Tuesday 26 February 2013

What do Twitter plan for the travel industry?

Hacked accounts and controversial law suits.  Twitter has been hitting the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.  However, with their newly announced Advertising API, revenues at the Social Media giant are set to soar.

According to eMarketer, Twitter ad revenues hit $259 million last year.  TechCrunch predict this could rise to a massive $1billion in 2013.

With Twitter set to make its inaugural travel industry appearance at EyeforTravel’s Social Media & Mobile in Travel conference in San Francisco next month, we examine what opportunities lies ahead for the travel industry.  

Twitter has a billion tweets every 2.5 days on every conceivable topic - including travel.  Through introducing an advertising API they aim to allow brands to "to run ad campaigns through the company’s API partners, rather than having to buy them through Twitter itself."

This will allow advertisers to buy more ads, run them more quickly and in a more sophisticated manner.  It will also allow for better targeted campaigns.  The value-add is the ability to productively and efficiently grow and scale campaigns,” a source said.

Twitter have already started briefing large social media marketing agencies, which help brands and big advertisers plan and buy ads on social networks like Twitter.  

What does this mean for travel brands?  Well, many airlines and hotels are successfully using Twitter particularly as a customer service and engagement tool.  But, will they see the value in purchasing advertising?

Well, Twitter advertising could potentially help them extend their reach as interestingly, 70% of Twitters 200 million monthly active users are based outside of the U.S.   The advertising API allows brands to launch global campaigns across different geographies. 

Whether travel brands will be interested in purchasing advertising remains to be seen.  It also remains to be seen how users will respond the greater infusion of advertising into the social network.

Would you advertise via Twitter?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!  

Want to find out more?  We’ll be quizzing Twitter themselves during their inaugural travel industry appearance as well as gauging the travel and hospitality industry opinion at EyeforTravel’s upcoming Social Media & Mobile in Travel conference in San Francisco, March 18-19.  

Dan Greene, Director of US Online Sales & Operations fromTwitter will be joining Facebook, Google, Uber, and Cathay Pacific to share Twitter’s views on the future of social business and what it means for travel brands.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

There’s “No I(T) in Team” For Travel Companies, Is There?

It’s not actually that often that we hear from the IT and Tech folk within a travel company. Ie, the people who really make buying decisions on solutions and technologies. The focus of so many travel conferences, including most of ours, is upon the distribution, pricing and marketing functions of the business. With that in mind, I’ve spent the last six months talking to people working in this integral part of the business. It has highlighted a number of opportunities and challenges in this space which I truly hadn’t anticipated (perhaps naively, but still).  

With the launch of the first ever Smart Travel Technology Conference imminent, I thought it would be interesting to outline my top 6 current issues as described by CIOs and CTos in the travel sector. You’ll be surprised I think, as I was, at how many of these issues are shared across hotels, airlines, cruise lines, car hire companies, OTAs and more. So here’s the list.
  1. Who Owns The Data! This is something we covered at our recent Smart Travel Analytics Conference in NYC. It’s a big issue for IT professionals in the travel and hospitality sectors, largely because often they own the rights to systems, and they often act as “gatekeepers” to the data (although many dislike the term). This leads to internal aggravations when it comes to who has access to various databases and what actions they can take. The IT team are often in the centre of this web, and it’s a difficult position to moderate.  
  2. Innovation in The Future: In general, travel IT execs are pretty up to speed with new technologies for the travel sector. But! What about futuristic consumer technologies outside of travel like 3d printing, hologram TV, Google Goggles, ANW and interactive advertising screens? How can you stay ahead of the curve and your customerr
  3. Internal Struggles: It’s the name of this blog post and it’s a huge issue for IT execs. What exactly should the role of an IT professional working in travel be, and how can IT increase boardroom awareness of technology and IT related issues? These questions are just a few which came up in the research. Others include recruiting IT talent (and keeping it), working with other teams and more.
  4. SAAS Based Solutions: We’re Not There Yet! I remember back in 2009 when I started out in the travel industry that Cloud companies were everywhere, and it was the next big thing. Over the last year or so, conversation in this space has lessened at our conferences and other trade shows alike. However, the issue has never been more important as it is right now. With data warehousing becoming more difficult to find and more expensive, businesses are slowly starting to transfer to the Cloud. But with this transfer, come a lot of headaches- think moving databases in real time, privacy laws, hacking concerns and escalating Cloud rental costs for a start.
  5. Wifi and Bandwidth: Despite large scale technology expenditure in this area by most travel companies (particularly affecting hotels, airlines and cruises), wifi and bandwidth issues are still unfortunately very much afloat. IT professionals have been asking us, “how do you re-align your HSIA infrastructure for better customer service and also a fully backed up internal system?”
  6. Payment and Transactional Efficiency: Significant changes are afoot in terms of the way travel companies can sell to their customer. Compliancy and PCI regulation, plus strategic planning for payment related deadlines are all hot topics for 2013 and beyond.

