The weather outside is frightful, the Caribbean is so delightful, and there’s no better time than now to book your next getaway. How are you going to begin planning? Many travel-hungry consumers are starting with their mobile phone.

In our increasingly mobile-first world, no industry has been left untouched — especially the travel industry. Consumers are now their own travel agents; researching flights to faraway destinations, curating their own itineraries, and comparing deals on everything from rental cars to boutique hotels, all with a couple taps on their mobile device.  

While all of this may be good for consumers, it’s made the work of travel marketers much more challenging. Successful travel marketers are now tasked with knowing where each traveler is in the customer journey, and how to present relevant and timely messages to push the traveler through the path to purchase.

These challenges are far from the only ones that today’s travel marketers face. The travel industry is notorious for it’s low profit margins, and the real value of a traveler is not necessarily in the initial conversion, but in the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer. Cross-sell and upsell opportunities are critical to the success of online travel agencies (OTA). Which means a greater need for keeping up with travelers’ wants, and employing successful retention strategies to bring them back for future needs.

How do you capture the attention of your audience on this new mobile path to purchase?

At Kenshoo, we believe it’s critical to know what your customers are interested in buying, and how to get them to buy more from you in the future.

What are your customers interested in buying?

One way to find out is through their search activity. Search is one of the best ways to understand intent and identify an audience that is in the stage of actively planning their next trip.

You can capture this intent with Kenshoo’s Intent Driven Audiences (IDA). With IDA, a custom audience is automatically created by matching the cookie of the searcher to the Facebook User ID, allowing you to reach that user via Facebook Ads.

Let’s use an example to illustrate. John started to plan a trip to Fiji by searching “Flights to Fiji” on Google and clicked on an ad that led him to the fictional TravelNow website, where he searched for flights to Fiji in March. John was cookied and a custom audience was created in Facebook for “Flights to Fiji”. John’s cookie information was then matched with his Facebook User ID, and he was retargeted with an ad on Instagram a day later showing cheap flights to Fiji in March from TravelNow. John then clicks-through to purchase the flight to Fiji via TravelNow’s secure mobile check-out.

By retargeting John on Instagram with a relevant and timely ad, TravelNow has turned John into a customer. TravelNow sells him a flight to Fiji, but because of the contract they have with the airline, they only make about $35 off the flight, which cost John $900. With such small margins, TravelNow needs to get John to buy more for his trip in March, and encourage him to purchase from them again in the future, making him a more valuable customer.

How do you get your customers to buy more?

John needs to stay somewhere, so let’s sell him a hotel. But not just any hotel. The hotel with the highest margin.

TravelNow offers thousands of hotel options around the world, each with its own margin. So they can set-up their Dynamic Ads for Travel feed to manage their products by brand and destination. Then they set-up portfolios in Kenshoo by destination using Kenshoo’s Portfolio Optimizer (KPO). KPO takes into consideration each hotel’s margin while automatically adjusting bids and budgets on an hourly basis to meet the overall ROI goal.

Turning Customers Into Loyalists

Equipped with all of John’s information about his trip to Fiji, it’s now up to the TravelNow marketers to keep the conversation going and to encourage John to book future travel with TravelNow. But how do you turn John into a loyal repeat customer?

The first step is to connect your CRM to automatically feed customer information including past booking data into Kenshoo. You now know who has booked in the past, where they went, and how long ago, and can plan a follow-up campaign accordingly. With Kenshoo’s Dynamic Audience Refresh tool, you can ensure your custom audiences are updated daily.

You can then automatically create audiences in Kenshoo and set-up campaigns to show even better prices for another trip to the same or similar destination. With Kenshoo’s quick and intuitive ad creation flow, it’s easy to sequence your ads over the next 6 months while John plans his next trip.

You have found that it takes up to 38 points of contact before a customer converts. Sequencing your ads to follow-up on initial points of contact with an enticing offer may encourage a conversion. With Creative Refresh and the new Creative Manager, you can update your creative at scale in a matter of minutes, smart cropping to fit your ad format and creating an overlay from a template to show a special discount. Using the A/B Testing Tool you can quickly a/b test your standard creative against your newly updated creative.

Take it a step further and save time by automating your ad sequencing with Automated Actions so you are following your customer through their journey, reaching them at each touch point with the most timely and enticing ads.

Closing the Travel Loop

By knowing what your customer is interested in, where they are in the customer journey, and how to entice them to buy more, you will overcome low-margins and drive results for your business.  To learn more about Kenshoo solutions for Travel, please visit us at kenshoo.com/travel.