International Online Travel Report

The trend to book travel online will naturally continue in 2012 – especially in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil. In line with this trend the share of the online segment compared to the total travel market is expected to increase to almost one third worldwide, according to the latest “Global Online Travel Report 2012” by

However, in 2011 the value of the US online travel market was still higher than that of Great Britain, China, India and Brazil combined. and in 2012, the “Online Travel Segment” is forecast to represent almost a third of the total global travel market value. The UK is projected to remain the largest share of Europe’s online travel market in 2013, followed by Germany and France. Gross bookings on the Asia Pacific online leisure/ unmanaged business travel market are expected to increase by more than +30% in 2012 compared to 2010. More specifically:

Online travel arrangements continue to gain in popularity across the entire American continent

Compared to 2011, revenue generated in the US online travel market is forecasted to grow in 2012 by a low double digit percentage figure. Clients who bought travel products online in 2011 made most purchases through online travel agents amounting to almost 50%, followed by search engines and websites of tour operators. In the category mobile bookings, hotels were booked most frequently, followed by flights and travel packages.

In Canada, in early March 2012 Expedia was the leading travel website: it generated twice as much traffic as the second placed website Flight Network. In Argentina particularly younger people tend to book travel arrangements online; however, internet use in this area is growing across all age groups.

Online travel sector is especially successful in Europe

In Europe the total number of bookings through online travel agencies increased by almost 20 % from 2010 to 2011. In Great Britain, more than half of all consumers avoid traditional travel agents altogether and book their holidays online instead. In Germany, in 2011 customers preferred travel agents for more expensive travel arrangements and online booking for cheaper tours. In this sector online revenue has grown considerably, while offline revenue has decreased. In France revenue generated with online travel bookings grew between January and September 2011 more than the total B2C E-Commerce revenue. Additionally, in 2011, B2C E-Commerce revenue in the category “Travel and Holiday Accommodation” was higher than in the next four categories combined. Almost half of all Italian online customers booked their accommodation online in 2011, making this the strongest category within Italian B2C E-Commerce. In Russia almost 50% of all passengers had purchased their flight on a travel website, while nearly one quarter had booked tickets via phone.

Growth potential in large parts of the Asia-Pacific region

Although growth in the category online hotel bookings is expected to slow down in the Asia-Pacific region between 2010 and 2012, it still exhibits double digit figures. In Japan the share of online travel bookings – in line with the soaring trend – surpassed for the first time 50% in 2010. Unique visitor numbers for travel websites were evenly distributed across all age groups in Japan, while the group of individuals older than 55 was slightly in the lead in the first quarter of 2011. In China in 2011, only 14% of all internet users had ever visited a travel website, but online travel bookings are expected to become more popular there too. The Indian online travel market is also estimated to grow by almost 30% in 2012. The data for Australia is outstanding: the category “Travel, Accommodation, Memberships or Tickets of any Kind” was the most popular online product category in June 2011.

Online travel market in the Middle East is catching up

Spurred by the introduction of online payment options, the online travel market in the Middle East is expected to grow considerably compared to 2011. Growth is predicted for the share of online travel bookings in relation to total revenue generated with travel tickets until 2015, compared to 2010 figures.

Source:, Photo source:

Alternative Joint Marketing Initiatives- Get Inspired!

We really like seeing fresh marketing initiatives inspired by authentic destination characteristics and products and powered by a collaborative spirit with a purpose.

The  Alabama Tourism Department released a CD with the top 11 songs from the Year of Alabama Music Songwriters Contest, to be used in a new marketing campaign focusing on road trips; Jordan Tourism Board, developed an innovative marketing initiative, collaborating with travel bloggers in order to utilize their blog content on Jordan for a new marketing campaign;  while the country also partnered with Google in order to advance its online search visibility. Presidents’ Passport is a joint marketing initiative designed to showcase the early American history and culture of Charlottesville region along with its close connections with important US Presidents.

