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Online Marketing Tips for Travel Industry

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Travel Industry Online Marketing in OME, WMA Workshop Series Bangalore (2011) by Ankur

[Ankur is Ex-Travelocity employee]
  • Job happened by accident: a good one
  • Change of perceptions through travel- nationally,
  • internationally
  • Biggest Forex generator
  • Largest employment generators
  • US Travel Industry Impact
·         Why talk of travel?
  •  Online + travel : Married to each other
  • Often Online travel is very nascent & is often misunderstood industry [should come with a disclaimer like Cocaine]
  • Margin differs across differ travel ecosystems varies
  • Travel is mostly influenced by opinions of customers [ customer reviews]
  • Group booking still not a phenomenon on the net & amount to fraud
  • Online payment in India is coming up [ For example: booking by priceline, Travelocity for hotels; all with different business models]
  • Europe has higher internet penetration than in US [through Mobiles]
  • US depends more on meta searches or online travel agencies
  • Asia is still coming up & business is not as good as in US; this is due to infrastructure deficiencies
  • China is good; India is coming up
  • Details & stats about GDS [global distribution system]; a central travel booking system
  • Vietnam [dark tourism- will taper down with time], Indonesia [beach destination]
Online Marketing Drivers
o   Organic search[SEO]
o   Meta search
o   Email marketing
o   Social Media
o   Meta Search [Kayak in US;ixigo in India]
§  One site gives multiple rates; comparison
§  Have to go parent site to make final booking to parent site
o   Mobile marketing
§  The most searches are happening on Mobiles
§  Most companies make sure that their sites are m-compatible
Types of websites- destination & accommodation
o   Websites are classified: difference in the way they handle [own or out source] searches, Social media campaigns & payments
·         Catch in the story
·         The focus is on:
o   Website design & usability- [E.g. Hipmunk, AIRBMV]
o   Content & personalization
§  The most important because: SEO, have to be unique, Example:]
§  Personalization is essentially based on Semantic technology
o   SEO Strategy
o   Sunk cost Fallacy
§  Economic principle; growing good money after an emotion [Eg: angry bird]
§  Engage customers with some emotional attacher; so that they book from your site
o   Social Media Strategy
o   Conversion Strategy
·         Should be the foundation of all above strategies
·         All visitors need to convert
o   Partner Marketing/ Affiliate Program

Real life case studies discussion by Shartaj, Ranjan, Sumathi, Husaina Rajesh & Swati

Free Photos are available at:
·         Creative commons

Suresh Babu: Presentation on “Social Media for Travel”

·         Klout- a score aggregator; popular in blogger community
·         Creative use: It is a score that gets  a person- hotel & airlines discounts
·         Foursquare: Mobile game where a customers check in, it understands location of the person & is used by businesses to attract customers.
·         KLM & Social media: how they  used
·         Case studies from Suresh at
·         Career  path….from other industries to Online Marketing
·         Process map of Social Media [Vayama]
o   Plan to get rid of the negative reviews
o   Split all steps based on: customer support, time , location, method of handling,
o   Example for Gilmore Gang’s  case study for handling negative feedback to neutral
o   Uniqueness of content on a travel portal
·         Examples for New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Carnival, Lucky 13, Internship, Grade fund, Best job in the world, NKrazy – Social Media pages
·         Google insights, Google trends, Back type : Comments from anywhere from the web
·         Comprehensiveness/ small details of travel information to a new place are required; those kind of content need to be generated

Shartaj: Presentation on “Online Travel”

