Travel advertising: Trends taking off in 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]

What’s in store for the travel advertising industry in 2015? If there’s one thing we love here at Strauss Media, it’s a good infographic. The folks at Expedia Media Solutions and PhoCusWright did not disappoint.

In 2015, expect to see:

Robust Growth: Travel display ad spend will top $395 million in 2015, compared with $366 million in 2013.

Increased Social and Video Advertising: Eighty-five percent of advertisers are using Facebook to reach consumers; a clear win when you compare it with statistics for Foursquare/Twitter promoted tweets (46 percent) and Twitter lead generation cards (45 percent). Additionally, the number of travelers who used online video for travel planning has steadily grown, reflected in the tripling in social and video ad budgets between 2011 and 2015.

Trends on the Horizon: Social ad targeting and retargeting technologies will be on the rise. Forty-six percent of marketers claim social media is effective at generating brand awareness, while 28 percent of marketers identify social media as useful in driving leads or purchases.


Is “dark media” ruining your marketing plan?

Cut-and-paste is a marketer’s worst nightmare and the very cradle of “dark media,” or digital content sharing that can’t be tracked using traditional methods. For example, if friends are making travel plans in a group chat via text, Mike might cut and paste a link to ABC Tropical Resort into the group text. The rest of his friends will follow the link and just like that, ABC Tropical Resort’s marketing director is unable to track the origin of these new clicks.

darkmedAn overage of 93 percent of internet users share content via dark media. What does this mean for the marketer? The ABC Tropical Resort marketing director won’t be able to accurately measure the true reach and engagement of her digital marketing campaign – and neither will you.

What’s a marketer to do? Put plainly, you can’t prevent dark media, but you can adapt to it. Realize that your statistics will never completely represent your outreach and focus on leveraging your existing strategy. A few action items can help:

  • Embrace dark media. Hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Shed light on dark media by highlighting this method in your communications and encourage sharing among your audience.
  • Continue focusing on your email strategy. Ensure there’s a subscription link so when people forward your email, their interested peers may also subscribe.
  • If you’re adamant about preventing the cut-and-paste epidemic on your website, you can use JavaScript coding to block web code from accessing the system clipboard.
  • Encourage the engagement of your choice by creating a contest and directing your audience to take certain actions (i.e. share your website using a specific code across their social media channels).

KLM, Airbnb team up for airplane sleepover

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 4.54.29 PMSpacious Airplane Apartment,” trumpets the Airbnb listing. In one of our favorite promotions of the season, KLM and Airbnb have combined forces to create a fun promotion to commemorate the retirement of one of KLM’s planes in Amsterdam.

KLM’s last MD-11 aircraft will be transformed into a small “apartment” where the winning bidder will spend the night later this winter.

After crossing the globe 3675 times, this beautiful blue and white jet will be temporarily available as a unique living space. Located right beside the runway of Amsterdam’s bustling Schiphol airport, our detached airplane comes with all conveniences and will truly be your home away from home… with a large living room, one master bedroom, two children’s beds, two kitchens and eight small bathrooms. It comes with Wi-Fi, a toaster, a coffeemaker, comfortable first class chairs, a game console and a giant cockpit panorama window.

“All-time classics” like Snakes on a Plane, The Aviator, Top Gun, or Disney’s Planes will be available for the winners to enjoy on the aircraft’s cinema system.

Multi-device mayhem: two-thirds of Hong Kong travelers book trips on three devices

Image by Toyotaboy95, en.wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

Image by Toyotaboy95, en.wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

If you’re a travel marketer, you’d better get your cross-platform strategy in order – and fast. A recent study found a whopping 65 percent of travelers in Hong Kong used three devices to book their flights.

Market research company GFK conducted a study among these travelers who would be making a trip during the following three months. The company sought to understand buyer behavior. How did the consumers purchase their tickets? How much time did they spend research their trip? What touch points were used?

Here’s what researchers discovered:

93.2% of respondents used a desktop/laptop to book their trip, two-thirds used three devices – but only 6.8% used just a tablet or mobile.

– Travelers spend five hours researching their trip, averaging 92 visits to 22 travel-related websites and apps before completing a purchase.

– Google’s the name of the game, as 91% of these travelers used a search engine to start their travel research. Touch points during the flight purchase path included travel aggregators and information sites (83%), travel booking sites (79%), airline websites (69%) and social networks (38%).

74% of respondents took action after they saw an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine. Over half of respondents said their travel plans were triggered by TV or radio ads. That’s your cue, marketers! Time to come up with some brilliant copy.

