A few days ago came this very interesting report, produced by L2, a Think Tank for digital innovation, in collaboration with ISM Travel Lifestyle and the George Washington University School of Business. This study attempts to quantify the digital competence of 89 global airline, hotel and cruise brands by looking at the effectiveness of their internet site, digital marketing strategies, social media effectiveness and mobile strategies.
The following are my preferred highlights from this report:
- 87 million Americans book their travel through internet, yet the industry only dedicated 7% of its marketing budgets to digital channels;
- Although 2/3 of customers say they are influenced by online user reviews, only 9% of the brands in the report offer reviews, or any form of user-generated content, on their sites. What’s more, in the past year, traffic to sites that incorporate user reviews grew 24% versus 7% for those without reviews;
- However, 70% of US hoteliers monitor guest reviews on their own and third-party sites weekly at a minimum;
- Nearly 40% of travel brands fail to incorporate video on their web site, only 28% have some form of social sharing and just 20% incorporate the Facebook Like button;
- 78% of brands registered Facebook as a top 8 source of referral traffic, and on average Facebook drove 7% of the total traffic to brand sites;
- 90% of the brands recorded Facebook as a top destination site after leaving the brand site!
- During the first quarter 2011, travel brand Facebook communities grew an average of 20%;
- All but 8 brands maintain a YouTube channel, using it mostly as another platform for television commercials, flight safety demonstrations and promotional videos;
- 90% of the brands in the study maintain an email marketing program, which remains one of the highest ROI marketing tools;
- 56% of brands have a mobile site, and 48% have a smart-phone application;
- 9 of the 10 most followed travel brands on Twitter are airlines!
Travel Marketing Examples
In the last part of the report, there are a series of great examples of brands that showed digital travel marketing savvy, including KLM, Mandarin Oriental Hotels, Intercontinental, Delta, American Airlines and more.
Now one can only wish a similar report will eventually be produced for the Canadian travel landscape, as there is very little mention in this study. Only Air Canada gets a mention in the Social Media section as one of the top 10 fastest growing Twitter accounts, ranking 6th. But what about Westjet? Porter Airlines? Air Transat? These brands would certainly show up in a Canada-specific study, so we’ll keep hoping for such a report in a near future.