·         Online travel websites that might work in India & are already popular in the west:
o   Hipmunk
o   Yapta
o   Zozi
o   SPLenDIA
o   bloomspot
·         For travel some great SEO has been done by
o [for reliable guidelines, reviews, sitemap & bookings]
o [have landing page for all airlines & have optimized those pages & variable URL structure]
o   eon (adopts slightly black-hat techniques)
·         Affiliate strategies: blog commenting, profile linking, directory submission for getting high traffic
·         Good affiliate site example:
·         Good great travel sites:, tnooz (great travel site with great content),,
[Sharry Used the formula Related: website name]
Questions & Answers- July 2011 OME meet
Q: Whose are the largest ecosystem generators of travel?
·         A: Direct & indirect generators
·         Direct ecosystem & job providers: Airline, transport, car rentals, hotels
·         Indirect: Airports,
Q: Please elaborate on the 1st two bullet points- Global Forex & Employment
Q: What are Online & offline travel industry?
Q: Scenario in Thailand & Singapore?
A: The scenario is as follows:
·         Predominant travel company: Zuji in Singapore
·         Singapore has lots of disposable income
·         Has  outbound business; so innovation is necessary
·         Multiple options have to be given to attract customers; offline & online marketing have to married
·         Expedia is coming up in the city
Q: How is the scenario for Travel business for startups in India?
Q: Can u not directly interact with the Airline for bookings?
A: No a GDS is in place for such purposes;
Q: Saber is used; Does it have the highest interactions?
A: Yes
Q: Online travel agency in India & multi stock packages. Do they work?
A: In India, individual deals work better than package deals
Q:  What are merchant inventories, merchant models etc.
A: They concern Hotel Industry bookings
Q: Hotel is placed on a website basing on bookings, deals or performance?
A: Depends on Managers/ management; Landing pages are SEO optimized
Q: Does revenue comes to hotels; is the inventory offloaded?
Q: What are the earnings/margins during online transactions [E.g: airlines & hotels]
A: 3-8% for hotels margins; airlines differ from airline to airline
Q: How has the online travel growth been in India?
A: Packages get sold; individual deals sell are better here
Q: Price aberrations between Online travel agencies & the parent website. Why?
A: In India, it is taboo; In US it is common. Some examples were given
Q: Growth of Zoomtra in comparison to Exigo
Q: How does the online travel industry build offline relationships with the hotels & airlines?
·         A: It is an extensive process; differs across countries;
·         Process that is carried out through managers
·         Direct or through consolidators
·         Go one after the other; this is tedious
Q: How open are airlines & hotels for these online concessions?
A: Depends on the business model; depends on the consolidators or marketing managers; automation is done in most foreign countries; it is most heterogeneous in India; elsewhere it is more homogenous
Q: Call centers. Are these E-commerce?
Q: How is the commission fixed? What are the roles of travel agencies in fixing rates?
A: Depends on travel marketing models
Q: Are all hotel rates monitored manually?
A: yes by marketing mangers
Q: How easy are train & bus bookings?
A: It is volume based business; not much margin; number of bookings are done by online travel agencies;
Q: Do the above depend on any market drivers?
A: In India, such bookings are no brainers
Q: What strategies have you used?
·         A: In terms of product- building landing page that could be used as SEO site, Social media sites,
·         APIs were refreshed every hour to avoid bounces
·         Married Google maps with hotels & packages
·         Used strategies to get landing pages on the top of to search engines: chose right keywords, ran a fresh deal on Social media daily; gave freebies with every booking; no. of fans did not define  the social media success, but conversions do.
Q: Which affiliate networks are doing well in Asian markets?
A: CJ is doing well in South East Asia; DJ in India
Q: How does customer satisfaction in leisure travel in India differ from out of India? Everyone wants something extra with every deal?
·         A: Any difference is myth; the challenge is in people’s perception. Indians are adaptable & live with what is adapted outside
·         The differences lies in the mentality, age, location & nationality factors
Q: How can u battle the completion of an individual travel site/ airline parent websites with all online travel agencies?
A: USPs have to be brought out, special features/discounts introduced etc.
Q: What is the revenue out of affiliate marketing?
A: In UK market 40 to 50 K pounds per month
·         Case Studies: Bill Gates website
·         Brands do not care for their own website as they have the attitude that “people will come to us” & they don’t realize the potential of the market
·         New trends in India: Voucher codes
·         Long tail keywords work these days in travel industry
·         Build URL & website based on popular long tail keywords;
Q: What according  to you is a best conversion rate in FB ads?
A: impossible to say (varies greatly)
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