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Facebook to emerge as an important marketing tool for tourism industry

  • 17 July 2013

In an e-mail interview with T3, Lee McCabe, Head of Travel, Facebook, shares his perspective on how Facebook can benefit travel and tourism companies to grow their reach and business

How would you explain the correlation between Facebook and travel and tourism?

We know more about 1.1 billion people than any other medium. For travel marketers that is invaluable. Facebook is playing an increasingly important role in the travel experience. People on Facebook are influencing booking decisions. Users are updating their status and/or sharing photos while on holiday and they upload holiday’s photo on their return. Travellers are 80 per cent more likely to book a trip from a friend liking a page than they are from responding to traditional advertising. Facebook not only impacts each one, but it has helped to evolve these five stages. Sharing is no longer the last silo stage; it is now at the heart of every stage. The last stage should now be “reflect.”

How can a company benefit from Facebook’s powerful reach in an effective manner?

Facebook helps travel marketers target their key customers by sharing relevant and engaging ads, such as promoted posts with beautiful photos. First and foremost, travel marketers should declare a clear objective of whether it is branding, destination, consideration, performance marketing (booking), etc. When it comes to targeting the right customer, travel marketers have seen the best results using Facebook Exchange and leveraging Custom Audiences. Facebook Exchange allows real-time bidding (RTB) on ad placement and retargeting. RTB lets advertisers bid in real-time on a specific ad impression rather than a larger group, allowing advertisers to show more relevant ads and run more effective campaigns. And, Custom Audiences allows marketers to find their current customers on Facebook and reach them with relevant ads.

Which are the travel companies using Facebook effectively?

We continue to see ourselves as an effective sales channel. Many travel companies use Facebook to see meaningful results. For example, MGM Resorts has done an excellent job using Facebook to acquire new customers, convert them into guests, and ultimately brand loyalists. They have consistently seen returns on ad spend higher than 3X for each stage of the purchase. The brand looks to inspire and engage with their fans through branding and awareness on Facebook that highlights the unique, one-of-a-kind experiences available at each of its resorts.

You recently launched two new products that have the potential to greatly affect hotel traffic: Graph Search and Nearby. What are the salient features of these two products?

Graph Search is exciting, and I believe it will be a game changer for hotels. But, it’s still in its early stages. As we improve Graph Search, we will increase its reach. Nearby is a great example of the convergence of social with local and mobile. Social, local and mobile allows travelers to discover new hotels, restaurants, etc., while they are visiting new places. Nearby makes those recommendations relevant to people on–the-go, identifying places within the area, and providing recommendations from the people they trust: friends and family. Businesses with a Facebook Page and physical location will benefit from this tool.

Is there any plan to launch more products for travel and tourism industry?

We strive to make Facebook a platform for all industries to reach and engage with their respective target audiences. Facebook’s goal is to help businesses of all sizes create ads/build ad campaigns efficiently and effectively based on their goals/objectives. As we continue to develop ad products, it’s important to experiment. Whether your business is big or small, test various products and tools on Facebook to see what type of content is resonating best with your fans, and then we’ll work with you to amplify that. Promoted posts are an easy way to do this – when you see that a post is getting a lot of interaction from your fan base, you can promote this post to spread the word even further i.e. to friends.

How do you see the prospect of using Facebook as an important business tool by Indian travel and tourism industry?

Indian travel and tourism industry can use Facebook just like any business or industry. Facebook’s tool can effectively connect the industry to customers in relevant ways and help grow their business.

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