Alabama Road Songs for Tourism

After a state songwriters’ contest linked to the Year of Alabama Music,  the Alabama Tourism Department released a CD titled Alabama Road Songs, featuring eleven songs from top competitors. The disc was officially launched on December ’11, with an event where songwriters featured on the album presented their songs and shooting accompanying videos.

The Alabama Tourism Department sponsored the CD and the title and artwork was created to coincide with the 2012 tourism campaign “100 Alabama Road Trips”. The songs are about Alabama and were written by songwriters who live in or are from the state. All tracks on “Alabama Road Songs” deliver positive messages about the state and extol its virtues. What a great way to emphasize your tourism product!

The cover of the CD shows a 1953 baby blue Cadillac parked near a pier on Lake Guntersville. The photo represents the road trips campaign. The inside cover features a car tag and the Cadillac along an Alabama highway. An insert provides a photo montage of all the songwriters on the CD as well as the lyrics to the songs.

“We wanted to create a CD that people could listen to in their car while traveling in Alabama,” said tourism director Lee Sentell. “The songs are all original and provide a taste of the talent that our great state has to offer.”

Jordan Digital Marketing Initiatives

Jordan and Travel Bloggers

In the past couple of years, the travel industry has started to take more notice of the value of travel bloggers and the promotional support they can provide through their blogs and social media channels. Developments in 2011 have seen tourism boards and travel brands around the world organising blog-trips and innovative campaigns in collaboration with bloggers.

The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) announced in December a unique marketing collaboration with travel bloggers. The concept, called iambassador, is the first of its kind involving the tourism board and eight travel bloggers who have visited Jordan, leveraging the bloggers’ published Jordan content and their social networks.

The bloggers were hosted by JTB on an individual basis, with customized itineraries created to accommodate the preferences of each blogger. Each blogger was invited to create his/her own experience and blog about it with full editorial control. For the two days, they shared their experiences of the country with their readers and followers.

The campaign made more than 40 million impressions on Twitter, with over 1 million people reached. Many of those tuned in to the #GoJordan hashtag shared their experiences in Jordan.

The campaign also marked the launch of a special microsite dedicated to all the writings that all the travel bloggers that have come to Jordan in 2011 have posted. The special Postcards from Jordan website features postcards from the bloggers, a special message from each of them, and all their posts, categorized by blog or by experience. The campaign is innovative in that it goes beyond the standard industry practice of hosting press trips and breathes new life into published writings about the destination.

Each of the 8 created a special Jordan page, highlighting the country as a Featured Destination. The pages will highlight their posts, the new Postcards website, and their reasons why they recommend Jordan as a travel destination to their readers. In 2012, JTB will go past awareness and focus on the special needs and experiences that travelers are looking for and will collaborate with different bloggers to highlight the many aspects of these available in Jordan with specific projects targeted at the different travel niches.

Jordan and Google

Another partnership to support tourism in Jordan was a Google deal also announced in December.

Ten government entities will use Google services to advertise and promote Jordan as a destination for tourists and investors over the next three years under the $10 million deal.

The local organisations will purchase keywords from the Internet search giant that will highlight their websites in search results, and Google will reinvest 25 per cent of the $10 million in the Kingdom’s IT sector, under the agreement.

The minister added that Google will provide intensive training to the Jordanian entities on the best methods of online marketing, underscoring the need for these organisations to improve their web content in order to provide user-friendly services.

“This is about finding people interested in what you have. If people can’t find you on the web they’ll go somewhere else. By purchasing keywords, you present yourself,” said Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, Google vice president for southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.


Presidents Passport

Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau (CACVB), Monticello and Montpelier announce a cooperative marketing program designed to encourage tourism to the greater Charlottesville area starting in late January 2012.

The program, “Presidents Passport,” is supported by over $180,000 in marketing partnership spending from the CACVB, Monticello, and Montpelier including a substantial grant by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) for $50,000.

The Presidents Passport campaign is designed to build on the excitement surrounding the opening of the new landmark Smithsonian/Monticello exhibition opening in D.C. and encourage visitors to explore the extensive history and “intersection of rural lifestyle and urban sophistication” in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and surrounding areas.

