Travel marketers set to increase digital spend in 2011

Enthusiasm for the social media and mobile channels in the travel sector is set to continue unabated, according to new research.

More than a quarter (28%) of travel companies plan to invest in apps development and 22% are looking to build mobile sites over the course of the next year.

The report by digital marketing specialist Bigmouthmedia found that digital’s share of the overall marketing budget continues to grow – from 56% in 2010 to 60% in 2011 – with some 85% of companies planning to increase their spend in the months ahead.

While the majority intend to do so by means of a direct investment, a third will transfer the funds across from traditional channels.
Online travel agents and comparison search engines have the largest budget share devoted to online marketing at 90%, while airlines and hotel companies have the lowest proportion allocated to online spend, with around 30% in 2010.

However, this figure is set to increase to 33% for airlines and 38% for hotels in 2011.
Some 58% of those polled said that they intended to introduce ‘attribution modelling’ to calculate ROI for their online marketing spend in the year ahead.

Bigmouthmedia senior travel strategist Anneli Ritari said: “The industry has been forced to cope with a rich variety of challenges ranging from exploding volcanoes to a stuttering economy over the past year, but our research shows that across the travel sector, these setbacks only appear to have increased companies’ enthusiasm for digital marketing in general and the social media in particular.

“With the need for budget transparency and accountability becoming ever more important, the measurable nature of digital is fast making it the dominant channel.

“Although the travel business’ adoption of digital marketing techniques continues to improve, the industry can still learn from the example set by other sectors.”

Ritari said: “Examples of great video virals or social media campaigns from the travel sector are few and far between – perhaps because as an industry we tend to be too focused on ROI – and as a general rule tend to lack the creative flair that has seen companies in entertainment and retail reap rich rewards.”

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