Category Archives: Ad Network

Top Weekly Travel Ads: A Family-Friendly Summer

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As companies begin to gear up for family-friendly summer in 2014, travel ads use children and parents to capture a large and profitable portion of the traveling public.  Skift.com put together a list of the five top travel ads from the past week, which you can view here.

You may not have advertising budgets that allow you to create and distribute commercials like this, but capturing the family message is important because it is such a key travel demographic.

Priceline’s latest ad features William Shatner reprising his role as the Negotiator.  He plays the role of a protective parent after his daughter’s date books a room using Priceline’s no-bid Express Deals hotel booking tool.  Negotiator Rises

Disney Theme Parks is not marketing to protective parents, but they do encourage them to create unforgettable memories with a child’s first trip to this vacation wonderland.  Disney’s message is simple: Take your children to a Disney theme park if you want to make them happy.  Magical “Firsts” at Disney Theme Parks

Expedia’s new ad tugs at a parent’s heartstrings, following a young boy whose bedtime storybook seems to come to life when on vacation with his mom.  The ad encourages would-be travelers to discover their real-life fairy tales via travel.  Create Your Storybook

Getting the Most out of Deals and Promotions

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A great way for a company to focus on strengthening its awareness and garnering more followers on social media is to advertise deals and promotions.  Initiatives like this can be a push for short-term tactical sales growth.  They can also strengthen a major strategic message or unique selling proposition (USP), or simply raise awareness.  However, it is also important to deliver a high-quality experience with these deals and packages.

Carol Cork, the marketing director of PrivateFly.com believes that “Travel marketing is about experiences, more than just travel – there is a need to be disruptive and different.”  A successful digital travel marketing approach is to connect the brand with the reasons that customers travel.

PrivateFly.com combined strong content marketing and a partnership with Ski Verbier to create an amazing, all-inclusive ski experience promotion for the discerning skier.  Cork explains that it is not about selling a ski holiday.  Rather, it is about connecting the PrivateFly brand with target customers’ lifestyles and making it relevant and desirable.

Be Prepared

Here are a few things to keep an eye on when creating promotions:

-When finalizing a promotion, make the decision whether the campaign is a brand-building exercise or commercially driven.

-Offer travelers opportunities to buy an attractive value product while accounting for extra capacity.

-Underline the brand position/message while coming up with an attractive deal.  Some examples of this include find the lowest prices and smooth ways to confirm a booking.

-Target new customers, meet their current needs and match their propensity to buy.

Do’s and Don’ts of a New Marketing Campaign

Do:  Involve the team.  Marketing ideas and energy should be encouraged as widely as possible.  Members of a sales team, development team or finance team provide a vision not considered by a marketing team member.

Do:  Have a commercial lens.  It is important not to prize speed and agility over commercial success.  Create a criteria checklist to make sure your marketing campaign fits your target market.

Don’t:  Plan too far ahead.  Companies used to plan annual or semi-annual campaigns.  Now it is more about quarterly planning and a consistent flow of daily and weekly ideas.

Don’t:  Assume things are working when they are not.

 Some Tips for an Appropriate Communication Plan:

1) Deliver a message that is easy to understand.

2) Make the proposition an attractive one (whether financial or tangible).

3) Be relevant with the theme and content.

4) Ensure uniformity in communication across media channels and platforms.

5) Do not come across as just another deal or promotion.

Combining Business Needs with the Right Rewards

One thing that should always be considered when planning a deal or promotion is seasonality.  Campaigns should be worked out considering occupancy level, and key calendar dates; the validity of the period is always important.

When talking about rewarding customers, there always needs to be an element of benefit for the consumer.  This could be in the form of monetary saving or included amenity.  Overall, sustaining a structural approach to the execution of a campaign is crucial to remain feasible in operations.

5 Social Media Strategies for 2014

Taiga-Site_Social-Media-StrategyAs the calendar turns from 2013 to 2014, many companies have new goals and strategies ready to be implemented.  The evolving world of social media is no different.  However, the ultimate goal of those strategies remains the same:  to increase brand awareness, to enhance guest satisfaction and to drive revenue.

To help hoteliers reach these goals, Daniel Edward Craig, founder of the online reputation management firm Reknown, and his panel shared a list of social media strategies to adopt in 2014.

1. Identify and Target Social Media Personas

Historically, hotel marketers have been quick to segment guests into familiar buckets that commonly included group, transient and business.  However, these groupings are simply too broad to reach with a targeted, captivating message via social media according to RockCheetah’s CEO Robert Cole.

The who, what, when, where and how still matter, but the real question to delve into is why.  Why are travelers visiting a certain destination under certain parameters?  Why should they choose to stay with you?

To find those answers, it helps to create personas that represent a subset of travelers, giving each persona a name and detailed characteristics or traits.  Things to consider include age, income levels, interests and where your personas live.  With all of this specificity, marketers are able to tailor communications that are more likely to drive engagement with a specific cohort.

Although this example may represent a deviation from the high-volume aspirations of most hotel marketers, there is one thing to keep in mind:  You can’t be all things to all people on social media.

2. Integrate Paid, Owned and Earned Content

Paid content, including display ads, cost-per-click campaigns and online travel agency listings give marketers a high degree of control.  However, it typically has a low influence on traveler booking choices.

Owned content, such as a brand website, Facebook page or Twitter feed allows you to connect with a wide range of potentials customers, but still packs a rather feeble punch.

The third and most influential content is earned content such as user-generated reviews, views, media coverage and blogs.  Although traditional marketing has focused around owned and paid content, there needs to be a shift towards developing strategies around earned content.

