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,
- 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: hotelreservations.com]
§ 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 Bit.ly
· 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 ratings.com, 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:
· For travel some great SEO has been done by
o oyster.com [for reliable guidelines, reviews, sitemap & bookings]
o Cheapticketsindia.com [have landing page for all airlines & have optimized those pages & variable URL structure]
o eon businesswire.com (adopts slightly black-hat techniques)
· Affiliate strategies: blog commenting, profile linking, directory submission for getting high traffic
· Good affiliate site example: stackthatmoney.com
· Good great travel sites: momentumindex.com, tnooz (great travel site with great content), alltop.com, iamai.in
[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?
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)