Top 7 Solutions Digital Marketers in Travel Are Seeking in 2019
In the digital age, travel marketers must find ever more innovative and compelling ways to advertise the services their companies offer if they are to compete for eyeballs on the internet. However, in an online world, travel marketing is about more than just being creative with content. From channel integration to the rise of voice search, digital marketers in travel must become experts in a widening variety of fields - and data is the driving force behind them all.
Let's consider the top seven digital solutions travel marketers are seeking in 2019 and look at some of the third-party companies they're leveraging to provide them.
1. Data Security
Booking flights, accommodations, and transport for travel is becoming far easier and much more accessible thanks to the technological advances of online booking. But with this ease comes big threats to data security.
Phishing scams, adware, and spyware are some of the most common menaces that digital travel marketers are facing - and if a company suffers a breach, it's not only the trust of customers that becomes compromised but those of industry partners, too. A recent report from Accenture - the Accenture Strategy Competitive Agility Index - quantifies the impact of trust on a company's bottom line, and it's significant.
Accenture summarizes the findings: "The Index uncovered that 54 percent of the 7,030 companies in our analysis, spanning 20 sectors, experienced a material drop in trust over the past several years. As a result, affected companies will experience, on average, a 6 percent decline in revenue growth and 10 percent decline in EBITDA growth. For a US$25B travel company, that translates into a loss of US$1.5B in future revenue."
Cyberattacks and scams that target travel customer information are widespread. Why? Because the pickings are rich. Passport IDs, social security numbers, credit card information - travel industry data is indeed highly sensitive and personal, rendering it essential for travel companies that do business online to have robust data security systems in place. Thankfully, there is a wealth of high-quality vendors out there that provide them.
IBM, for instance, offers Cybersecurity for Travel and Transportation with a range of security solutions spanning AI-powered threat hunting and detection, incident response, and cloud security. Accenture itself also supplies data security solutions that can be utilized by companies in the travel industry, as do the likes of Protegrity and Thales Security.
Data may be the fuel that powers the modern digital travel marketer's engines - but that data needs to be protected, and travel companies need to select the right security partner to make certain it is.
2. Data Integration
Digital travel companies have data flowing in from all manner of different applications and sources, including the company's website, its blog, its ad campaigns, social media pages, CRM system, customer service records, purchase history records, and various MarTech solutions and applications. All this data tells travel marketers an awful lot about their prospects and customers - but legacy systems have created data silos.
Marketing is, of course, responsible for attracting, engaging, converting and retaining customers as they move between a growing number of digital touchpoints. However, in order to realize the true value of all the customer data these journeys generate, it needs to be connected to provide an accurate, full, and single view of the customer.
Data integration solutions collect, organize, and synthesize business and customer data from a wide range of sources in order to identify bigger trends and paint a more complete picture of the customer. Knowing precisely how customers behave as they move between two or more touchpoints helps digital travel marketers understand who their customers and prospects are and ensures that the right message can be delivered.
Today, digital travel marketers know that data integration can make or break their marketing analytics. So - what solutions are available?
Alooma provides a complete data integration solution that organizations can use to bring all their raw data together in real time for secure, real-time insights. SnapLogic's Intelligent Integration Platform harnesses data from structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data sources to provide companies with the rich insights they need to turn big data into big value. Other vendors, including JumpMind, Boomi, and Snowflake also provide powerful data integration solutions that digital travel marketers can utilize to gain a single, unified view of their customers' activities and purchasing journeys.
3. Channel Integration
Channel integration is the practice of connecting all points of engagement with customers across multiple channels. Today's travel customers engage with brands through websites, social media, email, instant chat services, voice, phone, and more besides. What's more, these customers want to be able to switch between channels with ease and demand a seamless experience when doing so.
Optimized channel integration ensures that customers and prospects see the same messages and the same branding across all touchpoints they encounter when engaging with a brand. It also enables marketers to understand which channel or channels is/are preferred by each customer, and which provide the best opportunities for conversion.
Channel integration isn't easy to accomplish - particularly if the organization is dealing with legacy systems that don't support it. There are, however, a number of solutions and vendors on the market - including ETP Group's ETP Integrator, as well as Visionet, and Boomi -which provide omnichannel integration solutions that can be utilized for digital travel ecommerce.
4. Marketing Attribution
Marketing attribution is an extremely useful and valuable practice. Put simply, it is the process of giving the credit of a conversion to a marketing touchpoint. In doing so, marketers can identify precisely which campaign, ad, blog post, social media post, or other digital marketing asset was responsible for the customer conversion.
In this way, marketing attribution reveals the true story behind every customer journey and eventual sale. It provides answers to key questions. Where did a prospect first encounter your brand? What prompted them to take the next step? And what, ultimately, persuaded them to buy?
Recent research from Shopify reveals that along with modernizing tools and technologies, creating a shared single view of customers, and unifying data sources, marketers today are prioritizing optimizing the marketing mix for the best return. As such, they are also revamping their marketing metrics, with 41% now using marketing attribution modeling as a measure of ROI.
Marketing attribution also places true value on marketing campaigns, channels, and touchpoints. Perhaps your social campaigns are falling flat while your email marketing is responsible for 75% of all holiday bookings. Perhaps it's the precise opposite - without marketing attribution, you'll never know, and you'll never know how to optimize marketing spend accordingly.
