Back in early 2020 as I sat with my marketing team looking at what the coming season would look like we had a pretty strong playbook. A book built from several years of consistent data showing where our customers came from, when they were likely to arrive and what products they were likely to purchase. Sound familiar?
I am guessing if you have been in the travel industry for more than the last 18 months then you probably had a similar set of data that allowed you to forecast and plan for each season.
And then, the world got flipped upside down and the playbooks got torn up.
I have since moved on from working with an operator to the world of software but I do look back fondly on those times when we knew with some degree of certainty that our plans would work because they are based on solid data.
Now, when I speak with our customers and partners across the globe I hear all the time, we are not sure what this year will be like, only the other day a customer said to me “we hoped this would be at least a good summer… now with new restrictions it is not even looking like it will be good” this sentiment is echoed across our customer base and across the industry.
So how do we predict the future travel intent, can we assume familiar trends will return? How do you best invest your final reserves into winning customers in the future? Well I’ve never been a fan of assuming because as they say, when you assume, you make and ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’!
But do not fret Google may just have the answer! They have recently launched Travel Insights with Google which is a tool to help the travel industry view search data from millions of people all over the world. The data is aggregated and anonymous so you do not get to see where Bob from Boise or Julie from Genoa are planning on taking their vacation but you do get a large data set to show the search queries and hence likelihood of people to travel to a destination from a long list of countries.
On the face of it, this is a positive move from Google, giving data back to the industry, for free! It will no doubt be useful to many businesses and tourism bodies as they plan for the future in such uncertain times.
Of course, the cynic in me says this is not just an altruistic move by Google to level the playing field and put easily digestible big data in the hands of the little guy. This is simply a way to help advertisers create more targeted Ad campaigns and increase ROAS and hence encourage more Ad spend. A clever ploy to encourage Ad spending in a market that was once a major revenue generator for the Ad giant and one which was switched off in March 2020 and has been slow to return.
For now, I will be keeping an eye on Travel Insights with Google and I will be geeking out over the numbers to see how it might support my marketing efforts. What do you think about this move from Google, is this Altruism or a (not so) subtle money grab?
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