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Back in May 2022, Anna Au-Yeung, Global Head of Destination Marketing at Travelport, visited Data Appeal in our Florence, Italy headquarters. We took the opportunity to interview her and have an open discussion about tourism trends and one of our favorite topics: data-driven destinations.

Together, we analyzed how international destinations leverage sentiment, search and booking data to build a better travel experience and launch marketing campaigns that resonate in the minds and hearts of travelers.

During our chat, we discussed this year’s top tourism trends, new traveler attitudes and how DMOs have the opportunity to relaunch and flourish after the travel outage caused by the global pandemic.

Check out our interview with Anna below.

1 – Anna, what does the concept of data-driven destinations mean for Travelport and your clients?

I think, for data-driven destinations, the main essence is data itself at different touchpoints. For example, from searching for or booking a destination, it’s crucial to understand customer behaviors, while, for post-trip, destinations must analyze and evaluate reviews and customer sentiment. 

It’s not just about quantitative data, related to bookings and search data, but also qualitative data, as mentioned above. Reviews can help the stakeholders to identify where the gaps are and even help improve products – through product management and development.

Of course, other data trends help stakeholders with planning and marketing. It also supports managers and marketers evaluating performance and ROI. From every touchpoint, tourism destinations need data. 

“For data-driven destinations, the main essence is data itself at different touchpoints.”

Anna Au-Yeung – Travelport

2 – What sort of requests do you get from DMOs? What are their pain points and how do they differ from region to region? How do you address this from a Travelport point of view?

Over the past few years during the pandemic, no one knew what was going on or ever imagined the pandemic to last so long. For destinations and their stakeholders, they were unsure about the best steps to take.

So how can we help them? First off, with Travelport’s booking and search data, we help destinations identify the most strategic opportunities: which market is recovering faster?; which market is less impacted by travel restrictions? This data and information is invaluable.

Other destinations asked us to help identify or allocate their resources. For example, we observed that the US market shows strong outbound searches and bookings. So when we work with our European clients, mostly tourism boards, we encourage them to focus on the US market in their campaigns.

The results are in the data – during the campaign period, we observed that US visitors coming into Italy is higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The above is just an example of how we use data to help DMOs and tourism boards leverage data to plan and launch campaigns and track results.

3 – We’re big believers in the importance of analyzing data to derive insights, because data itself doesn’t have much value if customers can’t interpret it or take action. What’s your opinion on this?

I absolutely agree. Some of the tourism boards we work with have experienced their already-limited resources being cut, especially US DMOs as their funding comes from a hotel tax. Of course, during the pandemic, there were no hotel guests and therefore, no hotel tax. As a result, many accomodations had to let go of their staff and shrink marketing resources. 

So we asked ourselves: what can we do? How can we use our data to help them to prepare? How can we support and empower hotels and DMOs to survive and thrive? 

“There’s so much data and information on the market, so it’s important we link the data together and derive actionable insights.”

Anna Au-Yeung – Travelport

4 – We definitely agree – it’s all about accessibility, democratizing information and making it accessible and affordable for everyone. How do your customers, specifically tourism destinations, take advantage of the search and booking data that you provide them?

As I touched upon earlier, it’s really helpful to identify strategic opportunities for DMOs and tourism boards. For example, we can zoom into particular periods and markets to pinpoint trends and recovery patterns.

The booking lead time in general, within a region, is shorter because people aren’t 100% sure about the restrictions. Many travelers wait and see if they see the border is open and what the anti-Covid measures are before they book a flight.
Meanwhile, the UK market is famous for a longer booking time… and now it’s even longer. So that’s why we really need to zoom into every source market and segment to see what’s happening and where other opportunities are, especially when it comes to hotel and flight searches.

Another KPI to take note of is the trip length. I live in Hong Kong and we still have really strict quarantines, it was 21, then 14 and now seven days we’re required to quarantine upon return from vacation abroad.

For this reason, many of us book trips longer than one month to make the most out of our vacation times.

So how can we share these insights with tourism boards? They must remain aware of high-potential markets, even in the longer term, to stay top of mind for tourists.

“We really need to zoom into every source market and segment to see what’s happening and where other opportunities are.”

Anna Au-Yeung – Travelport

5 – What travel trends do you foresee over the next few years? Hopefully, a post-Covid future…

There are a couple of new trends we’ve recently observed. 

  • Firstly, during the pandemic, we had lots of lockdowns and restrictions, all negative experiences, but the positive side is the development and adoption of mobile technology. People are getting used to using their smartphones to check in, upgrade and especially everything else.
    So how can you collect this behavior data? This is becoming increasingly relevant for suppliers.
  • We also observed the luxury market bounce back faster than expected. In one of our campaigns, we detected several bookings hit average rates over $2,500.
  • Another trend is VFR (visiting friends and relatives). Many travelers are optioning to visit their loved ones instead of the traditional beach, mountain and city vacations we have grown accustomed to seeing.
  • Also, in the past, many travelers wanted to see the main attractions. Nowadays, they’re shifting from big cities to secondary itineraries and regions. Many of which are outdoor and nature activities, away from the crowds. From this simple perspective, it’s prime time for DMOs and tourism boards to promote outdoor getaways and sustainable tourism.

6 – Before we conclude, we have some exciting news to share: The Data Appeal Company and Travelport are collaborating to develop new features within Data Appeal Studio, our territory analysis platform for DMOs. This collaboration was the result of Data Appeal winning the Travelport Accelerator in 2021. What contributed to your choice and how do you think we’ll impact the world of destinations together?

During Data Appeal’s pitch, we were really interested in your qualitative data – reviews, social posts, and travel sentiment and satisfaction. Travelport can identify when people search and book travel for select destinations, but we also see the tremendous value in Data Appeal’s ability to answer the ‘why’. Destinations really want to understand traveler behaviors and the causes behind them.

What do travelers like and dislike about their experience? Why do they choose certain places to eat, sleep and shop at? Is there room for improvement? 

Tourism boards can take these insights and share them with stakeholders for development, improvement, and benchmarking.  They can also attract new customers based on these insights through their promotions. 

This collaboration is critical, because both of our datasets and combined insights are part of the same visitor journey, linking everything together. 

Curious to learn more about our datasets for tourism boards and DMOs? Explore our solutions for Tourism destinations.

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