Data

As a travel brand, you likely have the luxury of interacting directly with your customers. Analyzing these interactions will lead to a treasure trove of information about how they interact with your brand. 



Having this information presents a huge opportunity to create meaningful, personalized interactions with your target audience. Whether tailoring the creative based on age, or using a geography to offer location-specific deals, these are incredibly impactful tactics as they’re focused on your exact customers. 

“Endemic” Behavioral Data

There is a tremendous amount of “endemic behavioral data” available in the market today that can be accessed by working with travel publishers, online travel agents, travel data specialists like Adara or Sojern, or through data management platforms like BlueKai, eXelate or Lotame. These providers, for example, allow brands to reach highly relevant consumers who might be in the process of researching travel, or who are deemed “heavy business travelers,” or “frequent users of luxury hotels.” Using endemic data is a proven digital strategy and a great way to make your marketing dollars work harder for driving ROI. Additionally, these data sets can be applied to TV buying by gaining more insights into what potential consumers are watching.

3rd Party Past Purchase or Shopper Card Data

Third-party transactional data is another good source of targeting, due to its sheer size. Vendors like Nielsen, Cardlytics, Kantar Shopcom, MasterCard and American Express, in a privacy compliant and anonymized manner, allow brands to target audiences based on past credit card information. So for example, a luxury hotel and spa can target consumers within a certain DMA or region who have purchased similar services or relevant products in the last six months. 

Mobile /Geo Fencing Data: These solutions are relatively new in today’s marketing mix, but can provide a whole new opportunity to target, via mobile media, relevant audiences based on the geo-patterns of their devices. A good example of this application would be based on audiences that are frequently seen at an airport within a certain geo-location, deeming them as a high-value traveler. 

TV Activity: Given TV’s longstanding importance in advertising, the ability to use this data for targeting is a huge industry improvement. Working with vendors like Nielsen, comScore (the former Rentrak) and TiVo, vendors can connect audiences across traditional TV and digital video. Using these connections, larger travel brands who rely heavily on TV can now manage their cross-screen reach and frequency. For example, they could show an ad online to a consumer who was not exposed, or underexposed, to their TV campaign. Or, they could target consumers that have seen a competitor’s TV ad. 

These are just a few examples, and there are many more, but the point is there’s tremendous value in leveraging data. Matching relevant ads to the right consumer is helping a growing number of travel marketers sail toward better results—bad puns aside.

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