In 2011 when my SocialCRM startup was acquired, I did what many who’ve been through the startup acquisition roller coaster do: I took a trip to a distant country. For my family and me, a two-week tour of Turkey was sufficiently exotic and transformational. They say that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer; our trip to Turkey was a case in point.
I’ve always had a passion for travel, and for digital marketing and innovation. When presented with the opportunity to join the marketing/E-commerce team at United Airlines, the decision was simple because it brought my passion for travel and digital marketing into perfect unison.
Today, my latest journey as part of Adobe’s industry strategy and marketing team enables me to collaborate with some of the best travel and hospitality leaders worldwide. I believe this journey will be full of exciting opportunities to drive innovation and transform customer travel experiences.
Over the past several years I’ve had the privilege of having a front-row seat in driving marketing change and innovation. My observations include:
- The business of travel and hospitality is complex. However, it represents an incredible opportunity for those who enjoy innovating to solve complex digital problems.
- The line where marketing starts and stops continues to blur. Travelers expect ongoing engagement from service providers throughout their journeys.
- Travel marketing: It’s all digital now, addressable, and increasingly mobile.
- Mobile-enabled travel and hospitality customers are in the driver’s seat, as they navigate complex environments and fragmented platforms.
- This is a once-in–a-generation opportunity to rewrite the travel marketing playbook.
What’s ahead in 2015
2014 was an exciting year for travel and hospitality. From growing iBeacon installations, smart key locks, real-time hotel reviews, personal device on-demand entertainment, free on-property wifi and significant digital channel investments, 2014 was pivotal; however, much remains to be done. Some trends and themes to watch in 2015 are:
- Mobile is nowhere near done: Transformations due to mobile are accelerating. Despite intense focus, mobile maturity in travel is still low, outside a handful of technology companies. I expect mobile to have a more profound impact on post-purchase, a traditionally dark area Beyond initial app development, marketers need to become more mobile-savvy in driving downloads, engagement and choreographing messaging.
- Digitally enhanced customer experiences: Changing demographic and global competitive pressures are driving the elevation of digital customer experiences as a core marketing/brand function. Optimizing customer experiences requires greater automation, coordination and employee enablement.
- The continued rise of programmatic, data-driven contextual marketing: Leading hospitality companies such as Disney and others are making significant strides in capturing a global view of customers beyond the initial purchase to include all phases of a customer’s journey.
- Owning the marketing micro-moments: Marketers have to optimize for a world of micro-moments whether on a mobile lock screen, a smart watch, web platform or other. Choreographing messages across platforms is a difficult proposition with implications for channel adoption.
Delivering on all fronts is no easy task—and laying a foundation using automation and organizational change management will be essential to success.
Digital marketers are overwhelmed with information, data and opinions. To help you cut through the clutter, here are some upcoming topics I plan to touch on:
- Impactful, timely analysis of travel and hospitality as well as retail innovations by tapping into the world-class technical and creative talent on the Adobe team.
- Surfacing relevant, up-to-date, and actionable data from the market-leading research done through our Adobe Digital Index team and other custom analyses.
- Exploring the future of travel & hospitality digital marketing, with a focus on key best practices, strategies and tactics.
I am excited about the journey ahead as well as the the travel and hospitality environment we are creating for our customers. Technology-driven innovation is ushering a second golden age of travel, and we get to enjoy a front-row seat.