Listening is not Enough: Marketing to the Travel industry


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Instead of being the biggest shouters, we want to be the best listeners to understand consumer needs. In this White Paper, we identify key marketing components within the Travel Industry that allows us to interpret what the consumer is saying and how to design effective marketing and advertising.

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Listening is not Enough: Marketing to the Travel industry

  1. 1. Listening isnot Enough:Gleaning Actionable Insights fromOnline Travel Conversations At the dawn of the 21st century, Greg Icenhower of P&G said,“We’ve been voted the best marketer of the 20th Century, but that’s because we were the biggest shouters. In the 21st Century, we want to be the best listeners.”1 Nearly ten years later, plenty of marketers are listening – it’s hard not to. Social media discussions – via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms – are full of peer-to-peer conversations, particularly around travel. 15% of these conversations are from travelers either seeking advice, or giving it2; turning to and trusting each other rather than travel brands themselves, for authentic advice. In addition, there is a “high” correlation between a customer’s experiences in the hotel and airline industries and the willingness to A)make another purchase from that provider, and B) to recommend that provider to others.3 And the phenomenon is global and increasingly mobile. By 2014, mobile Internet usage will surpass computer usage;4 and more travelers are using social networks via mobile device during their trips, with 37% of international leisure travelers saying they use mobile social networks.5 15% of Yet, despite the proliferation of social media use, and tools such as Radian6 and BuzzMetrics global online that enable brands to listen, an astonishingly few companies are actively listening – of 2,100 surveyed companies, only 25% know where their most valuable customers are discussing their conversations experiences, and only 7% responding integrate social media into their marketing activities.6 Even are from for those companies that are mapping and integrating social media discussions, very few have travelers either any sense of how such efforts impact their bottom line – only 16% of marketers have any mea-seeking advice, surements in place for understanding social media ROI.7 or giving it. By simply listening to Internet “buzz,” companies are not getting the most out of a revolutionary opportunity. With active listening, brands can quantifiably analyze what they’re hearing and (Wunderman Listening Platform, 2010, where they’re hearing it, so that those insights can be made actionable, and those actions English language only ) made profitable. 1 Fara Warner,“Don’t Shout, Listen,” Fast Company, July 31, 2001 2 Wunderman Listening Platform, 2010, English language only 3 ”Customer Experience correlates to loyalty,” Forrester, February 17, 2009 4 Mary Meeker,“Internet Trends,” April 2010, Morgan Stanley Presentation 5 ITB World Travel Trends Report 2010/2011, December 2010 6 SAS Press Release from The Premier Business Leadership Series, Las Vegas, October 27, 2010 7 HeBS Best Practices: 2011 Social Media Resolutions 1
  2. 2. Marketing to travelers starts with active listeningActive listening has long been a hallmark of successful contact-center sales operations. Indeed, traininginside call-center agents on active listening skills was one element of an effort that drove a 41% increase insales conversion and a 31% increase in average order revenue for a technology client.8 Imagine applyingthe same skills to social media discourse.Social media gives us the largest database of unstructured consumer data that has ever existed, and it iscontinually evolving. From picking a vacation destination to booking hotels – all the way through to thein-flight experience – travelers are talking to and trusting each other, and taking action based on peer advice.Combine those conversations with the feedback travelers are giving directly to marketers through thousandsof call center and email conversations, and you have an enormous amount of minable data.The travel planning process is complex and presents multiple hurdles. Active listening can help identify opportunities that simplify the process for consumers. Clearly, some carriers want you to Start thinking Look at the private suites on this airplane!!! Went to Chicago last week on old-tech about Europe in the fall. Aer Lingus kicked off I am excited for mytrip to Dubai next year. American airlines. Next trip I’ll opt for wifi/ a fall Ireland airfare sale, the Lufthansa fal Enjoy SINGAPORE AIRLINES SUITES A380 VIDEO personal screen on @VirginAmerica or jetBlue Europe airfare sale is up