I’ve covered here just a sample of things IT professionals are talking about in 2013. I have already admitted that I was extremely surprised to see not just so many new issues that I hadn’t anticipated, but also some issues which had perhaps “gone out of the limelight” in the news, but topics that were absolutely, wholly, still affecting travel companies on a daily basis. I’m excited to see what happens at the summit this October, and to meet CIOs and CTOs alike to discuss these topics in more detail.

Monday 11 February 2013

A Keynote You've Never Seen Before, in the Heart of Asia...!

Our most recent event launch - the 9th Annual Travel Distribution Summit, Asia (May 28-29th, Singapore) has some exciting new ingredients in the mix.  On top of the latest innovations and biggest speakers on Revenue Management and Online Distribution - the Kings of the Online World (Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Amazon) are collaborating to bring you an invaluable Keynote you’ve never seen before…

These  will focus on engaging customers through online channels, examining where you will see the biggest ROI and the future of the online supply chain.  Make sure you join your industry peers who will be attending 2013’s Summit and to discover through these brands exactly how to fuel your travel-strategy and win the always-connected travel consumer.

Day Two Morning Keynote: 9.00-10.30 Meet The Kings of The Online and Mobile World: Who Holds Your Consumer’s Attention?

Reaching and engaging with your customer is becoming increasingly difficult, not least of all because of the surplus of communications channels, touch points and competition. Hear from the gatekeepers of the online world as to how you can better interact with travellers, increase bookings and offer an unrivalled customer experience to build genuine relationships with your customers and inspire them to travel. Get expert insights into:
  • Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Amazon Web Services: how can you work with these brands to reap the rewards?
  • See how top online businesses find, nurture and keep highly active customers engaged through these channels
  • Where are your customers hiding online? On which channels do they enjoy travel related content and marketing?
  • Learn how to keep consumers in a world of choice and variety: repay your customer, drive brand awareness and encourage loyalty
  • Understand better the need for social media integration and brand responsiveness
  • Learn which human resources talent will you need in your online organisation to thrive
  • Technology costs and wrong investments could set you back $$$. Where should you invest to see the biggest return?
  • Relationships: As the travel supply chain continues to change, who will have the power and who do you need as a trusted partner?
Dhruv Parpia, Solution Architect, Amazon Web Services
Doug Stotland, Director Advertising Sales APAC, Facebook
Christian Cadeo, Head of Mobile SEA, Google
Hari Krishnan, Managing Director, APAC & Japan, LinkedIn
Aliza Knox, Managing Director, Online Sales, Twitter

You won’t see all the major controllers of your customer speaking in the same place again

To download the brochure to see which of the well established travel brands is joining the Kings of online world click here

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Apparently the online grim reaper is here again…. But it could be something else this time…

That “cheerful” publisher Plimsoll Publishing recently said 70 UK Tour Operators are looking like HMV (a once popular and now defunct Music store chain) and could soon fold.

When I read this I assumed that this would just be another example of the evolution of travel sales leaving the established travel business behind in terms of product and customer behaviour.

Plimsol Publishing concluded  "As seen with the recent closures and administration of big high-street stores, these were all victims of outdated business models. It's much the same in the tour operators market, the overall market is healthy, but these companies are falling behind.”

However if you look at what ABTA say it may not be the case. Recession hit Brits are going back to packaged products and the high street channel has seen a rise in 2012, with 27% booking through a high street agent compared to 25% in 2011

Now I have always understood that most organisations fail at the end of the recession. Could this finally be the case.  Travelmole reported yesterday that this market is seeing sales increasing at 7.2%, with margins sitting at 1.8%

But I am also seeing new trends impact the travel industry all the time. For instance our latest conference in New York was looking at how the Travel industry is using big data and analytics and it was a sell-out. I am pretty certain this would not have worked a year ago. Big data is now seemingly affordable, Social media is providing the insight you guys need and mobile is providing the channel to sell. The established industry has to keep innovating and those that will are going to do very well.