Building digital strategies for the travel sector: Interview with AffiliRed

By Chris Lee

Digital disruption of the travel industry is hot topic. NMK caught up with Diego Gomila, founder of AffiliRed, an affiliate marketing platform for the travel industry, who has 20 years’ experience in the travel industry, for his thoughts.

NMK recently looked closely at the mobile opportunity presented to tourism industry players. Does Gomila agree that mobile should be at the heart of a travel industry marketing strategy?

“A question that we are repeatedly asked by clients new to performance marketing is should we build a mobile strategy within our affiliate plans. The answer is always the same; Absolutely,” Gomila told NMK.

Most travel companies have already embraced mobile, according to Gomila, and the ones that have not are probably including mobile in their short-term plans.

“The problem, however, is that most travel companies approach mobile separately and with a different strategy to other campaigns. They shouldn’t. Mobile sales are part of online sales and should be incorporated within the online marketing strategy,” he advised.

Recent surveys show that PC and laptops sales have fallen dramatically, while sales of tablet devices have increased, Gomila added.

“If you add this to the fact that smartphones are increasingly moving towards a tablet look and feel, travel companies should be developing an overall online strategy that adapts to all type of devices,” he believes.

The wider digital landscape

Like most other industries, Gomila believes that travel is exploring highly innovative and creative ways to engage and interact with their customers. Social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ provide a direct and approachable service and travel companies – such as holiday comparison site Icelolly with its Valentine’s competition earlier this year – are using these in new and exciting ways.

Pinterest continues to attract users with travel being perfect for the visual media of sharing travel stories and ideas, according to Gomila. The Pinterest-like site Trippy has also expanded its brand, emphasising the importance of social media and the sense of community with boards and shared content that inspires users.

“One final thing, don’t be fooled into thinking that social is just for the young – the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket,” Gomila warned.

The future of digital in travel

As we head into 2014 Gomila believes we will see a huge expansion in performance marketing with a multi-channel, multi-device strategy. Approximately 40 per cent of last minute search queries were made on mobile devices last year and this is set to rise in 2014.

To meet the demands of performance marketers – especially return on investment, conversion and measurability – Facebook has announced radical changes to its platform. Its campaign creation and management has improved, offering new creative options, mobile advertising capabilities, and targeting tools, Gomila said.  

“[Facebook] is increasingly a top choice among performance marketers to drive sales, acquire customers and generate revenues,” Gomila concluded. “So, with these changes and the creativity that inevitably follows, performance marketing is going to play even more of a crucial role as the travel industry increases its multi-channel strategy to reach its markets.”

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