Powered by Google Marketing Platform, Delve offers a comprehensive marketing attribution solution. "The ability to tie your media performance through to conversion and understand with concrete metrics where to shift budget for optimal return, is the fundamental definition of Marketing Attribution," says the company's website. "Google provides 6 platforms to measure Marketing Attribution, including Google Attribution (free) or Google Attribution 360 (paid)."
Alternatively, Singular provides a powerful marketing intelligence platform with campaign analytics and cross-device attribution, and Altitude by Impact delivers omnichannel insights and flexible attribution modeling to help you make informed decisions on how to best allocate marketing spend and drive growth.
5. Reporting Suites
Reporting suites and marketing dashboards are important tools in the modern digital travel marketer's arsenal. These are the reporting tools that display marketing analytics, KPIs, and all other important metrics using data visualizations. They are designed to provide marketing teams with a real-time window into marketing performance.
Much like the dashboard on your car, a powerful real-time marketing dashboard reporting tool allows you to drive towards your goals with ready knowledge of what's going on under the hood. This type of data visibility means you can make course corrections to your campaigns on a daily if not hourly basis, rather than monthly or even quarterly as is typical in many organizations.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular and powerful reporting dashboards available. There are alternatives, however, including Social Media Dashboard and Marketing Dashboard offerings from Cyfe, as well as reporting automation solutions from Supermetrics and Analytics Canvas.
6. Behavioral Analytics
Understanding who the travel customer is, how they arrive at your brand, and why they make the purchases they make is a huge challenge for travel marketers - but delving into behavioral data can reveal identifiable patterns, trends, and individual customer preferences.
Understanding behavioral data through behavioral analytics enables travel companies to better target groups of customers through personalization, make sure supply matches demand, and stay competitive, relevant, and profitable. Behavioral analytics is essentially the science of tracking and analyzing what customers do online, how they act and react to content, brands, and campaigns, and how they behave on different platforms and devices.
Digital travel marketers can use this data to inform everything they do - from content campaigns to customer service and brand strategy. In this way, they can provide the tailored, personalized experiences that today's customers expect. Travel companies that want to personalize their offerings to customers need their behavioral data in order to do so. Indeed, demographic information only reveals so much - a travel company won't know that a particular customer likes to book a vacation every September to a different European city based on their age, gender, or nationality alone. Behavioral analytics, on the other hand, reveals such patterns, meaning digital travel marketers can then use the insights to deliver personalized messaging, recommendations, and offers to the right customer on the right channel, and even on the right device.
Amplitude provides a behavioral analytics solution that surfaces detailed information about how users behave inside websites and mobile applications, and Domo offers a data analytics platform that delivers key customer insights that can be used to understand behaviors and personalize campaigns.
Conversational commerce and marketing are fast-growing trends. Social media, instant messaging platforms, and live chat windows on websites have all been driving this growth for some years already - but now with the growing prominence of virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, consumers are getting accustomed to voice-driven interactions with brands as well.
Digital travel marketers are seeking AI-powered conversation bots across text-based chat (chatbots), smart speakers, and phone answering to resolve customer queries, increase personalization and engagement, and drive both direct and indirect sales.
For customers, planning a holiday or a trip requires extensive research and careful comparison. To do so, they spend time online prudently considering their options. They read articles and do a lot of clicking around searching for the best deal. But they have questions that need to be answered while they're doing so. What are the travel insurance procedures? What are the departure times for the flights? Can my whole family sit together? Are there children's facilities at the hotel? Brands need to be present during each step of the customer journey and have the solutions in place to answer these questions whenever and however a customer wants to ask them.
"Essentially, conversational commerce acts as an extension of the existing customer service model," writes President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Co-Founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality, Alan Young. "For example, if your hotel or travel brand only has one method of customer service and communication (i.e., via phone), you're likely less equipped to respond (adequately) to an influx of customer queries, complaints/concerns, orders, etc. With the new inclusion of apps and chatbots, brands are broadening their net to 'catch' those interactions — prospective and current customers can engage via phone, email, website form, message app/text or, in some cases, in-person."
To retain digital audiences and prevent prospects from clicking away to competitor sites, travel companies can now utilize conversational commerce solutions to enable live engagement and real-time interactions. Over.ai provides voice AI solutions across phone answering and virtual agents. LivePerson delivers an AI-powered conversational commerce platform that makes it easy for customers to get answers to questions via messaging channels they use every day. And Next IT powers conversations through chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants for conversational AI success.
Travel marketing is evolving, and behind every solution - be it channel integration, marketing attribution, or AI-powered conversational commerce - data is the fuel that fires the engines. As the travel and hospitality landscape changes, achieving an accurate customer view to deliver highly-personalized experiences will only become more crucial. In a competitive marketplace, consumers expect to connect and interact with travel brands seamlessly across multiple touchpoints, channels, and devices. As such, marketers need to provide true omnichannel experiences - and, above all, they need data analytics tools and dashboards to connect the dots in order to do so.
Digital marketing solutions are set to be a hot topic at Digital Travel Connect US 2019, taking place this October at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.