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Mobile Penetrates Facebook Travel and Produces Healthy ROI Offspring

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Looks that way.

As “far back” as 2012, Blackbox claimed there were more than one billion smartphones globally. Fast forward to 2014, January 6 to be exact. A report by MobiThinking says that this year 79.2 percent of Internet users will access the web from a mobile device.

Do I care?

Not really unless I’m a travel marketer and need to grasp that combining the power of mobile penetration, Social Media and targeted ads may be the answer to travel’s search for the Holy Grail of ROI. Where the best place to do this?
Facebook, of course!
It already boasts more than 101 million US daily mobile users, making up a huge, 78% of its 128 million daily US users, says Techcrunch.

Facebook is king

The travel industry is still pretty much mired in a print, pretty ads and glossy brochures.
But some of the sector realize that Facebook is king when it comes to travel: More than 42 percent of stories shared on Facebook are travel related.

All those images, and stories and happy travelers’ tales posted minute by minute on the site really stimulate dreaming and planning about travel. This year, Facebook’s sales efforts will emphasize narrow verticals, especially travel.

The Five Stages of Travel

Facebook has already mastered the critical five stages of travel:
• Dreaming
• Planning
• Booking,
• Experiencing
• and finally, Reflecting.

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GulfBusiness noted, impressively, that 52% of the site’s users said that when they view Facebook, they already “started dreaming about a holiday even when they didn’t have one booked.

Not only is travel one of the most talked about topics on Facebook, tellingly, it’s how friends and family learn about their friends’ and families’ travel. The pictures and comments of friends and families intensify the desire to travel, stimulate the “dreaming and planning” stage more than TV ads and mailers of empty beaches.

And Finally ROI

So what did Starwood Hotels and Resorts do at a recent travel conference in Singapore? Simple, says, TTGAsia. They placed targeted ads and tracked buyers directed from its Facebook page and saw its ROI grow by 35 percent which of course is measured by an increase in room bookings.

They also noted a “significant” increase in travelers accessing Starwood ads on Facebook by mobile devices and making bookings on the run.
That’s consistent with an HEBS report noting that industry-wide more than 35% of web visitors and nearly 32% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet), creating an increase of more than 12% of bookings, room nights and revenue. But Social Media and mobile penetration have value only if they are combined with targeting.

Targeting whom?
How about those planning to travel.
Or who have visited a property or destination.
Or who plan their travel on Facebook.

MarketingWeek says that since 95% of Facebook users who were queried said they “use Facebook for travel related activities prior to going on vacation, ” so it’s logical that Andy Pang, of Facebook UK, is encouraging travel companies to advertise on the site. He promises Facebook will improve targeting so travel brands can address “travel intenders,” : consumers who may not even know they are planing to travel.

But, the pitch goes, those consumers will travel, once they engage the travel advertising on Facebook, and will do so increasingly by mobile.

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