December 16, 2010

Report: Understanding online travel marketing trends


The standout statistics from the bigmouthmedia Online Travel Report 2011 indicate that enthusiasm for the nascent social media and mobile channels is set to continue unabated, with social strategies taking a larger share of budgets than email marketing for the first time.

While the travel sector has continued to be amongst the worst affected by events in 2010, the standout statistics from the bigmouthmedia Travel Report 2011 indicate that enthusiasm for the nascent social media and mobile channels is set to continue unabated, with social strategies taking a larger share of budgets than direct email marketing for the first time. Meanwhile smart phone enabled enthusiasm for mobile grows, with 28% planning invest in apps development and 22% looking to build mobile sites over the course of the next year.

"The industry has been forced to cope with a rich variety of challenges ranging from exploding volcanoes to a stuttering economy over the past year, but our research shows that across the travel sector, these setbacks only appear to have increased companies' enthusiasm for digital marketing in general and the social media in particular. With the need for budget transparency and accountability becoming ever more important, the measurable nature of digital is fast making it the dominant channel," said Anneli Ritari, Senior Travel Strategist at bigmouthmedia.

According to the report, which surveyed 78 leading travel professionals from bigmouthmedia's client base, parent group LBi and the readership of Tnooz, digital's share of the overall marketing budget looks set to continue to grow - from 56% in 2010 to 60% in 2011 - with some 85% of companies planning to increase their spend in the months ahead. While the majority intend to do so by means of a direct investment, some 33% will transfer the funds across from traditional channels.

As might be expected Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and comparison search engines have the largest budget share devoted to online marketing at 90%, while airlines and hotel companies have the lowest proportion allocated to online spend, with around 30% in 2010. However, this figure is set to increase to 33% for airlines and 38% for hotels in 2011.

An explanation of these trends may be found in the fact that satisfaction with ROI is increasing, and that many businesses are indicating that much effort will go into improving their measurement in 2011. Some 58% of those polled said that they intended to introduce attribution modelling to calculate ROI for their online marketing spend in the year ahead.

Ritari added: "Although the travel business' adoption of digital marketing techniques continues to improve, the industry can still learn from the example set by other sectors. Examples of great video virals or social media campaigns from the travel sector 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."

Download the full report at bigmouthmedia (PDF 532 KB)