and running, and now Icelandaic is Offering fall airfare deals. Love this JetBlue website. Navigation very Think I’m having the worst customer Experience simple and great. right now with British Airways. I’m never buying We’re off to Italy in Aug and the cheapest seats flights from them again. seem to beDelta/KLM. The flights arecode- Why is it that when I’m ready to go on vacation shared so they can bebooked through either the airlines have doubled their ticket prices I’m going home Monday! Flying @JetBlue company,but going through Amsterdam uses from a month ago? Southwest doesn’t go purchased my ticket earlier can’t wait to KLM equipment vs. the others using Delta where I wanna go and all the other airlines sleep in my bed...thanks @JetBlueCheeps equipment. Does anyone have an opinion charge you for your bags. Who can go on on which would be better? a vacation and just take carry on luggage? Seat on flight #LH4225 Paris - Istanbul Lufthansa Not me! just rated 5/20 Blogs/ForumsHow social media platforms play different roles in the experience.Clearly there’s a lot to learn from actively listening, and certainly the unstructured social and voice datais there, but unless a rigorous process is applied to categorizing conversation content and identifying keytrends and correlations, the task can be an overwhelming and, ultimately, an unfruitful one.8 Wunderman Client Case Study, Personal Computing, 2002 2
  3. 3. Making sense of travel conversations via active listening From building communities, to crisis communications, to offering discount fares and rates, many travel companies have established a social media presence via popular social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And while monitoring and responding to conversations within one’s own social channels is a natural first step, an exponential leap occurs when you begin to make sense of the myriad of travel conversations happening elsewhere, and the potential discovery of previously unknown venues where people are talking about your brand. There are four immediate opportunities that can come from actively listening to travelers’ conversations Opportunity 1: Categorizing and Benchmarking Topics Any listening initiative must start with a set of assumptions on what topics travelers are conversing about. As shown, this will likely range from upfront travel planning and destination selection, to the purchasing process, and finally the travel experience itself. Indeed, nearly 84,000 travelers Tweet about their airport check-in and in-flight experiences every month.9 A similar number Tweet about their hotel check-in and in-room experiences. And post-trip, travel forums like those found on Trip Advisor and Expedia give users the opportunity to review their entire experience, from start to finish. Where does your brand show up in these conversations? What key themes are most closely correlated to your airline, your rental car agency? What are fliers saying about your loyalty program? Your competitors’? Intuition will guide you to the likely starting points to examine, but we often find that the deep- est insights come from unexpected topics associated with your brand – the “unknown un- knowns.” Opportunity 2: Mapping the Ecosystem The output from a well-executed listening initiative will identify the “Where” and the “Who” so vitally important to begin active listening. In what categories and specific domains and social media platforms are you and your competitors being discussed? Who is doing the talking, Over 83,000 and how are others responding? Identifying content authors and matching their posts with comment counts, re-tweets, and other measures of engagement will begin to give you a list oftweets about who is most influential in any particular topic area. These influencers may vary widely basedthe boarding on the stage of travel planning they’re most aligned with. and inflight Overlaying reach data or network size with listening output tied to individual authors can pro- experience vide your brand with a targeted list of real or potential brand advocates, as well as detractors.every month. Similarly, mapping the key domains where these influencers (and those they influence) tend to gather is critical in targeting where your brand needs to participate in conversations. Again, this output will often bring obvious results – frequent fliers converse on sites like, (Wunderman Listening Platform, February, 2011, but may also bring surprises – a significant amount of travel advice seeking and advice giving English Language only.) happens on domains like 9 Wunderman Listening Platform, February 2011 3
