DR's Getaway1 Nov, 2008 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
Perhaps one of the most unique and exciting direct response marketing verticals is the travel industry. Maybe it's because travel marketers are veterans — DR has been a major part of advertising getaways for the past 10 years. In fact, according to a JupiterResearch study, travel search marketers are the most strategically sophisticated in driving online activity and spend significantly less on search than marketers in other industries.
DR marketers take a vacation from traditional online advertising and instead bring brands directly to where consumers are engaging in the travel experience.
Or maybe what sets travel apart is the sophistication of the consumers. About 33 percent of consumers online are searching for travel information. Now, with all of the reward redemption offers and discount travel packages available, the consumer has the upper hand in knowing when to take a deal and when to move on.
Or, perhaps, it's that travel is seen as a consumer right, not a privilege. It breaks down geographical boundaries and conjures up fond memories of visits to see family and friends.
So while the travel industry may have taken a hit from gas prices and the economy this year, agencies, airlines, hotel chains and online travel will continue to pump dollars into direct response marketing. Especially online, where 35 cents of every dollar is spent on travel.
There is a definite formula to travel DR. Marketers know that after a destination is picked, the next step is how to get there and where to stay. Also, there are certain seasons when travel is more popular. This predictable data helps marketers to create targeted, timely messages. But there is still the challenge of zeroing in on audience segmentation, since travel appeals to such a large demographic.
"Target audience consideration is a big issue," says Susan Williams, director, direct response, American Airlines (AA). AA flies to 250 cities in 40 countries around the world. "You can't market to everyone, so it needs to appeal to your target audience. In aspirations, you want people to be there so you've got to have a balance of price point and appeal."
Bigger and Better Loyalty Programs
After dealing with years of blackout dates and unusable points, travelers are savvy to the pitfalls of rewards programs. So now offerings have to be bigger and better than in the past. However, loyalty programs, when done right, are still great channels for DR marketing.
"Reward points are used to retain loyalty from customers for traveling with us," says Williams. "They help us for CRM (customer relationship management) and brand building, and then we have them in a database that becomes a tool."