December 17, 2019

Six Ways Travel Marketing Will Advance in 2020

With more than $8.8 trillion dollars flowing into the travel and tourism market every year, it’s no surprise that brands and agencies in this industry tend to be ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative marketing efforts.

As among the first to embrace and capitalize on new technologies and marketplace shifts, travel marketers often lead the way for brand leaders in other industries each year. 2020 will be no exception.

Here are some key areas where travel marketers will be leading the charge on strategic and tactical innovation.

Taking a full-funnel view

At a strategic level, 2020 will be a pivotal year when it comes to shifting away from transaction-focused media plans to ones that take a more holistic view of fueling the full funnel.

Travel marketing has been heavily focused on closing the sale through retargeting ads and other lower-funnel tactics over the past decade.

However, as competition increases in these lower funnel channels, and promotional costs rise correspondingly, travel marketers are going to focus more on diversifying their media mixes. Expect to see more travel dollars spent in the earlier stages of the customer journey, as a way of growing demand and consideration.

After all, travel is a high-ticket, considered purchase. Meeting potential customers throughout their journey is essential to ensuring long-term sales growth and driving brand loyalty.

Deepening content and influencer partnerships

The emphasis on content partners and influencers in travel will continue to rise in 2020.

After all, these are the publications and people to which travelers turn when they’re considering a trip and looking for inspiration and advice on where and how to plan their journey.

By aligning with respected publishers and personalities, travel brands can both garner high-level awareness for their brands at the top of the funnel and be well-positioned to execute on short-term campaigns by amplifying their messages through these partners.

Many travel brands have already employed influencer tactics within their marketing mixes.

But as awareness and consideration become more highly prioritized among their KPIs, travel marketers will expand their campaigns to deeper, longer-term engagements that build relationships with publications’ and influencers’ audiences over time.

Connecting commissions to customer quality

As partnerships deepen among travel brands and content partners, the way in which they prioritize and reward these relationships will evolve as well.

More and more, customer acquisition through partnerships will be rewarded not based on the sheer number of customers reached and acquired, but rather according to the quality and ultimate lifetime value (LTV) of those customers.

Within the world of affiliate and partnerships in which I work, technology has responded with commissioning systems that reward partners on LTV, gross margin, occupancy rates and more.

Harnessing deeper mobile metrics

Travel marketers will rethink how they’re tracking, measuring and attributing engagement and conversions within their customer journeys.

Now more than ever, that means getting a handle on the mobile component of the journey on media and partner properties - an area that has been sorely lacking in most brands’ attribution planning.

But given the rise in mobile bookings, combined with the shift to greater reliance on partner marketing channels, these connections will be essential for proper campaign optimization.

Cracking down on fraud

While the success of digital travel marketing including partnership is exciting, it also attracts the attention of unsavory operators.

A travel brands look to understand true ROI and reward their most profitable partners, they will need to make a concerted effort to weed out fraudulent activity within this channel. That way they can ensure the right partners are getting credit for every legitimate transaction.

This is particularly critical for travel marketers in China and Southeast Asia, where app and other fraud is among the highest in the world.

Making loyalty more experiential

Finally, just as travel marketers have always been pioneers when it comes to boosting customer lifetime value through loyalty programs, they will continue to lead the way here by transitioning these programs for the new customer reality, where experiences can often trump discounts.

Increasingly, travel loyalty programs will shift from simple points-based, buy-five-get-one scenarios to more immersive, customizable loyalty rewards programs that speak to customers’ lifestyles rather than just their appetite for discounts.

The rest of the marketing world will be watching the travel space for signals as to what’s to come next in their industries, and travel marketers will not disappoint.

In 2020, it will be about expanding horizons, building new partnerships, locking down cross-device attribution once and for all - and building deeper customer relationships all the while.

Copyright 2019 Northstar Travel Group. All rights reserved. From By Lauren DeMetro, Partnerize.

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