Facebook says wooing travel industry will be 'key focus' in 2014

Facebook is planning to woo the travel industry with a series of events, research and ad targeting refinements in the coming months as it looks to turn one of its fastest growing advertising verticals to one of its biggest in 2014.

Facebook research

In recent months the social network’s EMEA division has gradually been reorganising its sales teams to work with advertisers on a vertical, rather the country-based level. It has been recruiting for travel sales representatives in particular as it is looking to bring spend from the sector more in line with its biggest spending sectors, such as FMCG and financial.

This week Facebook met with 40 of its top and prospective travel clients to present a study, conducted by research agency Sparkler, that found Facebook appears prominently during the five stages of taking a holiday: dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing and reflecting.

Among the findings, the study claimed more than half (52 per cent) of users said when using Facebook they started dreaming about a holiday even when they did not have one booked and that 95 per cent of people use Facebook for travel related activities prior to going on vacation.

Andy Pang, Facebook UK measurement solutions group lead, told Marketing Week it is hoped the study will help travel companies recognise the social network should form a key part of their advertising spend, adding that travel will be a “key sector focus” in 2014 for the site.

He said: “A lot of travel marketing is about using search as the main mechanism but that mainly falls at the buying and planning stages. This is about reminding them that Facebook is present throughout the five stages of travel. [At the dreaming, experiencing and reflecting stage] friends and family in pictures adds so much more weight than a picture of an empty beach in a glossy brochure.”

From this week’s meeting and further one-on-one meetings going forward, Facebook will encourage travel companies to use its new Custom Audiences tool in order to link their CRM databases with Facebook’s own user data and improve the way they segment their customers.

Facebook is also working to improve ad targeting product so brands can drill down to a segment of “travel intenders”, a predictive algorithm that can determine consumers likely to be in the market to book their holiday soon and therefore be more likely to interact with advertising.

As part of this work with the sector, the social network will partner big online travel operators and tourists boards, alongside research agencies - such as Datalogix, GfK and Kantar - to analyse the performance of their Facebook ad campaigns, particularly when coupled with traditional media such as outdoor and press. It hopes to share some of the results in the form of case studies with the rest of the market later next year.

Read the first major profile interview with Facebook’s VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn here

Readers' comments (4)

  • Facebook's Lee McCabe should chime in here. He's dodged giving hoteliers and travel partners the metrics they need to be successful (how often do people hide your content vs liking your page and having it hidden, how many actually digest the content for real? why are all geolocation and check in tools irrevocably broken?)....

    and last year took a swipe at the Travel industry saying we weren't doing a good enough job --> More here: http://www.hrabaconsulting.com/blog/2013/01/29/facebook-travel-talks-about-industry-engagement-let-me-tell-you-about-engagement/

    But to say they are going to woo Travel in 2014? 9 YEARS TOO LATE????

    I would blame the CEO, but it's a chicken with its head cut off.? This is absolutely absurd.

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  • Facebook is part of many people's life but when it comes to travel it is not and probably will never be more important than perception/ prestige of a destination, price and for hotels and resorts ... location!
    In my humble opinion Facebook is for many a tool to show-off ...
    In a matter of years Facebook will be no more relevant or important than other digital channels.

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  • So far, only few have gone on Facebook with the idea of booking a hotel room. Stats confirm this: only 4% of links to booking sites (brand.com+OTA's) comes from Facebook.
    Nevertheless, it is one of the sources people will consult before they decide to book your hotel or not. So make sure your property is on there with full details,

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  • As an agency with significant experience marketing on Facebook for Travel & Vacation Rental Companies, I can say with statistical backing that direct bookings(purchases) from Facebook for some companies has eclipsed PPC, and Organic traffic. Again this is for a select few, the majority of companies do have some direct facebook purchases. Facebook is used by vacationers early in the conversion cycle. Content posted to branded facebook pages drives click traffic, but direct conversions aren't anything to get too excited about. Facebook is not the next "big thing" for the Travel Industry in it's present form for direct purchases.

    Facebook however is perfect for maintaining TOMA (top of mind awareness), and getting tens of thousands of targeted email subscribers who then have a much higher conversion ratio. @leeNakamoto

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