Five killer marketing strategies for travel in 2011

NB: This is a guest post by Anneli Ritari, senior strategist for travel at BigMouthmedia.

So the travel industry is continually being urged to consider mobile and social media as part of the overall marketing mix – but equally never lose focus on traditional online techniques such as SEO and paid search.

This minefield of data and options often leads to more questions than answers, but here are five killer marketing strategies that every travel company should have on their agenda.


1. Be authoritative

Search engine optimisation today is all about ART – authority, relevancy and trust. In order to become an authority in the increasingly complex world of search, companies need to supplement traditional approaches to SEO, where campaigns are based on research around historic search trends, by undertaking pre-emptive optimisation.

This killer strategy is about being the first to coin a new phrase or keyword, which results in Google ranking your site as more authoritative.

These days Google places significant emphasis on looking for ‘authority sites’ that come up with a new phrase or keyword, and sophisticated digital marketers will be spending at least  some of their time speculating over what the next big buzzwords will be in their sector.

2. Get mobile

Mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common internet access devices worldwide by  2013, and as a result every company needs to get ready for the mobile revolution.

At this stage, it is important to undergo a thorough research and strategy building phase to ensure that the subsequent campaign management and advertising undertaken maximises results. Mobile is becoming an important revenue driving channel, and travel companies need to put in place solid strategies around their mobile sites and advertising to become successful.

Many companies will also be investigating the  apps market, but even more important than having a great idea for an application will be coming up with an even better plan for how to market it.

With more than 250,000 apps available for download on Apple’s iStore alone, getting people talking about yours will be a critical component of any successful formula. Geared to maximise the benefits of your social networks, the launch plan should cover all channels and tap in to loyal customers first.

3. Borrow the best from other sectors

If they are serious about gaining the competitive edge in 2011, travel companies need to follow the example of other sectors and become more creative.

Many would do well to learn from the retail sector, which has been particularly inspired in its use of a raft of innovations from YouTube annotations to Twitter.

Examples of great video virals or social media campaigns from travel businesses are few and far between – perhaps because as an industry we tend to be too focused on ROI  – and, as a general rule, tend to lack the creative flair that has seen companies in entertainment and retail reap rich rewards.

Moving into 2011 social media will become an integrated part of the online marketing mix, and travel companies have to embrace innovations and creativity in order to become successful therein.

4. Get your social media measurements and metrics right

Currently travel companies are failing to measure the success of social media, and as more budgets are being allocated to social it is crucial to get the measurement and use of metrics right.

The most common mistake is that marketers fail to identify their objectives, focus on the most easily available metrics, and  ignore the most important metrics because they are hard to measure. There are a lot of different perspectives you can measure, and different stakeholders will need different metrics dependent on their role in the organisation.

According to Forrester Research, to properly value the impact of their social media marketing investments, interactive marketers must align their objectives, metrics, targets, and strategies across four perspectives – the financial perspective, the digital perspective, the brand perspective, and the risk management perspective.

The key is to define your objectives across the different areas of business that your social media strategy impacts and implement measurements that help to identify its impact.

5. Use Attribution Models to improve your online marketing campaigns

Currently most travel companies still deploy the ‘last click wins’ model when measuring the success of online marketing activities.

This model is flawed especially in travel as research is a huge part of the purchase process and, unless we understand the user engagement prior to purchase, we will not be able to understand the true ROI of our online marketing activities.

It’s time to implement attribution models, ie. attributing or allocating the value of a sale to the marketing activities that generated or drove it.

The goal of attribution is to understand what activities are actually working so that you can do more of them and change the activities that are not working well. Attribution models needs to be carefully designed as they certainly are not ‘one size fits all’.

Throwing out last click wins and implementing a complex and inappropriate model can be a pitfall. The key is to use analytics data to get a picture of how people interact with your website and use a technology that enable sophisticated attribution modelling.

As a result, the business will finally understand how their online marketing activities work at all consumer touch points, can optimise each touch point, budget accordingly and be more successful  in their online marketing.

NB: This is a guest post by Anneli Ritari, senior strategist for travel at BigMouthmedia.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are those of the author. and do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer, or tnooz and its partners.



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  1. Thristhan

    Fantastic tips, this should work a little for 2012 too, right?

  2. Umar

    Hey Anneli,

    Could you please throw some light on some strategies best applicable for apparel (fashion) retail.

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  4. Joe Buhler

    Contrary to Jumar’s opinion – probably shared in silence by a number of less vocal people in some of the more backward looking travel companies – I find this article of great value. The author covers the topic intelligently and makes solid suggestions that are essential for successful travel marketing. I would have chosen another word than the overused “killer” in the headline and replaced it with solid but that’s trivial.

    I especially second the opinion that ROI must be measured differently when it comes social web marketing and the necessity to start with clearly defined objectives. I also think the attribution model is necessary to really spread the credit or blame across a wider spectrum of tactics.

    Forward thinking stuff.

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  6. Harold Jumar

    this shit sucks

    • Kevin May

      Kevin May

      @harold – thank you for such a thoughtful, constructive comment.

      Feel free to share some similarly intelligent insight next time.

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  8. Travelbuzzr

    I couldn’t agree more! People are influenced by their everyday travel decisions by people who are directly familiar to them. They can do hours of research but ultimately, their travel decisions are being made from opinions and suggestions of other fellow travelers. http://WWW.TRAVELMYTRIPS.COM was formulated to give people just that! Check out this site! It has a lot of valuable contents and user friendly information to make travel decisions so much easier. It is easy to navigate for a beginning traveler and it is very straightforward. I think this will be the new virtual travel agent for all travelers.

    • Erica

      I enjoyed the Travel My Trips site. I thought it was very user friendly and I enjoyed looking at the trip videos. Great!


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