Need some ideas to jump-start your cross-platform marketing strategy? Get started with these gems:

  • Understand audience demographics driving each platform to tailor your content. Hint: Instagram is where the kids hang out and Facebook is friendly with the over-30 crowd.
  • Gauge the popularity of your content by tracking web and social media statistics. What links did your audience click on the most?
  • Activate campaigns that connect with actual people. Everyone likes an inventive marketing ploy, especially if they can enjoy it again and again on YouTube.
  • Empower marketing teams to pursue best practices. Get those high-impact creatives in gear to engage your audience.

Will your next flight be BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – as airlines offer streaming inflight content?


via CNN/United

Gone are the days where plane passengers squint at TV monitors five rows ahead, straining for the punchline in the latest Adam Sandler movie. Effective this April, United Airlines will stream inflight content directly to your iOS device on select aircraft. The initial rollout will affect Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 747-400 and select 777-200 aircraft. Nearly every plane in the fleet will have this new ability by the end of 2014.

With UA’s iOS app or a laptop, passengers will have access to more than 150 movies and about 200 TV shows. Though everything seems to cost money now – even those once-ubiquitous pretzels – the content will be free to enjoy.

Other airlines are getting into the streaming game, including Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, SITA, and Southwest Airlines, all in various stages of development.

Looks like your next personal carry-on item may be popcorn.

Astronaut tackles Pinteresting topic: space

International Space Station (ISS) astronaut Karen Nyberg is taking Pinterest to another level: outer space.

While astronauts have established popular accounts on other social media platforms – Chris Hadfield and Soichi Noguchi, among some notable users – this is the first time anyone has pinned from the ISS. What’s more, her use of the female-dominated Pinterest has the potential to inspire a lot of young women to reach for the stars. Read more below from the Daily Dot. – SS

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg may be back on Earth, but her time on the International Space Station (ISS) will never be forgotten—partly thanks to the Pinterest account she kept while living in space.

When Nyberg was first asked in May about whether she’d follow in the footsteps of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became well-known tweeting from space, she piqued the interests of many by mentioning her use of Pinterest. While Instagram, Twitter, and Google+ have all been popular among intergalactic travelers, Pinterest remained untouched—until Nyberg arrived and pinned plenty of updates revealing the daily life of an ISS astronaut.

“I was honestly hoping to draw in a group of people and share my excitement of space with people who maybe hadn’t thought about it before,” Nyberg tells the Daily Dot.

She’d been a Pinterest user for a couple of years before her time on the space station put her profile in the spotlight. Like most pinners, Nyberg likes the collection visuals, the easy search function, and that oh-so-popular infinite scroll and the plethora of ideas it reveals—all of this making it an ideal way to show those of us stuck at the ground her amazing view of the world… literally.

“When in space I was mostly pinning my own pictures. It was neat to see the comments and see that people were noticing them and interested in them. It was definitely a good feeling to get that positive feedback from folks,” she said.

Some of Nyberg’s photos received hundreds of re-pins from enthusiastic and excited followers. Her very last pin from space received 30 comments praising her efforts.

“Thank you for allowing me to experience a little space travel through your photos—You have no idea how much it means!” wrote Pinterest user Christa Crews.

While giving us all plenty of universal landscapes to pine over, Nyberg also took the opportunity to continue pinning one of her (and the rest of Pinterest’s) favorite hobbies: crafting. She shared a photo of herself sewing in space, as well as her projects. Case in point, the dinosaur she created for her son out of fabric from Russian food containers. She also created a Texas flag for her husband made of cut up T-shirt pieces stitched to a Russian food container liner.

Nyberg’s Pinterest use may have set her apart from the rest of her social astronauts comrades, but she also turned to Twitter and NASA’s YouTube channels to share her crafting—and even details like how to take care of your hair while living in space. Clearly, Nyberg is on board the social media-ization of our world, and everything outside of it.

“Some [astronauts] don’t enjoy it as much and so some might not be interested in doing it as much as others, but it’s good to reach out and share. Share the view more than anything!” she said.

NASA has been one of the most capable federal agencies to attack the social Web. The NASA Social team is a many-bodied, vast structure within the organization connecting ordinary citizens to its intense, amazing journeys. Its recent Twitter contest giving applicants to chance to connect with Internet-famous astronaut Rick Mastracchio, the flight engineer for the next space-station mission.

But while it’s easy for you and me to send a tweet, or post a status update, the logistics of doing that from space are more complicated. Nyberg said it’s a multiple step process to pin or tweet from the space station; if she wanted to share an image, she first had to remove the camera card and go to a computer with a local area network on the space station to turn it into a jpeg. Then she’d email it from her NASA on-board email to a personal email account and go to another computer and log in remotely to an Earth computer for an Internet connection. From there she could open the email, get the picture, and put it on her social media accounts.

Despite the challenge, Nyberg pinned and tweeted to keep her followers involved.

Will Nyberg inspire more astronauts to pin their explorations? That remains to be seen—but for now, she says her board will return to the stuff we’re all used to seeing circulate the network. You can expect to see some holiday decorating tips filling up her boards for a bit.

