Travel brands need to do more to elicit an emotional response from consumers and be more memorable, delegates at an Accord half day conference hosted by Google were told.
Ruairidh Roberts, industry head at the search giant, said regular reach with consumers was vital, but seldom happens in travel.
He contrasted travel with the insurance price comparison sector, where four players have been battling for dominance.
Roberts showed search data that proved campaigns like ‘Compare the Meerkat’ from Compare The Market gave the brand a discernible uplift that was sustained.
“OTAs live and breathe in the search space. You are just waiting for people to be in the market for a holiday rather than being with them all year,” he said.
“Be creative, be consistent and create memory structures [in consumers’ brains]. The way you grow brand share is regular reach with buyers in your category.
“Make sure you are easy to buy and stay competitive. A lot of times things in the travel space are not that easy to buy. You have to be accessible.”
Roberts revealed how Google itself thinks about how brand should execute a successful marketing strategy.This is based around four key factors that reflect where customers are in their purchase path: See, Think, Do and Care.
While ‘Care’ relates to people who have already purchased, and ‘Do’ and ‘Think’ to people who are poised to purchase, it is at the ‘See’ stage were firms can build their brand.
Roberts said the best way to do this was via audio visual channels with large audiences – he cited Google’s YouTube video sharing platform – and building content to engage with consumers.
“There are different ways of measuring the impact of this,” said Roberts. “Are you hitting unique reach and frequency and do you understand what the impact on your brand awareness is?”
While PPC and SEO can pay a role in the ‘See’ phase content, video and social plays the biggest part.
Roberts highlighted the work Turkish Airlines has done on YouTube with video featuring Barcelona football star Lionel Messi and basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
A follow-up on a TV ad sought to capitalise on the ‘Selfie’ craze online and got the airline’s message across without overtly trying to sell tickets.
Roberts said this gave the airline a 14% increase in brand reach between 2012 and 2013.
“The See, Think, Do, Care framework we think is a really good format to help you understand what are the right platform to use.
“See is critical to buildings brand strength. You can now prove the long term impact of brand advertising.
“The evidence is very clear that if you have good brand execution, the investment you put in creates an immediate spike in brand response.
“What you gain in brand recognition over a four quarter period is double what you would expect if you just stick to direct response.
“It’s a clear indicator that you can get that investment back. You have to take that leap of faith initially. You will get the rewards.”