Travel marketers big and small now live in a golden age of tools for reaching the right customer with the right message for driving results—whether that be hotel bookings, cruise sales, ticket sales or on-location visits.
Those tools largely revolve around the use of technology. Where large-scale advertising once relied on massive budgets and brand-building campaigns, today technology has opened a whole new spectrum of options for running digital marketing campaigns that truly drive results.
Here are three huge advantages technology has brought to the travel industry:
Moving down the funnel
More often than not, travel purchases take place online. The days of relying on travel agents to buy an airline ticket, book a hotel or even to understand what attractions exist in any given city have long past. These things are all readily available online and so easy to access for comparing prices, reading reviews and whatever else is needed to travel on pretty much any budget. Consumers have whatever data and information is needed literally at their fingertips.
However, the nature of this change has also resulted in a shift for how advertising is executed and what marketers can do about messaging, targeting and measuring results. While broader “brand marketing” is still useful (there’s a great example from Thomas Cook in my column from last month), advertisers now have the ability to drive lower-funnel conversions.
This is especially important for those vendors with time-sensitive inventory, such as open hotel rooms or tickets for a cruise line. By being able to run specific campaigns for specific goods (think one-weekend hotel room discount), travel marketers now have the ability to drive lower-funnel conversions that truly matter to their bottom line. Furthermore, the power of digital marketing to meet consumers in the place where they’re most likely to convert—online—makes this a perfect opportunity for the taking.
Driving Effective Reach
Before the advent of advertising technology, advertisers had two options for reaching consumers.
1. Run a direct-sold campaign on a highly read or watched media destination (i.e., the New York Times or a broadcast TV program). This was, and is, a great avenue for brand building, but it can be very costly and almost always comes with a huge selection of wasted impressions for people not interested in the brand or not currently in the market to make a travel purchase.
2. Run a campaign in a contextually relevant publication like a travel magazine, or on a travel or lifestyle targeted cable network. This is a good option as the audience is very likely interested in the product, but it risks missing potential travelers by utilizing media outlets with limited reach among the total potential travel audience.
Today, targeting technology has revolutionized travel advertising efficiency. By targeting to audience segments that are likely to purchase a certain product, travel marketers can exponentially improve the efficiency of their campaign. For example, consumers who typically stay in luxury hotels and upscale resorts are very different from consumers who stay in motels or who are business travelers. Technology and, more importantly, data allow for marketers to understand who those audiences are online and now can target them accordingly.
By targeting audiences, rather than content sites, brands can run across a wide variety of media outlets at once. This opens the door to varied audiences and allows them to have a broader premium footprint than would have been economical using direct buys only. This also gives boutique brands the branding power of major hotel company names.
These capabilities allow big brands to further diversify their ad exposure and allow challenger brands to compete with larger players in the market—something previously not possible without massive budgets. It also provides value to consumers wanting to see all of the possible options, instead of just the major chain markets that have large ad budgets.
Achieving Guaranteed Results
Another huge benefit to advertising technology is the ability to achieve guaranteed, measurable results. Through the use of attribution technology, cross-device mapping and tracking pixels, we’re now able to understand the consumer’s true path to purchase. Knowing which ad, on which device, drove the greatest results, we can optimize campaigns to drive the most efficient results.
Additionally, most advertising technology solutions offer the ability to pay based on results, ensuring travel marketers are only spending on true conversions. This could be on a pay-per-conversion model or based on an upfront guarantee that the technology provider will achieve a defined set impressions and a certain cost.
No matter how you spin it, advertising technology brings immense value to the travel marketers that make use of it. Do you?