NB: This is a guest article by Sylvia Weiler, general manager of the tourism division at Sojern.
Over the past several years, attractive offers from across the entire tourism spectrum have made travel more accessible than ever.
New deal sites, last minute pricing, and easy access to detailed destination information have created growing interest in far-off locations and given travelers a much larger consideration set when planning their next trip.
Today, travelers are finding it just as easy – and in many cases just as affordable – to plan an international vacation as it is to plan a domestic one. With this evolution in mind, destination marketers can no longer view their competitors as only existing within a limited geographical area.
Losing in the destination marketing game is not an option. Marketers must compete aggressively and strategically against local, national, and global destinations by using more relevant and efficient marketing channels.
Used effectively, these new channels can help drive visitation to their countries, states, and cities.
With most annual tourism budgets tied directly to the number of visitors a destination receives each year (via a hotel occupancy tax for example), increasing visitation and progressively growing market share are hugely important to a destinationâ€™s continued success.
One of the new tools available to destination marketers is audience targeted display media.
This vehicle provides the opportunity to bolster successful marketing programs by reaching desired target audiences at scale with highly relevant messages. This approach can ultimately improve ad campaign performance, reduce marketing costs and increase visitation.
Destination marketers can now accurately reach consumers that have demonstrated specific intent actions or interests related to a destination.
This is a far more accurate and successful approach than using content as a proxy to identify and target travelers. The ability to market to the most qualified consumers and engage them with a relevant message is critical for driving strong campaign results and achieving the key goal of increasing visitation.
This probably all sounds terrific at an abstract level, but how does it play out? What does it look like in practice?
There are a number of elements that come into play:
1. Know where travelers are going before they do
Knowing what destinations travelers are searching for â€“ and better yet, whether theyâ€™re looking at fares â€“ is an incredible capability that has only become possible with the recent rise of Big Data.
With this information, destination marketers can reach people before they make their travel decisions.
To accomplish this most effectively, marketers should leverage their own first party data, combined with data from trusted sources within the industry.
2. Wave through the window
Clearly most advertising is targeted, however intent targeting provides the critical knowledge of what is likely to come rather than what has been done. Savvy marketers can use this information to take advantage of the window between searching for a destination and booking travel.
Messaging once that window has closed could be a waste of impressions depending on your marketing objectives.
To take advantage of this opportunity, marketers need a platform that can manage these unique campaigns at scale and deliver insights in real time.
3. Learn all you can and act on what you learn
Perhaps the greatest strength of targeting based on intent data is the ability to see correlations between actions and outcomes. In the past, destination marketers relied on abstract metrics (visits to a site or requests for brochures) that provided no direct connection with travel outcome.
Today, destination marketers can see who is searching for their destination (or a competitive one), deliver targeted impressions before tickets have been booked and see how their campaign has improved lift.
Itâ€™s a radical departure from past approaches that relies on established metrics for success and a closed loop for analysis and further optimization based on results.
Destination marketers who have adopted these types of audience targeting strategies are quickly experiencing the benefits of this approach.
Travelers can be targeted based on destinations searched (including competitive destinations), past trips booked, travel party make-up (individual or family, male or female), booking lead times (number of days between search and actual travel) and many other characteristics and behaviors that can inform, influence and improve marketing strategies and campaign performance.
A well-executed audience-based destination marketing campaign can reach desired consumers with relevant messages based on their specific intent or travel booking behavior.
Advertisers can also use these campaigns to gain valuable insights about their audiences and measure performance beyond the click. The good news is that these platforms and products exist and are becoming more sophisticated every day.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Sylvia Weiler, general manager of the tourism division atÂ Sojern.
NB2: Beach billboard image via Shutterstock.