Transformational Travel Marketing Marketing "engine" for travel promotions gives a big boost to leads, SEO and content.
We were hired in September 2012 to lead and transform the Marketing department of a national (U.S.-based) Travel Management company — at the time nearly $150 million in annual sales. We helped grow the company to over $300 million in 2015, when it was acquired by a $4 billion global travel management company.
Following the company's acquisition, we were tapped to head the company's North America marketing efforts as well as a 30-person technology team that built complex travel booking websites for large bank cardholder loyalty programs serving over 22 million cardholders. The North America marketing team supported over $1.5 billion in sales during the 2017 fiscal year.
"$4 Billion Global Travel Management Company"
Travel, Loyalty Programs
Areas of Focus
When we were first engaged, the company's marketing department relied heavily on traditional direct mail and print advertising to attract consumers interested in vacation packages, cruises and tours (the "B2C" side). The company also provided corporate travel services, built and maintained a handful of smaller travel loyalty programs, offered "host agency services" to home-based travel agents, and built "travel club" programs for various affinity groups and credit unions (the "B2B" side).
Growth Hacking SEO
One of the first challenges was getting SEO back on track with regards to the B2C side of the business. Organic (B2C) website traffic had dropped more then 75% over the course of about 18 months from approximately 40,000 monthly unique users to just over 10,000 unique users per month.
To solve the problem, we architected and built Travel4Me, a SEO content marketing "engine" that (a) increased annual organic website traffic 966% (from approximately 10,000 monthly unique visitors to just over 115,000 unique monthly visitors) to levels never before seen, (b) generated a 124% average annual increase in website leads, and (c) contributed significant annual co-op marketing dollars directly to the company's bottom line from the participation of all major cruise lines and vacation/tour suppliers using the platform to deliver promotional campaigns via email, landing pages and web retargeting.
Travel4Me served as a curated set of the very best travel promotions available in the market at any time, from the most in-demand cruise lines and vacation / tour companies. Details of each promotion in the Travel4Me system could be found on its own dedicated landing page featuring the ability for the user to instantly share the promotion via their own social media feeds. Each promotion was "tagged" by interest catagories that tied to a simple way for the user to filter offers by personal interest.
Since Travel4Me represented a significant, constant stream of SEO-optimized, socially shareable, fresh content for the company's website, and since it succeeded in engaging users with relevant offers, Google ranking algorithms responded favorably and organic traffic greatly increased 966% over the course of just four years.
The Travel4Me marketing "engine" was then extended to the company's cardholder loyalty platforms serving over 22 million cardholders to deliver personalized travel recommendations on the individual user level based on factors such as past purchase history, website product browsing / affinities, geolocation. Once collected, this user-level data was available to share with call center representatives to improve the customer experience for those customers seeking to book travel by phone instead of via the website.
Under The Hood
The foundation of the Travel4Me marketing "engine" was a custom content management system (CMS) used by the company's marketing team to input details of promotions available from participating cruise lines and vacation suppliers. The CMS delivered content to over 1,500 different website properties via a comprehensive set of APIs. It also enabled the marketing team to tag individual promotions by supplier (e.g. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Sandals Resorts, etc.), by interest (e.g. luxury, family, adventure, etc.) and by destination (e.g. Caribbean, Hawaii, London, etc.) — all used to call-out personalized recommendations around the "profile" established for each unique website visitor.
Landing pages built from the content in the Travel4Me system included (a) code to enable easy social media sharing by the user (employing "open graph tags"), (b) code to generate programmatic retargeting ads so users who showed interest in a particular promotion might encounter that same promotion in online ads as they surfed the web, and (c) code to note the user's interests; for example, each time the user selected a "family friendly" offer to view, this was noted in the user's online "profile" to enable better targeting of relevant offers on return visits to the website.
Travel4Me garnered considerable recognition in the travel industry, winning Cunard Line's "Hundred Grand" grand prize, as well as the coveted Travel Weekly Magellan Gold and Silver awards.
This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.
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