“The passport program brings together two historic sites—Monticello and Montpelier—as key destinations for visitors wanting to continue the conversation about early American history and slavery. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the landscape of the presidents and soak up the rich historical and cultural offerings of the surrounding area,” said CACVB Executive Director Kurt Burkhart.

“A partnership between Montpelier, Monticello and CACVB offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the significant relationship between Jefferson and Madison and explore the impact of slavery on their world,” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “The passport is designed to capture the attention of visitors to the exhibition in D.C., and offer them a deeper exploration of the topic by coming to our area, where they can immerse themselves in history, and enjoy all that we have to offer.”


Digital Marketing Initiatives for Increased Targeting

Google & Visit Florida Digital Marketing Cooperative Program

Google and Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing organization, have partnered on a digital marketing cooperative program that spans display, video and mobile, the companies said on Dec. 12.

The partnership enables Visit Florida to work with businesses in the state’s tourism industry to run ads targeted to travelers who view content across the Google Display Network, YouTube and on mobile devices through Google’s AdMob mobile platform.

The ads will be cobranded by Visit Florida and its partners. Visit Florida will match every dollar a business spends to run ads via the program,” said Sarah Travis, head of travel for the Google Online Sales group. Advertisers will have access to premium placements through reserved inventory and will run on weather, travel, news and women’s interest sites, Travis said. Additionally, ads will be geotargeted to consumers in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Detroit, Dallas and Washington, D.C, she said.

Travis said that cooperative marketing programs for destination marketers have historically run offline through print media, but a study conducted by Google earlier this year found that 85% of consumers cite the Internet as their primary source of information when making travel plans. She added that 20% of hotel queries are made on mobile devices and consumers visit on average 17 different sites when researching their travel plans. “Each one is an opportunity for destination marketing organizations to influence [consumers] to visit their destination,” Travis said.

Online media is a powerful way destinations can reach consumers during the travel planning process and shape interest in their destination. Businesses and CVBs invested in the Florida market can participate in this program to grow their brand and reach travelers as they plan across websites, video and mobile devices. Campaigns will span across premium content on the Google Display Network, YouTube and the Google AdMob mobile platform. The fully integrated co-branding package is part of a strategic push to reach a national audience and key markets to inspire travel to Florida.


Tropical North Queensland Targets Adventure Market

NORWEGIAN backpacker Eline Bekkelund Hole is the bright face of a social media campaign to lure more free and independent travellers to tropical north Queensland.

She is travelling around the region after winning a $4500, 11-day adventure which includes all accommodation and tours plus a return bus trip from Sydney. “I am delighted to have won the adventure which I will be telling everyone about on Facebook,” Ms Hole said. “This is a dream to dive on the Great Barrier Reef as well as doing all the other exciting things.”

Backpacking Cairns Association is promoting the Cairns Epic Adventure on its Up Top Down Under website, launching it at the recent Backpacker Adventure Travel Expo in Sydney. Passions of Paradise chief executive officer Scotty Garden said the campaign was about positioning Cairns as the No.1 destination for this vital segment of the tourism market.

“More than a quarter of the people who attended the expo heard about it through social media and Backpacking Cairns is using the same medium to make Eline the face of a backpacking campaign to entice people to the region,” he said.

Passions of Paradise is one of 17 operators to donate tours and accommodation to the campaign which will see Ms Hole diving on the Reef, hot air ballooning, bungy jumping and whitewater rafting.

Singapore Tourism Board  Launches Differentiated Marketing Campaigns

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) just launched its series of differentiated marketing campaigns, starting with the New Discoveries campaign in Beijing, China. This has been tailored to suit the needs of consumers in China. In the coming months, customised marketing plans will be rolled out in phases across other key markets, including Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The new approach, which is focused on addressing consumer needs, marks a departure from the destination marketing strategy that STB used to employ across different markets. The consumer marketing approach has resulted in more targeted and integrated marketing campaigns that will comprise PR, above and below-the-line advertising and digital marketing.

