Cracking the Travel Booking Code — Digital Marketing

Search advertising continues to dominate travel ad budgets because it’s extremely effective at converting shoppers into buyers. But new research on travelers’ “path to purchase” suggests travel marketers should question this assumption, finding that earlier stages of the booking process may be equally influential.

— Jeremy Kressman

The longstanding focus of marketing efforts in the travel industry has been on the point of purchase.

That’s one reason why search advertising, which has been extremely effective at driving customers to buy, has always played such an important role. But based on the results of new research, we may need to give this assumption a second look.

The release of a new study from Expedia Media Solutions and comScore, which suggests travel buyers may be more receptive to ads earlier in the booking process rather than at the end, throws this assumption into doubt. The question for marketers to ask is this: are search ads more effective because they perform better than other types of advertising? Or do they seem better because it’s easier to measure consumers’ response to them? Read on for more analysis, plus the rest of this week’s stories.

New Study Says Ads Have Most Impact During Early Stages of Booking
Travel ad spending has historically focused on “direct response” tactics like search advertising instead of “brand” tactics like TV commercials. That’s one reason why Google’s search ad products continue to dominate industry spending: they help convert customers when they’re ready to buy. But are search engines getting too much credit for sales during a complex booking process? New research suggests travel marketers should take a broader look at the entire marketing funnel as they think about how to drive sales. 

How TripAdvisor Transformed from a Content Company to Booking Company
TripAdvisor has always been known as one of the world’s foremost travel review websites. But it wasn’t until recently, with the launch of its instant-booking feature, that the company began to move into the travel e-commerce space. This interview with TripAdvisor CMO Barbara Messing offers insight into how the company’s goals and strategy have changed as TripAdvisor has shifted more toward bookings. 

Qantas Tests VR App to Excite Passengers Pre-Trip
Virtual reality is a key area of interest for travel marketers, but many also worry about its scalability. One travel brand that’s embraced the possibilities of VR is Qantas, which just launched a new VR-focused app for Android and iPhone smartphones that previews various Australian destinations. Not only can users check out these destinations, but they can also book flights from right in the app. 

Carnival Launches New Digital Photo Tool With Facial Recognition
Carnival is adding a digital twist to its longstanding tradition of taking souvenir photos of guests during cruises. The cruise line is digitizing photos, enabling a new search feature and enabling facial recognition to help guests find (and hopefully purchase) photos more quickly. 

How Hotels Can Use AI to Help With Destination Discovery
Too often, the online hotel purchase process is easily commodified based on factors like price and location. This difficulty is a key reason why Leading Hotels of the World is using artificial intelligence to try and take back control of the booking process, using the technology to highlight the company’s unique destination experiences.

Source: http://bit.ly/2fHRF1b