Newsletters and email advertising “are the opposite of dead”.
That was the message of top digital travel firms Momondo Group and Secret Escapes at this week’s Travel Distribution Summit.
“There’s a misapprehension that newsletters are dead or unsexy, but the crucial difference is that newsletters have moved on and are now more personalised and relevant,” said Hugo Burge, chief executive of Momondo Group.
“Newsletters are a thriving part of the Cheapflights business – it’s profitable, it’s growing quickly and we’re getting smarter at making the content more relevant.”Cheapflights has more than 10 million opt-in users.
“We’re finding that more and more partners want to work with us on this,” said Burge.
“Performance-based advertising, which was so successful in the early days of online marketing and search, is now available in newsletters.
“You’re inspiring users to take trips they hadn’t considered and it’s a very exciting area.
“Emails have moved on – 70% or 80% of our newsletters are read on a mobile which means people actually have more time to read emails because they can browse on the bus.”
Alex Saint, chief executive of Secret Escapes, added: “We get complaints when customers don’t receive their email.
“People love getting good emails but hate getting crap emails – with good content they will open your email time after time because it’s fun.
“It’s about developing a proposition which you can really deliver on.
“We focus on transparency and are religious about making sure all our prices are checked many times during production.
“We promise to have the best four or five-star hotels with prices that are absolutely exclusive to us.
“We work incredibly hard on keeping those and I think that’s one of the things that differentiates us from others and one of the reasons our members recommend us to other people.”
Secret Escapes uses an “aggressive combination” of digital and TV advertising.
“We can very carefully tune our TV schedule to give us the same kind of efficiencies as digital marketing,” said Saint.
“We’ve then got the added benefit of brand awareness generation. In the US we have 65% brand awareness in not much over five years.”
Johannes Thomas, managing director of Trivago, said the firm runs TV marketing in 55 markets.
“We have been able to build a case in Europe and in the US six out of 10 people know us,” he said.
Andrea Bertoli, deputy chief executive of Lastminute.com, added: “Trivago has four times our budget but we’re only Europe.
“What’s very different is the weight of online vs offline,” he said.
“We spend 70-80% online, on search and metasearch – that’s a marketing cost for us.
“We have found using TV in an efficient way is one of the biggest challenges and it’s very important to measure that.
“We come from a culture very much AdWords-based and that’s simple.
“With TV you have to commit budget so you put money on the table and it’s difficult to adjust as you go.”