How technology is reshaping the travel industry and what it means for marketers
August 1, 2017
We live in a world where the only constant is change.
<br> The travel and hospitality industry is rapidly evolving and it can no longer be ignored. In order for travel marketers and industry players to keep up with the changing landscape, they must embrace technology. <br> The good news is that with technical innovation comes a vast variety of new, big opportunities for travel marketers. Moreover, it ensures the continued growth, endurance, and success of their business, as the industry continues to change form. <br> So, why is technology so important and what can you do to get ahead? Let’s find out.
Why embracing technology is the only way to move forward
Complex customer journey
The spike in tech trends has already brought with it a new level of consumer expectations, which has completely reshaped the travel customer journey. Today’s holidaymakers are using search engines, watching travel-related videos, and visiting hundreds of travel websites, all before they book a hotel, tour, flight, or decide on a travel agent. If you aren’t making your offer visible during these digital touch points, you are going to start losing customers. <br> Billions of travel-related online searches take place on Google every day. So, if you are a hotelier, Google Hotel Ads are an excellent way to automate your presence at each of a user’s digital touchpoints. The ad format ensures that your offers are visible during the entire research and booking process, dramatically increasing the chance of conversion.
Holiday planning and the research phase we just discussed are taking place on both smartphones and desktops. In fact, according to Google Analytics, <a href="https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/travel-trends-4-mobile-moments-changing-consumer-journey/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mobile visits to travel websites increased by 48% in 2014 alone</a>. As the evidence suggests, you need to ensure that your marketing strategy is cross-device compatible, including your ads, ad images, and videos. <br> Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel and Google Hotel Ads, which we will get to later, are key ad formats that you should consider for cross-device compatibility and for a maximized performance during the research phase of the travel booking process.
Personalized and positive experience
Now more than ever consumers want personalization and efficiency while planning a holiday, which goes hand-in-hand with technology. Since the foundation of the travel and hospitality industry has always been heavily supported by customer satisfaction, it only makes sense that you adapt to fit the needs of your customers. <br> Digitalization provides simple and effective methods of personalizing your marketing approach, without the manual work. Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel, for example, enable you to promote customized offers from your travel catalog to users based on their interests, location, or demographic - all by creating a single ad template.
Social media is a billboard for your reputation
Twitter having around 320 million monthly users, and Facebook having over 1.2 billion active users daily, social media has changed the way people, and customers, communicate. This can work for, or against, you and your business. If someone isn’t happy, they are going to share it. This makes it essential that you are present where your guests want you to be, connecting and engaging with them. Social media channels can also act as a customer service platform, providing you with the opportunity to engage in real-time interactions with your guests.
Indirect access to the market
Modern travel businesses are highly dependent on external portals such as booking.com, Trivago, and other aggregators who already boast high visibility and a strong user base. Listing on these sites is a great opportunity to reach new users. However, many marketers are content to hand over their product data and miss out on numerous other (often more powerful) options. <br> Travel businesses crave direct access to the market. It’s direct access that lets them get as close as possible to their customer, lets them track campaigns, and have clear control over their marketing efforts. Instead of succumbing to fatigue under the numerous digital options available, marketers must open up to the possibility that technology can actually give them that direct market access they crave--and, with the right tools, it need not be impossibly difficult. <br> Product data feed usage will help marketers take back market control while also building visibility and brand.
New channels, new opportunities
Some of the strongest new tools for travel and hotel marketing are actually some of the most obvious: Facebook and Google. Both of these platforms offer ecommerce businesses direct access to consumers (with plenty of options for targeting and optimizing, too!). There are several other channels available, but these two are staples to the modern travel marketer. <ul> <li>How these ads work</li> </ul> The most common method for any of these channels uses product data feeds to generate ads. This can sound intimidating because it’s new for many marketers, but it’s actually a very logical step for the marketing-inclined. <br> Every company’s product data feed will be compiled of roughly the same information. Titles, descriptions, prices, and even image links are all compiled into this one file. <br> Keeping this data clean and optimized for export channels (like Facebook) is the real work. In general, your exported feed should always be completely current, thorough, clean, and (the reason marketers live and breathe) compelling. All of this data must be properly crafted to reach users and compel them to click.
How Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel can help you move ahead
Why you should be using Google Hotel Ads
With the recent influx of technology, if you are a hotelier, Google should be one of your top travel companions. From the very first thought of taking a holiday, all the way down to finalizing the booking, <a href="https://productsup.com/blog/google-hotel-ads-benefits-requirements/">Google Hotel Ads</a> enable hotel marketers to be where their customers are at every stage of the booking funnel. <br> The format allows you to automatically promote your hotel(s) in the search engine results page (SERP) of Google and Google Maps. The ads are tailored to how a user is searching for hotels, which breaks down to general searches, i.e. "hotels in Chicago," specific searches, e.g "James hotel Chicago," and searches on Google Maps.
Marketers must master inventory data
Marketing teams are not only responsible for creating shiny images and tracking clicks. The modern marketer is also taking the lead in terms of inventory data. Successfully marketing to common channels like Facebook, Google, or TripAdvisor all require product data feeds. This will take some teams time to get accustomed to. <br> However, once marketers see the optimization and reach possibilities of feed-driven ads, they may find themselves converted to big fans of inventory data. <br> Using travel inventory, marketers can achieve all kinds of new results. <ul> <li>Expand offers to more channels such as Facebook or Google, be present on the entire customer journey and take new opportunities easily and quickly</li> <li>Offer a personalized experience to potential customers</li> <li>Reach users across devices and channels</li> <li>Leverage inventory data to improve campaign performance</li> </ul>
Agile data: a necessity for feed-based marketing
What happens when a new channel opens up? What if your team wants to take advantage of the holiday season, A/B test images, or grow without having to consult IT? In order to leverage channels effectively, marketers must make sure their data is agile. That means, instead of being in clunky impossible-to-analyze files or trapped in limbo between IT and your own team, this data is always ready-to-go and easy-to-use. <br> Agile data should be: <ul> <li>Always available</li> <li>Easily transformable</li> <li>Adaptable and available for new market opportunities</li> <li>Scaleable</li> </ul> How can you make your data agile? A good data feed management platform can help your data be all of the above. It makes data available 24/7 and in a format that marketers can understand and even optimize. <br> Luckily, the nature of Google Hotel Ads and Facebook Dynamic Travel Ads make them one of the quickest ways to get started. So now is the time to get your tech on!
Senior Content & Copywriter