“In the past year, we have deepened the understanding of consumers in the various regions. This has allowed us to develop strategies that are customised to the needs of individual markets. By understanding consumer needs, we can create and deliver better quality experiences to visitors. This is a natural evolution of the YourSingapore destination brand that emphasises the personalisation of experiences. We believe that this visitor-centricity will increase the appeal and relevance of Singapore, and help build a stronger brand in the long term.” said Ms Sophia Ng, Executive Director, Brand and Marketing of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Earlier this year, STB embarked on various in-market engagements with consumers and trade which have provided an increased understanding of the consumers from these initial launch markets. This, coupled with STB’s market knowledge gleaned from years of operating overseas, enabled the team to develop customised marketing plans. With these insights, STB will also work with industry partners, both locally and in the markets, to develop and package more meaningful destination experiences.

Chinese Consumer Insights & New Discoveries Campaign

From conversations with various consumers and trade, STB found that whilst Chinese still come on packaged tours, many are increasingly making their own online bookings and travelling as free, independent travellers. More significantly, they sought a greater depth of travel experiences that include new, unique experiences.

“The New Discoveries marketing campaign leverages this consumer insight in order to enhance our engagement with the Chinese audience. Singapore is a city that is constantly evolving and renewing itself. On top of what consumers already know of Singapore’s well-known tourist attractions, we want to help Chinese deepen their understanding of our city, providing them with compelling reasons to visit Singapore again and again.” added Ms Ng, “Not only do we want to share the new experiences that Singapore offers, we would also like to encourage our Chinese visitors to look beyond the surface and uncover for themselves the hidden gems.”

STB has also partnered with three major travel agencies in China to launch a series of New Discoveries packaged tours. In addition to pre-arranged flight and accommodation options, these free and easy tour packages come with a fully personalisable itinerary. The New Discoveries launch event was held at Beijing’s edgy 798 art district with home-grown celebrity Stefanie Sun playing her part as Singapore’s Tourism Ambassador for Greater China by sharing her favourite spots in Singapore. In the coming months, the campaign will also feature local Chinese advocates at various PR and communication touch points, including social media platforms such as Sina Weibo, Douban and Renren to reach the Chinese audience.


Study Snapshot: Mobile Search of Growing Importance in Travel Marketing

A recent study of general consumer behaviour by Google with Ipsos OTX found that 71% of smartphone users carried out a search because they had seen an ad either off or line, while 74% of offline shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones (presumably researching as they wander about).

In the hospitality front, according to Google, 19% of all hotel queries in search are being conducted on mobile devices, supporting the idea that mobile is now more important than ever in travel marketing.

For the travel and tourism sector, some interesting data from the study points to the importance of localisation in search.

Searching for local details is carried out by almost all smartphone users (95%), but most interestingly 88% of those searching for local information “take action” within a day, presumably to visit a website or an actual venue.

Furthermore, 77% have conducted a business after using mobile search for local information, with 61% calling and 59% visiting the premises of a local business.

The stat also backs recent data from eMarketer which suggested the number of US consumers, for example, using a mobile to research travel products will climb from 19.7 million in 2010 to 29.7 million by next year.

Despite Google’s potential ulterior motive, such data is pretty compelling and travel companies are being urged to consider mobile in the same way as perhaps they interact with consumers on the web-based journey:

  • Dreaming
  • Research
  • Booking
  • Experiencing
  • Sharing

As far as mobile travel content is concerned a global survey of 1700 people carried out by Frommer’s, revealed the top six types of mobile travel content that consumers want when on holiday.

The most important function is seeing points of interest like attractions, restaurants and shops on a map (57%), followed by key phrases in local languages (55%), local offers (51%), itineraries and walking tours (50%), local etiquette and customs (49%) and tipping and currency converters (45%).

Interestingly, the 18-34 age bracket expressed an increased interest in accessing information related to local etiquette and customs and it ranked as the third most important type of content for this age group.