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How marketing in the travel industry will change in 2013

With Wikipedia shaking up online travel with WikiVoyage, things are already changing in this essential industry at the start of 2013. As travel becomes more and more accessable and more competitive, how marketing in this space has to become more savvy and customer centric.

But what is actually going to change and how are marketers going to shift gears in the upcoming year?

In our last week of trends pieces, we reached out to a few industry professionals to see what they think about the future of travel in the upcoming year. Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think will be a game changer in 2013.

Martha Pierce, Marketing Coordinator at Equinox

I expect to see more travel apps. Looking back to my comment about mobile devices, I think it's fair to say that since such a huge majority of people are reading on a mobile device, they're also probably shopping for things they see there, too.

Danielle Klein, Managing Director of 7 Heaven Media

Currently 148 million travel bookings are made online, increasingly on tablets. Real time data allows advertising to be responsive to traveller’s profiles and preferences; ads will subsequently react to consider flight timings, weather conditions or news agenda of their destination. I predict that this will evolve to a much greater degree in the year to come.

Carin van Vuuren, CMO of Usablenet

Mobile and multichannel adoption will accelerate in 2013 as travel and hospitality brands focus on deeper engagement that drives more valuable customer interactions. For example, we’ll see hotels push innovative on-property experiences that find ways to use tablets as a primary engagement channel.

Importantly, 2013 will see all travel brands try and figure out how to increase conversion rates from mobile traffic. This may be a challenge, however, as consumers often prefer to browse on mobile and complete their journey on the desktop. Additionally, social is likely to grow in significance as the travel booking process will be influenced by recommendations and reviews among the customer’s networks.

Tom Dibble, CEO Screen Pilot

Google will continue to disrupt and royally annoy the hospitality vertical that it has built over the years with it’s Google HotelFinder play. The business models behind HotelFinder basically make it Google's refined – albeit adolescent - meta hotel search play for 2012/13.  

It has a vested interest in scaling CPC revenues from OTAs and this means grabbing precious real-estate within SERPs, thus pushing down organic SERPs. Then from within HotelFinder, funnels the majority of traffic to OTAs. Conflict-of-interest or cash-grabbing nuisance for the hospitality vertical?  The next few months will tell.

Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Monetate Director of Corporate Communications 

Travel marketers have traditionally struggled to cross- and upsell travelers to additional, more expensive products. And most efforts require travelers to self-select products (e.g., Flight Only, Flight + Hotel, etc.) at the beginning of the search process, with subsequent efforts to maximize additional revenues through add-on services—throughout the entire Search/Shop/Buy process—remain underdeveloped.

In 2013 we will see more travel marketers develop strategies to improve the merchandising process, which has often lagged behind the retail industry, in ways that make it easier for travelers to find, consider, and ultimately book reservations and travel product.

Mark Simpson, Founder and President, Maxymizer

In 2012, the travel industry saw more business move online (and to mobile) than ever before. In 2013, these online travel and mobile bookings will collide with another major industry force: a rebounding economy. 

As expendable income trickles back into the pockets of consumers, more travel sites will follow retailer’s lead in a well-tested and optimized web and mobile experience—because if they don't, they will rapidly fall behind the curve.

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