  4. 4. Opportunity 3: Measuring SentimentScoring “sentiment” in individual social media posts is, at best, fraught with pitfalls. Considerthe following Tweet that was scored as “positive” by a popular listening tool: “Oh great, I’m onhold with [airline] AGAIN.”Sarcasm is one of the great barriers to accurate sentiment analysis, which is why humanvetting of any single post is necessary before taking action based purely on scoring. That said,it is possible, with a fair degree of accuracy, to measure sentiment around a broader topic(like your hotel’s customer service) if there is sufficient volume of conversations on that topic.A better method, though, is to map attributes – whether they relate to customer experience,pricing, or any other measure, based on keyword proximity to your brand and your competi-tors’ brands. This typically requires deeper analytics than provided by most listening dash-boards, butis well worth the effort. Data visualization of this type of data can bring quickinsights that enable you to pinpoint areas that require closer examination.Opportunity 4: Assessing Topic RelationshipsBeyond focusing just on your brand and your competitors’ brands, social listening provides awindow into the customer travel experience as a whole – from planning all the way through tothe return home. Looking at how key themes and topics relate to one another in peer to peerconversations can yield surprising insights. For example, we recently looked at the pre-eventdiscussions for a client in the entertainment industry. In addition to the expected themes ofexcitement and anticipation, we also found a lot of language around fear, dread, and remorse.The same may likely hold true for travelers – once a trip is booked, the expected emotionallanguage “can’t wait to get to Jamaica!” may also be surrounded by anxiety around gettingto the airport, keeping the kids in line on the plane, exchanging currency, and understandinglocal customs.Virgin Atlantic was onto something when they realized that the flight experience begins whenthe traveler wakes up at home on the day of departure – and thus began offering door-to-door service via chauffeured car to its Upper Class Service passengers. Understanding howthe customer mindset manifests itself in conversations about pain points, needs, and wantscan help bring deeper insight into your customers’ experiences.A global ear to a global travel conversationTravel has become more global than ever, fueled by the globalization of business, growingmigration, rising consumer affluence and the cost of travel more accessible to many. It isestimated that the total number of overseas trips taken by tourists from the top 15 travelingnations will almost double by 2020 from 433 million to 837 million.10Actively listening to the global traveler requires a global solution like Wunderman’s ListeningPlatform, with the scale and scope to work locally, regionally and with geographic specificity.For example, an airliner seeking to cater to the emerging Chinese traveler could use theListening Platform as a cost-effective means of gathering market insight including targetingopportunities, identifying unmet market needs, measuring brand awareness and understandingspecific barriers to consideration and conversion.10 Mintel Press Release, ”World’s leading outbound markets,” March 2006 4
  5. 5. For our global engagement with a large telecommunications company, the Listening Platformactively gathers and mines social media in 17 markets and 11 languages. Working with localin-market analysts, actionable insights are generated on a weekly or monthly cadence. Forthe North American market, the Listening Platform was leveraged to generate insights aroundconsumer language, mindset and passion points for smartphone usage. The subsequentlaunch campaign helped to propel the smartphone to the top sales position for the carrier.Connecting travel conversationsto business outcomesRationalizing investments in social media is dependent on the travel enterprise’s business goals,strategy and the key performance indicators that will be developed as an ongoing measure ofsuccess. Investments typically include the tools/technology and human resources. LISTENING PLATFORM REPORTS & DASHBOARDS Action Plan Creation CLIENT BRIEF BUSINESS & MARKETING OBJECTVES 6 1 IMPLICATIONS PLANNING Objectives & Hypotheses WHAT Alignment between objectives and Topics Topic Relationships recommendations Data Filter Deinition HOW 5 2 Sentiment/Polarity TOPIC & SOURCE DATA Geo/ Language Filters ANALYSIS COLLECTION* Data Collection WHERE Domains Data Extraction WHO Influencers WHAT’S NEW Momentum Loading 4 3 CONTENT DATA LOADING & De-duplication CATEGORIZATION 4 HYGIENE SPAM Removal Tokenization Taxonomy Creation Word/Phrase Analysis Scoring Listening Platform Tools & Processes 3rd Party Social/Search/ Voice Recognition TechnologiesA well defined process can help clients connect active listening to business outcomes. 5
