MEDIA & MARKETING | Contributed Content, Singapore
Matthew Hulen

What Singaporeans need to know about the future of travel marketing


Consumer behavior has changed dramatically over the last few years, and with it, the way marketers talk to consumers. Thanks to the rising adoption of smartphones and increasing mobile broadband penetration, we each now have a small yet powerful device with us at all times.

Increasingly, consumers are shopping and sharing online, giving businesses the potential to grow, drive sales, and strengthen their brand. According to Nielsen1, Singapore has an 87% smartphone penetration rate, one of the highest in Asia Pacific.

Fundamentally, the rise of digital and mobile has changed consumers' expectations and behaviour. People are consuming media on demand. They are focused on discovery and sharing, and they expect things to be interactive and personalised to them.

Singaporean consumers, for example, are increasingly addicted to their smartphones, with 75% of internet users keeping their smartphones by their bed, and 47% checking it if they wake up during the night2.

Despite this shift in consumer behaviour, marketers' investments and resources have yet to catch up, and connecting with travelers at every stage, on every device is the new challenge.

As an integral part of travelers' lives, mobile allows travelers to document their entire journey on their device of choice; be it dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing, or reflecting. As such, it's essential that marketers connect with travelers at every touch point, on every device, including mobile.

Taking a look at the three most important travel marketing goals, here's how social impacts each of them:

1. Inspiration: tailored experiences for consumers

Large, people-based platforms offering social context give marketers more ways to inspire consumers. The dreaming phase of travel is now more shareable, and 42% of Facebook users did just that in 2013, sharing at least one travel story with their friends and family.

Through inspiring people, marketers are helping to create memories, and motivating them to continue booking trips. People's natural tendencies to share their travel experiences in real time play an important role in helping others in their network discover what matters to them.

Now, travel companies no longer have to push generic messages to consumers and hope that they result in action. They are able to strategically time and tailor their messages to targeted audiences, leveraging web feeds' role in providing relevant information to ensure an optimal experience for customers.

2. Conversion: influencing the path to purchase

Conversion is imperative to any business but the path to purchase is complex as the consumer experience is now omni-channel. Technology has changed efficiency, and marketers need to reach the right travelers at the right time, on the right medium that drives action.

In Singapore, multiscreen behavior is common practice, with 73% of consumers reporting they have had experience using two devices simultaneously2, indicating consumers' increased comfort in moving across a number of devices to stay connected and consume content.

To a consumer, the messages are coming from the brand, and not the channel. No matter where or when they are touched by a message, each of the combined touches have an influence on their purchasing behaviour. As such, marketers must now integrate content into the moments that matter to consumers, and ensure that this content is relevant and personalised.

For Singaporeans, the ubiquitous mobile phone serves a variety of purposes, whether it's searching out directories/resources (80.8%), checking the news and weather information (84.9%), or staying in touch and talking to family and friends (89.9%)3.

This underscores the importance of a mobile app strategy for any business in the travel industry. Marketers have to do more than just build an app and hope consumers will use it.

Strategic marketing activities such as traditional banner ads, retargeting ads, and in particular, mobile ads that drive app downloads directly from mobile such as Facebook's Mobile App Install ads, are highly useful in driving conversion.

3. Loyalty: ensuring effective ROI

Lastly, there is retention, which can be broken down into three parts: Customer Relationship Management (CRM), brand, and mobility. Digital technology and the abundance of data now available open up massive opportunities for managing customer relations and the lifecycle of customers.

Instead of transactional relationships that ebb and flow, marketers can now reach consumers at all the right points in time to form longer, more valuable relationships. To maximise reach and its efficiency, businesses can marry any data they have with that on Facebook.

Take Garuda Indonesia for example. Having just rebranded its frequent flier program, the airline wanted to raise awareness of the program and encourage frequent flyers in Indonesia to take part. The airline ran targeted video ads at its core audience (working, travel, and finance professionals) for four days to great success, achieving a 24% increase in ad recall.

Gone are the days when massive reach meant one message was shared with a large audience. Advertisers can now achieve massive reach while delivering relevant messages to segmented audiences.

As travel continues to be a key sector focus for Facebook, travel marketers are starting to leverage people-based targeting to drive personalisation at scale, and mobile to reach customers at every point of their journey.

1Nielsen, Decoding the Asian Mobile Consumer
2Toluna, Smartphones: Sleepless in Singapore
3comScore Device Essentials: Difference between mobile device usage in Singapore and Hong Kong

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Matthew Hulen

Matthew Hulen

Matt is the Head of Travel & Financial Services for South East Asia at Facebook, based in Singapore. He has 10 years of online media experience and recently joined Facebook from Expedia where he led all partner advertising efforts for the Asia Pacific region.

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