3 ways travel marketers can be 'always on' in 2020

3 ways travel marketers can be 'always on' in 2020

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Consumers want everything, they want it right now and, thanks to technology, it’s possible. Equipped with smartphones, tablets, smart television’s and more, consumers have access to unlimited information. Being constantly connected is changing how consumers shop and book travel. In fact, in 2018 consumers went more places than they did the year before, with trips to hospitality, travel and entertainment destinations increasing by 6%.

Brands have an opportunity to capitalise on this trend in 2020. However, to reach always on consumers, travel marketers must also be always-on. But what exactly is “always on”?

Traditionally, travel marketers have taken a seasonal or burst approach to running advertising campaigns. While reaching your customers during these periods of increased planning are still important, travellers are now booking trips throughout the year—actually, they’re often booking multiple trips at once and using more than one device to do so. To complicate it further, the same person may be travelling for business or leisure, travelling with family, looking for a romantic weekend away, or all of these. It’s the job of marketing to meet those potential travelers in the right moment at the right time with the right message.

Research shows that the number of sites and apps visited when making a travel purchase can range from 63 to as high as 735—this is up from an average of only 35 just a few years ago.

At its core, an always-on strategy takes a continuous, proactive approach to digital marketing. It uses live data, the ability to dynamically segment audiences, and the power of real-time intent signals to know how and when to engage with a potential customer. This means capturing more customer intent data outside the typical seasons when travellers are thinking about their getaways and employing seasonal campaigns paired with a continuous marketing strategy. It’s not about aggressive targeting or even greater ad spend; it’s about learning and responding to the changing way consumers research and book travel, and reaching them when it’s right for them.

Here are three ways marketers can be always on in the coming year:

1. Keep what works and build on it

An always-on strategy allows you to reach travellers the moment they start dreaming about their next trip. By using what you know about their travel intent, you can engage them with more relevant messaging as they narrow options. It also means tapping into the key channels around a traveller's path to purchase - be it video, SEM, programmatic display for retargeting, Facebook, Instagram and so on. Not only will they be more likely to choose you when it comes time to book, but when you run your seasonal campaign.

Being always on allows for a strategic versus tactical setup in how marketing budget is spent, with the ability to ebb and flow around travel behavior.

A traditional approach budgets for a specific campaign and spending it over a given period. Take advantage of the data and technology that exists to expand your marketing strategy—employing seasonal campaigns paired with a continuous always-on marketing strategy. Without this change in strategy, travel brands risk missing out on valuable consumer intent signals that will be critical in helping them improve their ad targeting, performance, and scale.

2. Try a “test and learn” approach

Many marketers claim to have a data-driven approach to their marketing, but if you aren’t continually testing, then there is a good chance you are still using assumptions to fuel your strategy. An always-on strategy is fundamental to developing a data-driven approach.

A steady stream of campaign testing will allow you to establish performance baselines, and then segment a portion of your always-on budget to further test your assumptions.

Demonstrating the value to internal stakeholders at your company is essential to getting buy in.

3. Don’t take someone else’s word for it

Today’s marketing strategies need to reflect how travel planning and booking really exists. An always-on marketing strategy requires a paradigm shift, changing the way travel marketers have implemented traditional media buying models. Travel marketers are spending nearly half of their budgets on digital and with an always-on strategy one has access to better resources to effectively allocate marketing spend throughout the year.

The writer is Kurt Weinsheimer, chief solutions officer, Sojern.

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