  6. 6. Unlike other solutions, The Listening Platform is not just a tool, as any social tool can collect data andgenerate reports. It is the interpretation and translation of data into actionable strategies and tacticsthat provides the greatest benefit to a travel company. For illustrative purposes, below are some potentialmarketing actions and business outcomes which can be generated from each of the four listeningopportunities previously described: Listening Opportunity Marketing Action Business Outcome Categorizing and Input to the creative and agency briefing process Improved insights/ Benchmarking Topics relevance/speed/cost Example: Actively monitoring topic trending can • Topic presence and significance enable an airline to proactively address FFP issues • Competitive activity before they snowball, enabling immediate email • Campaign propagation and social media communications to address • Market trends those issues Mapping the Ecosystem Influencer outreach Advanced targeting and efficiency in media spend: • Domains – where are Media strategy – bought/owned/earned higher response and conversations taking place conversion rates • Influencers (reach, pull) Example: Identifying advocates of your hotel chain • Influencers/domain sentiment and matching them to your loyalty database can • Participants – who are they enable high touch, shareable communications to • How this changes by topic those potential “brand champions” Measuring Sentiment Benchmark/measure propagation in key marketing themes Improved customer • Negative areas experience • Positive areas Identify passion/pain points • Competitive opportunity • Effects of partnership Example: Actively listening to negative language around the auto rental process may lead a brand to hone in on widespread process issues, or issues specific to a particular rental location Assessing Topic Relationships Identify key strategic opportunity areas New product or service (Client/competitor strengths/weaknesses) opportunities • Consumer language • Consumer mindset Example: An hotelier might identify that customer • Attitudes experience with a competitor’s property in a • Needs and wants particular city is lacking, and present an offer to its • Pain/passion points own loyalty members who travel to that city. The hotelier might also target a referral program to its members who live in that city, making the offer shareable for those advice givers 6
  7. 7. SummaryAs we progress through the 21st century, one can only anticipate the continuing transformationof the travel industry. Today, social media discourse provides us with the largest database oftravel conversations that has ever existed. Active listening can help find the meaning behindthese conversations and make those conversations actionable. And as travel conversationsbecome more global in nature, any social solution must take geographic scale and scopeinto consideration.The Listening Platform enables active listening, driving actionable outcomes for travel marketerson a global scale. Listen actively. Take action. Connect actions to business outcomes. Theseare the requisites for success in today’s online travel marketplace.Contact usTo learn more and preview The Listening Platform case studies, email:activelistening@wunderman.comBusinesses that are using The Listening Platform Financial Services • Understand the impact of economic crisis on consumer attitude towards financial institutions • Determine how best to communicate changing regulations Insurance • Measure the impact of large sponsorship effort (relationship between the brand and the fans) Mobile Devices • Understand smart phone usage and attitudes • Identify key influencers and domains to drive social media strategy • Link traditional brand tracking research with social media analytics Consumer Electronics • Key barriers for product adoption to drive product re-launch B2B Technology • Key barriers and opportunities for “Cloud Computing” to drive overall launch strategy Young Mothers Segment • Insights around diapering and nutrition to drive CRM communications Entertainment • Leverage tour momentum (conversations) to drive additional CD sales Understand key motivations and barriers for concert attendance Healthcare • Conversations regarding various conditions (e.g. High Blood Pressure) to drive messaging and segmentationAbout WundermanWunderman is the original architect of response-driven marketing, an estimated trillion dollarglobal industry. Today, with 50+ years of innovation, creativity, and insight, Wunderman standsas the first name in advertising that delivers measurable results. Throughout its network of 130+offices in 55+ countries and 15+ specialized companies, Wunderman speaks the customer’slanguage—whatever the dialect—at the right time, creating profitable conversations thatbuild brands and generate sales. Visit us at©2011 Wunderman. All Rights Reserved. 7