Attitudes towards social media and more sophisticated data-driven systems will modernise when a generational shift among senior bosses takes place in the travel industry.
Asked why the sector has not been at the forefront of exploiting many of the latest technologies available today, speakers at the second BrightOnTravel conference suggested the age of key decision makers could be the issue.
“Leaders in the industry tend to be older, they don’t get it and it takes a while for younger people to demonstrate this is what we can do,” said Steve Endacott, a serial industry entrepreneur and investor in CWTdigital the technology firm behind BrightOnTravel .
Designate digital development director Dean Harvey said the problem is also that digital marketers have become used to certain measurable techniques like PPC with a distinct ROI for every pound that is spent.
“I think that’s a symptom of why it’s not been done,” he said.
Matt Eames, Feefo director of sales, said too many firms were just pursuing strategies in areas like reviews or social without properly investing in it to make it work or because everyone else is doing it.
“Put someone in there to make sure can manage it and resource it and check. You need to be able to say ‘we started there and we’ve finished there’.”
Harvey added resource was important but also the challenge is organisational with firms having to restructure to meet the challenges of the disruption that is happening in the sector due to advances in technology.
Social media and content agency Ginger Juice founder Bruce Martin said a number of smaller firms had dipped a toe in areas like social media but took a listless approach and not found the ROI they expected.
“Some companies are now thinking how can we make something of this because it’s not going away. Strategy is key. What’s the point of doing this? What does success look like? Is it increased leads or increased sales, or is it value of brand?
“It’s getting people to come to you instead of having to pay Google to get them to you.”
Simon Powell, Eysys founder, said the rising cost of acquisition was driving innovation in this area and the millions of pounds spent by the big players in systems is starting to trickle down.
“Search has definitely changed and the volume of data we get and we have to personalise because there’s just too much data.”
Ryan Kliszat, founder of mobile marketing platform Verticly, said a year ago event the big media agencies were not aware of what was going on in this area.
“Now everyone wants to speak to us about data and personalisation, the latest buzzword, and online and offline and iBeacons but they haven’t got a clue what it actually does, but they are just desperate to do something.
“You will probably see a lot more of it now because they are putting money behind it. You will probably see a six month lag but all the big boys are definitely pushing this now.”