Bridging The Gap Between Travel Consumers And Marketers

By Drew McCalmont, VP Product Strategy & Operations at Tapad

Understanding travel consumers and their purchasing process is certainly not a day at the beach for marketers. A travel consumer’s journey is extremely complex due to a number of factors. First, it’s important to consider the reasoning behind travel consumers’ interests and behaviors and how they differ across devices. Are consumers researching upcoming trips to take soon or dreaming of a future “bucket list” journey? How long will it take them to actually book a trip? What devices are they using to research their options and what devices are they using to book travel? Travel marketers need to view the entire panorama of possibilities. 

In order to successfully achieve a holistic view of consumers, it’s necessary to analyze both an individual’s interest, intent and conversion behavior across multiple devices. By doing so, marketers can create an accurate behavioral model. The goal is to achieve targeted scale and increased efficiency for marketing campaigns. Developing this type of model helps pinpoint prospects across networked devices.

To avoid overlooking key markers that can help identify consumers across devices, always consider the broader landscape, and make sure to pay attention to key elements that can paint a clearer picture of the consumer. 

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Plan a memorable trip: Customize using cross-device data

More than 71% of consumers have three or more devices, and 31% of consumers switch devices when discovering, researching and purchasing products. While many travel brands know this, it will be increasingly important that they tailor content based on the consumer’s device preferences, which has been proven to increase conversion rates.

According to a study from the CMO Council, higher response and engagement rates are the number one reason to utilize personalized content. However, customization can only go so far if it is based solely on a person’s current device behavior. Without an understanding of the consumer’s previous behavior across all devices, you get a narrow view of who they are and set yourself up for missed opportunities. 

Pick the right destination: Frequency cap at the user level

As travel booking becomes more competitive and consumers become more impatient with the process, potential customers are increasingly likely to abandon their search. It’s important to remember consumers will not only grow fatigued by repetitive ads lacking personalization, but marketers will also miss critical opportunities to convert those consumers.

While most marketers understand the importance of frequency capping, it's equally important to understand the person behind the data and not take any of your interactions with them for granted. Simply applying a frequency capping strategy at the user level rather than the device level can reduce wasted spend significantly.

Pack your bags and start bidding: Look for “standby” device inventory

Retargeting segments in the travel industry are notoriously expensive due to the relatively high ticket value of conversions and the fierce competitive landscape. An easy opportunity to increase conversions efficiently is to take a retargeting pool of device/cookie IDs and reach those same people on their other devices.

For example, if a traveler goes to Hotels.com on their laptop and searches for five-star hotels in San Francisco, every online travel agency, aggregator and operator is now going to retarget them across the web with hotel offers given the pixel-firing frenzy on most travel sites. Rather than entering the fray and paying a massive premium to target this traveler on that same laptop, savvy marketers with cross-device data can target them on their other devices, such as their mobile phone or tablet. Consumers’ purchase intent is still not as widely known on non-computer devices, therefore, they can be targeted much more inexpensively.

Despite increasing mobile adoption for online purchases, most travel consumers still prefer a laptop or desktop computer at the point of conversion. Based on this insight, widening your initial campaign from desktop-only to include other device types — followed by secondary strategic messages on desktop — is a more effective way to keep the consumer moving forward.

The travel consumer journey is complex and full of twists and turns. Marketers can map out a better route to connect with consumers by getting to know their behavior and cross-device habits, revealing the person behind the data. Those who do so will reap the benefits of a well-planned marketing trip.

(Originally published on MediaPost)