Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The value of data in uncertain times for travel advertisers

By Freddy Friedman, Managing Director, travel audience

2020 saw the marketing of travel become much more complex. Beyond lockdowns and other travel restrictions, COVID-19 has caused people’s trust in the safety of travel and their ability to even enjoy it to falter. In such a different business environment, how can Destination Marketing Organisations ensure their campaigns are successful as we work together to rebuild travel?

The answer lies, at least in part, in getting insights from data.  

Last year when demand for travel first began to sink as the global pandemic took hold, I observed an interesting trend in the search data of the online travel agencies with whom we had partnered. Although many people were unable to travel, the frequency of searches for travel remained high. Even in December after a new lockdown was declared in the UK, the daily search volumes for the Canary Islands were still on average 129% higher than they were in October. This is the kind of data that destination marketers – indeed marketers of all kinds – can use as we confront a year where the needs and wants of the end customer are very different than before. For travellers, this would include the passenger experience and the uncertainty of changing restrictions and regulations.

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) currently face a trio of challenges:

  • how to instil trust in their destinations
  • how to stimulate and grow demand for their destination
  • how to keep travellers informed and excited about their future travels

Data, combined with technology, presents us with a key tool to respond to these challenges. Using AI-powered profiling, we can turn large data-sets into meaningful insights based on when people are searching for travel and when they are hoping to book. With these insights, destination marketers can more successfully target and display ads to the right consumers at the right time. Artificial intelligence can be leveraged by any industry, but in my opinion, its use within the context of travel is fascinating and merits wider discussion.  

Last year at travel audience, an Amadeus company, we worked with Greek DMO Marketing Greece on its ‘Greece From Home’ campaign, a project for Greek National Tourism Organization launched in April 2020, which sought to nurture desire for Greek holidays. Around a quarter of the Greek economy is based on tourism, so it was crucial to stay abreast of what potential travellers were thinking.

Firstly, we used AI to flag travellers from Germany and Austria as highly interested in travel to Greece. Then Marketing Greece was able to target these customers during lockdowns with ‘stay home’ and ‘stay safe’ advertising that included imagery of Greece’s natural beauty, YouTube videos from Greek chefs, and blogs about the nation’s unique cultural heritage. When travel restrictions to Greece were relaxed in June, a new campaign called ‘Endless Greek Summer’ was launched to encourage travellers to turn their interest into a booking.   

Our teams worked with Marketing Greece on a weekly basis to make sure that the latest data intelligence was feeding the campaign. It was through this insight and a highly targeted campaign that we were able achieve some phenomenal results. We generated 892.897 impressions and 0,26% CTR for the display ads and 1.016.000 impression with amazing 0,73% CTR for the video in 7 weeks which resulted in a 25% market share increase for Greece when compared to other Southern European destinations.

Moreover, when one considers the destination’s market share of searches against competing destinations, Greece’s popularity steadily increased, reaching 25% by the end of July when compared with other Southern European destinations. The campaign targeting resulted in 43% of targeted travellers booking a trip to Greece within two days of seeing the advertising outreach. 

As the industry contemplates and explores new ways to recover, we’re convinced of the innate love to travel we all have. At travel audience, we are committed to working together with our customers, partners and the wider industry to rethink travel and inspire travellers.