It isn’t just Fairmont. A research report released last month by Skift found Facebook has made meaningful inroads to travel retargeting budgets and commands industry attention despite Google’s dominance in the travel-advertising funnel.
“Travel marketing is so performance-driven that a huge toke of global digital dollars go into search,” said Jackie Lamping, VP of marketing at the travel performance marketing agency Sojern, which worked with Fairmont on its Facebook DTA product testing.
Travel marketers said Facebook's DTA product still requires fine-tuning.
“Facebook’s done well from a performance standpoint for other categories, but they haven’t had a lot of traction with travel until recently,” Lamping said.
Some of the product refinements she anticipates from Facebook include the ability to plug in a destination’s star rating, which is strongly correlated to the performance of hotel ads, check-in and check-out dates and real-time room pricing and availability.
Georgas described Facebook’s travel ad product as now leaving phase one and entering the next phase where ideally it could incorporate real-time data to provide firm rates for a specific trip, which change constantly and must be consistent across the many sites and platforms that sell rooms for the same hotel.
Fairmont’s DTA tests showed mobile accounting for 80% of first impressions, despite underperforming at the point of conversion. Instead of chasing online travel agencies for high-intent travel searches from Google at the bottom of the funnel, Fairmont would like to head off those customers at Facebook, where the hotel could theoretically take the booking itself instead of sharing it with a metasearch site.
Facebook also hasn’t tapped its growing pool of video content for travel and hospitality brands.
“Travel consumers look at a lot of video content before making a decision when they’re choosing between a hotel or a city,” Lamping said, adding that Facebook/Instagram has a leg up on YouTube as the kind of acquaintance-driven content that most impacts trip planners.
“Being able to cater that more to travel brands and potentially combine a video offering with real-time pricing and travel dates could be massive.”