Market smarter to reach the right Canadian travellers in their travel planning journey

The importance of data in digital marketing campaigns cannot be overstated. Many case studies exist showing how campaign performance can be significantly improved by integrating intent- or interest-based data into campaigns to ensure that the right people are being reached with the right messaging.

In this automotive case study, intent, interest and proprietary 1st party data was layered into campaigns to generate 80% more conversions. The travel industry is no different to the automotive industry – except that it is different. What I mean by that is no matter the industry, using data in campaigns is paramount to reaching the right audience. But, as industries are different, so too is the audience of potential customers, and integrating data will help to identify the audiences that are most likely to convert.

In this first of two posts, I will be looking at the importance of using data in travel marketing campaigns to ensure the right audience of potential customers is being reached with messaging that is most likely to appeal to them. In the second post, I will cover how getting the timing of campaigns right is integral to maximizing a campaign’s success.


Travel and tourism is among the highest performing sectors of the global economy, experiencing average growth of 4% and generating over $1 trillion of annual revenue (Source: Tourism Industry Association of Canada – TIAC), and Canada is a highly sought after international destination. In 2012, international tourists in Canada generated $17.4 billion, and domestic travellers spent over $65 billion in the same year.

One of the problems that Canada has in terms of attracting more international visitors lies in its marketing, as the TIAC goes on to explain. “The power of a coordinated approach to exponentially grow returns is plainly obvious in the destination marketing field. The best example of this is the industry’s dilemma with respect to marketing to the US. With a population of over 300 million and a plethora of interesting places in their backyards, getting the attention of American travellers is a large undertaking”.

Marketers need to have a better understanding of who their potential customers are in order to market to them with the right type of messaging that is going to appeal to them the most. There are different types of searchers, and they are going to respond differently to various marketing messages. This is key to ensuring that the marketing campaigns executed have the highest potential for conversion.

Destination Canada breaks Canadian and international travellers into specific segments, with different traits and behaviours. For example, Canadian “Free Spirit” travellers will respond to destinations that offer activities and entertainment, with a focus on social events and festivals. The “Cultural Explorer”, however, wants to hear about a destination’s scenery, and immersive experiences that are offered. The “Gentle Explorer”, the largest traveller segment in Canada, representing 25% of all travellers, is more likely to engage with marketing messages that focus on brand names hotels, simple fun, and familiar food/drink. A solid understanding of the different profiles of traveller, in different countries, will help DMOs ensure their marketing dollars are being spent in the most effective way, by driving the traveller to a conversion with appealing messaging.

In addition to using the personas created by Destination Canada, marketers can get another step ahead of the competition by integrating interest-based data into campaigns in order to target audiences that fall into the specific categories identified above. At Mediative, when a consumer searches for something travel-related using our proprietary search tools, we tag and categorize them in our database based on their interest or intent. We then match their intent with a relevant message which will be displayed on the next webpages that the consumer visits. Mediative can aggregate travellers with like-minded purchase intents and ensure that advertisers can promote their travel-related products and services to consumers currently in the process of planning the details of their trip.

Knowing who to target is only one piece of the puzzle however. It’s also necessary to understand the devices that travel researchers are using to ensure your messaging is front and centre, where travellers are looking. In 2014 eMarketer predicted that 128.8 million people in the US will research travel on the internet this year, of whom, 47.4% will do so via mobile. Meanwhile, 106.3 million people will actually book travel online, including 31.6% of the total who will book travel on their mobile devices

ThinkwithGoogle reports that:

  • Social Networking (83%) and Search Engines (61%) top the sources of online inspiration.
  • 60% of leisure travellers reported using search engines in the planning of their travel, with 55% of business travellers reporting the same.

In conclusion, travel marketers must be smart when it comes to reaching potential travelers, and a “one size fits all” approach is not the most optimal:

  1. Incorporating data into campaigns is critical to reaching the right audience at the right stage in their travel planning, which will maximize conversion opportunities.
  2. Not all travellers are the same – leisure travellers behave differently to business travellers in terms of travel research, planning and booking.
  3. Even within the segments of “leisure” and “business” travellers, there are very distinct profiles of traveller, as defined by Destination Canada. Attracting the different type of traveller to various destinations will require specific marketing to that traveller profile.
  4. Once you know who you are targeting, and have crafted messaging that is most likely to appeal to them, make sure you are reaching them on the right device or platform, otherwise, marketing efforts will not be as effective as anticipated.

In my next post on travel marketing, I highlight how getting the timing of campaigns right is integral to maximizing a campaign’s success.

Rebecca Maynes
Rebecca Maynes is Mediative’s Manager, Content Marketing and Research. Her expertise lies in the creation of engaging thought leadership for Mediative. From compiling eBooks and case studies, to conducting research, analyzing data and writing white papers and reports, Rebecca is an integral part of Mediative’s Marketing and Research team. Rebecca began her career with in England, and, after emigrating to Canada in 2005, she has gone full circle, joining Mediative, a Yellow Pages Group Company, in 2009. Prior positions include Marketing for a B2B Software company. Rebecca graduated from Cardiff University in Wales, UK, with a First Class Honours BSc in Business Administration.