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Travel Marketers, Time to Look Beyond Social When it Comes to Mobile

The travel & tourism industry slid into the digital era like a hand into a silk glove. Travel content intrinsically encapsulates beauty, storytelling, and social reviews, all seemingly tailor-made for a world dominated by hashtags and FOMO.

But as digital continues to evolve and focus shifts from awareness to customer acquisition, travel marketers must seek channels beyond social media to solve for all the various ways consumers use mobile to research, plan and experience their vacations.

According to SmartInsights, “43% of travel companies named “targeting and personalization” as the top priorities in their digital strategy”. Yet, they also claim that “only 25% of companies are focused on mobile optimization of their online properties”.

In a mobile-obsessed world, this limited focus on mobile optimization is startling. An Opera Mediaworks survey of 1,000 US mobile users found that mobile is the most popular platform for travel research and booking. 66% of respondents preferred their smartphones to desktops.

And this trend is on the ascent. eMarketer predicts that digital travel bookings on smartphones will rise from 57.5 million in 2017 to 77.6 million in 2021.

For airlines, mobile apps are used for everything from bookings to flight status:

Once the vacation begins, very few people unplug. TripAdvisor found that “85% of American travellers reported using their smartphones while on holiday”. Broad access to inexpensive roaming means that smartphones are now considered “essential to the travel experience”. Looking up attractions, restaurant reviews, and directions is commonplace.

The mobile revolution is showing up in digital ad budgets across the industry. While search still dominates spending at 53%, social, video and programmatic spends are on the rise, along with an emphasis on retargeting.

While interest in social and video advertising is well deserved, programmatic native is largely absent from recent industry reports. It’s time for the travel and tourism industry to look beyond social when it comes to mobile optimization, targeting, and retargeting.

Travellers are visiting innumerable sites outside of the “walled gardens” of major social platforms, and often conduct personal research on regional or niche publications based on their destination & interests. Cross-device solutions such as native advertising reach across mobile and desktop to find these users at the moment they are conducting said research, and integrate into their browsing experience.

This smooth integration is illustrated by click through rates up to 10 times higher than that of programmatic display. It’s simply the most effective way to generate user pools for retargeting, promote valuable content, capture leads, and increase sales by leveraging all of the diverse sites consumers visit while planning, booking, and enjoying their hard earned holidays. It’s 2017, time to think outside the Facebox.

*Click to enlarge images

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