Photos via Karen Nyberg/Pinterest

KLM gets local with new employee-run Twitter account for travelers

It’s easy for companies to grow stale on social media – but not Dutch airline KLM, which continues to dominate social media. Its latest venture is LocalEyes, a Twitter account and webpage offering tips from local employees.

Every week, the company chooses an employee to take over the LocalEyes Twitter account and tweet about local traditions and culture, cozy coffee shops, hotel recommendations, and more.

This week features Stockholm tips by KLM employee Madeleine:

After a week, all the tweets are rounded up and posted to the LocalEyes website. The Twitter account is then handed off to the next employee for another dose of hyper-local recommendations in a new city.

Past KLM social media experiments include destination info mashup site MyDreamCatcher, social gifting service Wannagives, a space flight contest called Claim your space in space, and trip tips via a social graph-based application called Must See Map.

Kudos to KLM for keeping the travel industry on its toes.


How a 113-year-old brand saved Christmas (or at least invigorated its holiday sales)



Everyone knows The Polar Express, the massively popular children’s tale from 1985 that spawned the Oscar-nominated film. Less common knowledge: Lionel LLC, the 113-year-old toy company, is the only manufacturer holding the official license to release collectible Polar Express-themed train sets.

With the 10th anniversary of the film approaching, Lionel aimed to harness the attention of locomotive-loco fans with a marketing push from September to November this year, coinciding with the jingle bells (and jingling pocket change) signifying the holiday season. As an older company, Lionel had to get creative to breathe life into its brand. With this in mind, the marketing team developed a contest, entitled “I Believe,” to drive holiday sales while highlighting the visibility of the Polar Express brand and Lionel’s product line.

Railroad enthusiasts were rewarded for their efforts. Lionel gifted an official Polar Express train set once a month for three months, finding winners among those who participated on the company’s social media pages. Contestants socially engaged on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ or signed up for an email newsletter for a chance to gain a train. Lionel got an extra publicity boost from Warner Bros. as the studio promoted the sweepstakes on its own social media platforms.

The marketing project was a success: Nearly 70 percent of people who visited the contest page entered the sweepstakes.

Has your company ever run a social media-centric promotion? What were the results?

Where should you invest your marketing dollars?

You’ve got a marketing budget and you want answers: is email or social media a better investment in the digital marketing war?

Our friends at Hostpapa threw together email marketing and social media marketing for a few battle rounds to slug it out and analyzed the results to see who emerged victorious. Though email and social media both have their unique benefits – only 61 percent of Internet users access social media, for example, but email lags far behind in growth – who delivers the knockout punch?


Sixty Things You Should Know About Social Media in Travel

Via Tnooz, by Julie McNamee from Webnwords.

Here’s a selection of mostly social media tips that I picked up from World Travel Market in London this week.

Social media’s “Dirty Little Secret” (Social data)

Sarah Kennedy Ellis – Sabre Labs

1) Instagram is the place to be for brands – people engage with brands 40 times more on that platform than they do on Twitter, and 20 times more than Facebook. Great for brand engagement.

2) Photos aid conversion – another good reason for making use of Instagram.

3) According to Sabre Labs research, more men submitted photos with their check-ins on FourSquare than women.

4) 60% of smiley faces and exclamation marks were used by women on check ins.

5) Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a great research tool, eg for analysing the subject matter of a large number of photographs.

6) Small companies with small budgets can access 10% of Twitter’s feed for research purposes.

7) A good way of searching Instagram is by hashtag #.

Facebook – Future of travel marketing

Lee McCabe – Facebook

8) Facebook marketing is all about:

  • Efficiency
  • Multi-channel (across devices)
  • Identity

9) Facebook tools include Facebook Exchange – re-targeting within one hour of leaving the website.

10) Facebook Connect – for increased conversion rate with easy one-click logging in, plus lots of profile information.

11) The travel journey includes and is helped by Facebook:

  • Dreaming – is kicked off by viewing friends’ photos
  • Planning
  • Booking
  • The experience – is shared with updates and photo sharing
  • Reflecting – the photos kick off friends’ dreaming

12) Mobile’s is clearly where it’s at – an increasingly so in the future

13) 45% of the world’s population are forecast to have a smartphone by 2015.

14) For the first time, digital media consumption has overtaken TV in the US – driven by mobile.

15) There are 874 million mobile daily active users of Facebook.

16) Match the people on your CRM database with their Facebook profiles to find out more about them and connect with them.

17) Graph search is getting better at targeting hotels and restaurants that you really might like (with the help of friend recommendations).

How travel bloggers impact the booking funnel

Debbie Hindle – Four bgb

18) The traditional marketing funnel is: Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action

19) The new marketing funnel (c/o Xavier Blanc) is:

  • Reach
  • Engage
  • Activate
  • Nurture

20) Your customers don’t care about you as a brand. They care about themselves.

