Using DRTV to Drive Online Travel Reservations

By Beth Vendice President, Mercury Media Boston | November 14, 2010

Despite the growth of the Internet, social media, and mobile media usage, no company can afford to ignore the continued growth of TV. It is the ultimate audience driver and, for the travel industry, it continues to be the best way to communicate your most compelling offer. In fact, The Travel Channel's CEO Ken Lowe recently told Mediaweek that direct response accounted for more than 30 percent of his business.

Lately, we've given a lot of thought to the integration of TV and digital media. From our point of view, TV is the driver of everything, including online reservations. On the surface, using DRTV to drive online reservations may seem like an easy and straightforward solution. Just list a URL along with the 800 number at the bottom of your commercial, right? Wrong. There are a lot of considerations a DRTV advertiser needs to make when integrating online data capture and reservations with a successful TV spot. We've identified the top ten, and they go for beyond the simple listing of a URL.

1. Define your objectives

This is not the old sales and marketing cliche. You need to pinpoint exactly why you are driving customers online from a TV spot. If your property or destination lacks historical customer data, adding online registration capabilities to your website can serve as an excellent way to begin collecting that data. If your destination offers a lot of package options and local tourist attractions, like Colonial Williamsburg, it may be the perfect candidate you may choose to drive potential customers to a more expansive web resource that you have housed on your website – serving first as an informational resource and second as a booking mechanism. This approach will also allow you to collect more information about potential visitors by monitoring what they are looking at on your website and asking them for contact information for follow up materials. If you are simply trying to entice existing customer to book successive trips to a familiar destination, using traditional direct response methods should do the trick.

2. Define the proper creative for the TV spot

The reason you would use DRTV to drive online reservations is complex. Enticing a customer to call immediately to book a travel reservation or to get more information about a destination is a very visual project. The images use have to look so compelling that the customer just has to see more. If you are a familiar destination or property, you may be able to simply offer an 800 number and limited time offer to entice reservations. However, when you're asking customers to go to a website to learn more about a less familiar property, your pitch needs to promise valuable information. The website you're asking customer to go to should be a compliment to your TV spot. So think of the TV spot as a promise for more information, along with compelling images that make the viewer want to learn more.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.