Multichannel attribution is hot topic for travel marketers. Tom Bacon shares three tips for getting it right
As we all know, most travel planning has become more complex, less one-dimensional. Loyalty, email, and social media, among other customer acquisition strategies, can work together in complex ways to drive incremental purchases.
Listening to the industry at a recent EyeforTravel event, the general consensus seemed to be that the average hotel customer visits 18 different sites over 17 days in eight unique sessions before making a booking.
The average hotel search: 17 days / 18 sites / 8 sessions / 16 clicks
So travel suppliers really do need to change how they think about travel marketing. And the first thing they need to do is shift from a one channel to multi/omni-channel approach.
…it is effectively the whole process that now drives bookings
Here is why. If travellers are accessing so many different sites to make their travel decisions, it’s misleading to attribute success to any one platform or site or initiative. Potentially, a supplier would not gain any more bookings by focusing on a single initiative since it is effectively the whole process that now drives bookings. So-called ‘last click’ attribution – or associating bookings exclusively with what platform/site was used last – can lead to sub-optimal allocation of marketing resource or attention.
One major travel supplier sharply reduced advertising dollars when their analysis showed that few customers purchased their services based on ads. This analysis, however, neglected the potential role of ads as one step in a multi-step purchase decision process.
New multi-channel attribution models should incorporate both online (email, social media, etc) and offline (print and TV advertising, events) engagements with customers. Merging the two worlds (online and offline) can be very challenging as customer engagements with offline initiatives are generally more macro, less direct and thus more difficult to track.
The complexity of the purchase process defies traditional sales funnel analysis as some customers skip steps while others return repeatedly to the same site for updates. The decision path, in fact, may be quite individual.
3 new ways to evaluate customer engagement in a multichannel world:
1. Account for all channels/sites in analysis of booking performance
Rather than last-click attribution, weighting needs to be given to each interaction or engagement with the customer. In the ‘average’ example above, each of the 18 sites visited would be regarded as contributing to the final successful booking.