21) Content marketing = creating the information your customers are passionate about.

22) Example of an effective campaign is the #Feelmorealive campaign by adventure travel company Exodus – blog posts, photos, videos – lots of content by bloggers and lots of shares.


23) Another is the Liming Appreciation Society for St Vincent and the Grenadines – a group of bloggers invited to provide posts, imagery and video. 60% of searchers have viewed one of the videos before booking. The most popular post was shared 2,000 times.

24) Traditional marketing is about telling the world what a rockstar you are. Content marketing is showing the world what a rockstar you are.

Travel blogging

Keith Jenkins – Velvet Escape

25) The value of bloggers? Niche experts, personal experience, immediacy and an audience.

26) The booking funnel is:

  • Inspiration
  • Influence
  • The Final Nudge

27) As a blogger, one photo Jenkins posted (of ice floating) was viewed 2,000 times and resulted in four bookings for a travel company overnight.

28) Bloggers are good for giving tips and sharing ideas on where to go/what to do.

29) The feedback from people who have taken their advice is invaluable for the company concerned.

30) When engaging a blogger, have specific objectives in mind. What do you want out of the relationship?:

  • Brand exposure?
  • Online content?
  • To drive engagement?
  • To grow your social media followers?
  • To make sales?

31) Monitor the results of your blogging campaign by

  • Using tracking codes
  • Using vouchers or downloads
  • Using tracking systems
  • Keeping track of blogger posts

32) Agree the number of posts, tweets etc with the blogger before you start.

Nicholas Montemaggi – Emilia Romagna Tourism Board

33) Needed a way to make people more aware of Emilia Romagna, so came up with the idea of Blogville – providing an apartment for the use of bloggers from all over the world. The tag line was “Eat, feel and live like a local in Italy”.


34) Only cost to the tourist board was for the apartment – bloggers paid their way.

35) Master of the house present at all times to help and advise the bloggers.

36) Campaign carried out over 2 years – 120 bloggers and 500 blog posts, 3.8 million Twitter users reached and 700,000 visitors later…

37) Example direct benefit – a Chinese blogger went on a cooking course and wrote a post with lots of photos. The organisation who ran the course reported 2 bookings from China overnight!

38) Important: Spaghetti bolognese isn’t a real dish – it’s tagliatelle ragu! :)

Lee Stuart – Caliber

39) Bloggers bring authenticity and honesty.

40) Brands and PR companies should look for focused blogs – not necessarily big blogs.

41) Look at the kind of keywords the bloggers rank for – there’ll be a ready-made audience for your product if it fits that keyword.

42) Bloggers are hyper-local.

43) They can act as guides to your destination.

Are you mobile?

44) The cost of marketing an app is going to be much more (and much more important) than building the app.

45) Tip for the future – we’re going to be seeing mobile-only companies in future.

Social media masterclass 2013

Alan Young – TrustYou

46) 81% of online reviews are positive (according to TrustYou stats).

47) In the UK, 49% of online travel reviews are on, 37% on TripAdvisor.

48) The more reviews you have the more likely you are to benefit from them.

Debbie Hindle – Four BGB

49) Kuoni has wifi in its shops so people can check TripAdvisor when they’re discussing booking a holiday.

50) When coming up with your new holiday campaign, think about you want your customers to feel. Eg, how did you feel on your first holiday?

51) Viator have pages worth of information on each of the locations they feature. They have lots of useful stuff to keep visitors on your site and make it more likely you’ll book with them. They also reward customers with treats and rewards and have conversations with them.

Google and travel: Sharing best practice

Sarah McDonald – Google head of travel

52) Airbnb has a great guide to Brixton that gives lots of authentic, interesting information about the area.

brixton airbnb

53) The questions everyone asks themselves when choosing something.

  • Is this product what it says it is?
  • Is it right for me?
  • Is it at the right price?

54) Video can address some of these questions. For example it can give a street view from inside the hotel and a better feel for what your hotel is and where it is.

55) YouTube isn’t as good as Twitter and Facebook at helping consumers find relevant material. Brands should take not and learn to optimise videos.

56) An excellent site is Visit Brasil – consumers can make their own wishlists on what they want to hear about and the site will give hand back relevant information.

57) Have a common experience across all channels.

58) Use relevancy and urgency like the big hotel booking sites do.

59) The journey isn’t just online or offline – there are touch-points on both for a lot of people.

60) 89% of social media users share holidays photos while away – even if they don’t share the rest of the year. Connect with them when they do it and continue to talk to them when they come back. Reach out at every stage.

NB: This is a contributed article by Julie McNamee from Webnwords. Follow McNamee on Twitter.