3 Takeaways from the Digital Travel Marketing Conference

Estimated Reading Time 7 minutes

How can travel companies make the most of digital marketing to personalise and engage customers.

The Digital Travel Marketing Conference was billed as Europe’s premier one-day digital marketing event aimed at sharing insight by major players in the travel industry.

The event was held at The London Kensington Hilton on 28th September 2017 and focused on  topics close to many in the travel sector, mainly –  how to build and grow their travel brands in a challenging and diversified digital environment.

In other words, what was the best way to generate impressive returns on investment (ROI) & attribute channel performance – by creating compelling customer journeys which could capitalise on the latest digital, social & tech innovations.

The event was organised by the dynamic duo of Jane Spooner and Elena Surace, directors of GIC – Global Insight Conferences.

So, how did it fair? What did we learn? What can we apply and what were the main takeaways?

To look at this fairly, I will give my personal view and state that I along with my team at Digital Clarity were sponsors of the event and so had the opportunity to also sit in on the talks by the some notable names in the travel business who are driving digital change.

The event was opened by David Bulman, CTO of Bourne Leisure and the first subject was Engaging Social Media, driven by Tim Mcloughlin of Hotels.com. A frank and detailed look at how using and repurposing of content across various channels helps with engagement.

One of the most enjoyable talks (for me) was by Michael Briggs, Head of SEO & Content Strategy at Skyscanner. An irreverent approach that was both compelling and had practical takeaways.

My 3 top thought points are listed below.

Blending PPC & SEO

Michael Briggs of Skyscanner

Q. If I am top of the natural search engine results, will running PPC on brand terms enhance or cannibalise my results?

A. Test. Use Google Analytics to analyse and evaluate. Break down segments of keywords and look at time of day and device traffic. E.g. are mobile users clicking on PPC ads or are they going straight to my top natural listing? This was one of a number of topics discussed by Michael Briggs of Skyscanner who use internal experimentation to look at the impact of keyword search behaviour across other channels such as Social Media.

Email Marketing & SEO

Komal Hayer of Pure360  

Q. Does my email campaign affect my SEO traffic?

A. In short, yes. In a recent campaign with a large home improvement supplier that sends out 3 email campaigns every week. When when one campaign was not sent, it was assumed that it would have no impact and that life would carry on as normal. It wasn’t till later that day in the early afternoon that the SEO team saw a sharp decline in traffic.

Benchmarking – as one should do, the company realised that the regular emails were a key driver for traffic as well as web site conversions – in many cases prompting customers that were looking to buy previously and had abandoned their basket, to re-engage with their purchase.

Paid Search (PPC) & Call Tracking  

Michael Feeney of Response Tap & Jennie Webster, Head of Digital at Neilson Active Holidays

Q.  From click to conversion, what role does the telephone play in the attribution funnel? Can we be a pure play online booking engine

A.  Answering the second part first, yes you can – however you will be a price only portal. This portal ( a marketplace) will compete with all the other pricing portals as a gateway to other service providers.

The answer to the second question is more important. After Michael Feeney gave some excellent examples of call tracking, Jennie Webster, a client of Response Tap gave a workable example of how Neilson Active Holidays customers would call for advice, pricing, and other general questions along the whole booking process, thus enabling their customers a better experience online whilst giving them confidence to buy at any stage of the booking journey – from research to sign-up.


In summing up, these are just three of many fascinating insight to the uniques world of travel, an industry that over the last few years has changed beyond all recognition; and shows every sign of continuing to innovate and and adapt to the needs of travelers.

What is clear is that those that adapt to change will win. This change will be driven by digital marketing and in many cases, facilitated by digital platforms but both controlled by intelligent humans.

If you would like more insight into how digital is transforming travel or would like to discuss your project, please contact the team on the details below.

Reggie James
Having built and sold various technology businesses over the years, Reggie heads the consultancy and commercial side of the business. Approachable and pragmatic, Reggie previously ran the first dot-com to list on the Singapore Stock Exchange as well as developing business strategies for brands whilst at AltaVista and Yahoo! before launching Digital Clarity. As a passive investor, he is also involved in the US public OTC markets.