To garner exceptional earned content, hoteliers must provide exceptional guest experiences.  Another way to encourage feedback is throwing out small pieces of content designed for engagement with guests and can be shared easily across multiple channels.

3. Make Reviews the Priority

Reviews, both good and bad, can be used as a tool to improve the guest experience for all of your future customers.  Imagine the type of reviews you want to have and become the hotel that inspires those reviews.

Positive reviews can act as a free advertisement for your property and encourage additional travelers to stay in the future.  If guests have negative feedback, changes should be made to remedy this issue immediately so that the same reviews are not recurring.

4. Get Social with Google

Google’s algorithm is currently placing an increasing emphasis on user-generated content, including reviews.  With the development of Google+ and Google Places, the company now has its own social media brand they can use in the search engine’s organic search results.  For example, if you want your hotel to feature more prominently, marketers should focus on capturing at least five reviews through Google+

Keep in mind that you can’t simply create a Google+ account and be done with it.  Like Twitter and Facebook, Google’s platform requires a constant stream of fresh content that will continue to drive traffic to your site.

5. Optimize Facebook for Graph Search

A number of recent changes have turned Facebook into a very important marketing tool for hoteliers.  Graph Search, one of the newer developments in the social network, is like a search engine within a user’s friend network.  For example, a user can use Graph Search to look for friends who have “liked” resorts in Cancun.

How do you get your properties showcased higher on these results pages?  The more guests who visit a hotel’s Facebook page, leave comments, take photos or just mention that page elsewhere, the more likely it will show up on Graph Search.

To see the rest of this list, click here.

Debunking Online Hotel Distribution Myths

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Erik Munoz, Siteminder’s head of strategic sales and global partnerships, shed some light on the truth behind many common myths in online hotel distribution.  Let’s take a look at some of this information focusing on online distribution channels.

Myth: Hotels Should Reduce Their Reliance on Online Travel Agency Bookings.

Munoz explains that there are many hoteliers who feel strongly about avoiding OTAs unless absolutely necessary.  Most of this stems from high commissions that these sites charge.  Although commissions can be high, many of these OTAs have larger marketing budgets which will help drive traffic and conversions more effectively than an independent hotel could to their own website.

For those markets that are geographically out of reach to the average independent hotel or regional chain, OTAs can be especially useful.  Emerging, local OTAs can be more effective channels to secure booking from outbound travelers in some markets.  If your hotel is not using these OTAs to market your property, you are missing out on bookings and revenues from these potentially lucrative source markets.

Munoz offers three keys when planning your distribution strategy:

1.  Make sure to select the right mix of OTAs on which to list your property.  The key here is not putting all of your “eggs” into one basket.  Try implementing a broad, far-reaching online distribution strategy.

2. Technology is an important part of leveraging the OTA channel most effectively.  Make sure you are not increasing your costs when choosing multiple, varied OTA sites.

3. Ensure you integrate your online distribution channels for maximum reach and minimal risk of inconsistent pricing or overbooking.

Myth: Metasearch is Most Useful for the Marketing Department, not the Online Distribution Team.

Historically, marketing and online distribution departments in many hotels have worked autonomously.  However, since metasearch providers started to connect directly to the hotel booking engine or CRS (Central Reservation System), the two teams now will need to work together in ensuring the best possible results from all channels.

A solid marketing team must be in charge of managing the pay-per-click and keyword bidding, while online distribution teams manage the live rates, availability and deep links from metasearch partners back to the hotel booking website.

Myth: All Channel Managers are the Same.

As online distribution becomes more complex, technology is being created that allows hoteliers to effectively manage online distribution channels.  Key components to look for when identifying the best channel managers include dynamic pooled inventory, two-way SML connectivity and self-mapping tools for faster speed to market with new offers.

Applying these core features from market-leading channel manager products will quickly make you realize that not all channel managers are the same.

Myth: The Global Distribution System is an Overly Expensive Channel that is Only Beneficial for Big Chains or Regional Hotel Groups.

The GDS is not only for big chains or multi-property hotels groups.  Regardless of your size, if you are a hotel in key corporate destination, the GDS channel can be an extremely lucrative booking source.  In addition, GDS bookings have a longer average length of stay and a higher average daily rate than bookings originating for other channels, as has been the case historically.

The perception of high costs from “middle men” that do business between the hotel and GDS booker, and the varying price models that exist from CRS and connectivity providers create a cloud that can be cleared up by doing some research before signing up with a provider.

Banner Ads – The Ripple Effect

Nobody clicks on banner ads anymore. Independent research shows that a decent banner ad will yield only 1 click per 1,000 impressions. That means if you blow through your marketing budget buying 1 Million impressions, you are still only going to get 1,000 clicks to your site. So banner ads are a waste of time, resources and money, right? Not so fast. Say hello to View Thru Booking.

The concept behind a view thru booking is simple: just because someone does not click on you banner, does not mean they did not see it. View thru booking then, is the measurement of bookings that come from an online shopper simply seeing your banner.

How it Works: Let’s say company A runs a banner ad on website 123. A user in turn views this ad but does not click on it. Two weeks later, that same user returns to book a flight, hotel stay, etc. Using view through tracking, company A would know that the booking was made by a traveler from website 123.

How to Set It Up: Start by asking your advertising partners to track view thru bookings for you. From here, simply place their tracking code from their ad server on your confirmation page before the campaign goes live. Scatter your banner ads across various sites (staying in the guardrails of your demographic) and monitor your ROI.

To read the full article, click here.