As the temperatures rise this summer, so do the number of individuals leaving home in search of new experiences. This season, travel is expected to increase more than 4.5 percent from last year, making it the busiest summer travel season to date as the economy rebounds. In fact, Adobe expects summer travel spending to increase to $65 billion this year -- 20 percent of which is coming from mobile devices.
While these positive figures seemingly would make an advertisers' life easier, the growing challenge is being able to captivate not just any consumer but the right consumer with less time to work with.
On average, more than 40 percent of U.S. leisure trips are four days or less and within 500 miles of home. Travel duration is not only relatively short, but the booking windows are getting shorter and more transactions are taking place on mobile while traveling. This includes last minute bookings of hotels, activities, and events.
To maximize a fleeting window of time spent preparing for, in route or on vacation making travel-related purchases, many brands are increasingly incorporating location-based technology for real-time targeting or for audience profiling. While the travel sector lends itself to location based technology, there is one powerful strategy many brands are increasingly embracing: the combination of programmatic plus dynamic content optimization (DCO).
For a stronger call-to-action among vacationers, leverage the right ad tech and strategies
Programmatic plus DCO maximizes the opportunity to convert these in-market customers right before or during their trips. By combining machine learning algorithms and data-driven creative, advertisers can more efficiently and effectively position customized content and offers to their audiences based on demographic, behavioral, contextual, and geographical needs. In addition to tactics like "last viewed products," where products are shown to users based on prior history, rules can be set up to show an advertisers' hot deals or local promotions based on geolocation (which may change by the day, or even hourly, depending on one's travels).
For instance, a vacationer with a long road trip on I-87 in New York is likely to have a greater propensity to act on a mobile ad for nearby hotel with free Wi-Fi off the Thruway than seeing this ad appear on their PC at work.
Alternatively, if they were far enough north in the state and near the Canadian border, ads for a Niagara Falls boat tour that pops up on their tablet while reading the morning news would have more relevance and likelihood of converting. This sort of city-specific mobile targeting helps ad campaigns amp up their call-to-action and this level of targeting generally garners 30 percent better ROI.
There is tremendous efficiency in marrying price information in real time from a travel-related entity such as an airline, car rental service or a hotel global distribution system (GDS) with creative and type of ad offer depending on hour or day -- especially when the time of day often correlates to what Internet-enabled device a consumer may be using at that point in time, or how strong a need may be (e.g., is it lunch time or bed time?). By tailoring the hotel location or flight deal in an ad, for example, based on previous search history and location -- DCO helps make a targeted offer more efficient and increases conversion rates. This is especially true when paired with the granular targeting made possible with programmatic.
Don't wait to the last minute to target your last-minute buyers
As travel marketers know, higher margin products like last minute hotel deals, tours, and activities, and even airline ancillaries like preferred seating, pre-paid Wi-Fi, and upgrades, provide a large revenue opportunity. Increasing conversion rates by even one percent on these products can have a huge impact on the bottom line.
As travelers travel -- and rates and offers change hour-by-hour and are synced in real-time with inventory availability -- it is critical to deliver the most compelling offer to the user based on a variety of factors including location, previous purchase behaviour, and even weather. Mobile users on a beach in 90+ degree weather? Ads for sunscreen are bound to be more successful than ads for thermal hiking gear. The ability to optimize thousands of variations of creative to deliver the highest conversion rates and target those ads programmatically to minimize the user acquisition costs is the proverbial Holy Grail for advertisers and marketers -- and exactly what DCO plus programmatic delivers.
Just as a consumers are set to take off this summer travel season, so can your campaign. By marrying programmatic and DCO with the right balance of mobile and geolocation technologies and strategies, advertisers can apply strategic, data-led methodology to ensure that the right message is for the right traveler -- whether the user is in a train, plane, automobile, or at the beach.
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