A Tale of 21st Century Travel

By Matt Duffy, Associate Director, Client Strategy and Development

During a recent trip to Colorado, I decided to keep a running log of items related to my trip in which I used the internet to help coordinate my travel or entertainment. Though it’s so common nature and routine to turn to the web for nearly everything in one’s life, it was still somewhat alarming to document the level of dependency I have with digital technology, something I rarely sit back to analyze. Here is the chronology of events and later I’ll discuss the implications for advertisers.

The Communication: To begin, before beginning my voyage I was in correspondents with some close friends who live in the area via email to ensure their schedules were free. Email ….check.

The Flight: I next visited Google, searched for ‘Southwest’, visited their website to find the ideal flight with regard to times and pricing, and made a purchase online. Itinerary sent to the hosting party.

The Car: Taking the similar path as the above Flight purchase, did the exact same process for the rental car. Mission accomplished.

The Weather: Visited ‘Weather.com’ to check out the forecast the afternoon before departure. Clear Skies and 75 Degrees await.

The Directions: MapQuest. Denver Airport to 903 Exposition Ave near Washington Park…..approximately 24 minutes away.

The Boarding Pass: Checked in and ready to go 18hrs in advance. To those familiar with the Southwest ‘first come, first serve’ seating process of lining travelers at the gate pre-board, thought you’d appreciate my loading position was B13….eager bunch this group. Checked in early and still middle of the pack. Nice window seat near the rear of the plane.

The Dinner Reservation: Favorite Sushi spot in Boulder….Sushi Tora. Corner of 10th and Pearl….8pm reservation. Visited sushitora.net to get the number, (303) 444.2280….highly recommended.

The Game: Colorado Rockies hosting the Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday September 9th. Locked in tickets mid-day online, with pick-up at Will Call. Rock’s win in walk-off fashion, 4 to 3 in the bottom of the Ninth.

The Flight (Round #2): Two days into the trip, I decided to extend my trip by one night…back online for revising the itinerary. 8 min process.

The Boarding Pass (Round #2): Night before. Position B3…..getting better.

With the lone exception of making the call for the dinner reservation, I didn’t have to speak with one person live to find the information I needed. Often when I have made an effort to call a hotel or rental car phone line for booking assistance in the past, the first thing they ask is if I’ve tried to make the arrangements online, and even give me incentive to do so as at times there are service charges associated to reservations made over the phone.

In one comical experience, a few years back, I was planning for a trip abroad and decided to use a travel agent for assistance in an effort to save some money on fares. I physically started laughing out loud when I saw the agent turn to her computer and visit “Expedia.com.”

The thing that struck me most about this entire process was the number of ads I was exposed to by taking matters into my own hands. While visiting the airlines, I had flight offers for other trips at all times, along with complimentary options of renting a car in my desired location. By checking out the weather online in a given area, I again saw competitive offers for hotels and credit cards related to earning points through travel. Simply emailing back and forth with my friends related to Colorado and the Rockies playing at Coors Field, I offered up a little piece of myself by summoning advertisers to show me ads for ski packages this winter, or baseball apparel at a discounted rate.

With the vast majority of consumers turning to the online space when it comes to travel, marketers in this vertical have countless platforms and opportunities to insert their brand into a consumer’s consideration set. Though the personal contact and customer service in travel preparation may be a thing of the past, I for one absolutely love the freedom and hassle-free experience the digital space allows me. With its ease of use, mass amount of results related to travel options, and confidence that I’ll be able to effortlessly locate the information I need with the click of a mouse, this is definitely a habit that will remain consistent.

It’s important for advertisers, especially in the travel vertical, to understand how their consumer’s behavior has shifted and the benefits of having a strong presence at every touch point of the purchase and information gathering cycle. As one who loves to travel, I’m more than happy to be exposed to ads throughout this process to enjoy the luxuries of the expedited booking process the digital space allows.

It’s clear my travel agent lives online. Advertisers must too.


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