Posted by: montegroup | April 28, 2008

Are UGC Travel Sites Too Far Down the Funnel?

A previous post on the ‘top travel sites’ generated a comment from a reader in the UK; the question was around sites like TripAdvisor being too far down the consideration funnel for it to yield positive ROI for advertisers?

So are UGC or Travel blog style sites like TripAdvisor, VirtualTourist or RealTravel too far down the consideration for advertisers to be successful?

Some marketers feel that users going to these sites already know where they’re going, perhaps they don’t have the itinerary built but they already have the flight booked or at least have already made up their mind of where they’re going.

So part of the argument is around view throughs and post click conversions – are these sites getting too much credit? I guess this is similar to Search marketing, where many marketers feel that Search has been getting too much credit for conversions.

I don’t have a study nor the insights to answer the question, with certainty, above so I reached to the folks at TripAdvisor and VirtualTourist for their thoughts.

Jim Brody from TA said that about 2/3 of users to their site don’t know where they’re going and are there conducting travel research; this data has been gathered via focus groups the company has held.

Jim also mentioned that DMO’s are seeing great results and thus far over 140 DMO’s have worked with TA with the number growing steadily.

Susan Edds from VT provided us with the following insight.

“VT’s users are actively researching their travel options on many levels – whether it’s seeking a new destination, or specific activities to enjoy when they arrive.

VT travel forums are a great resource and indication for the many types of travel inquiries on VirtualTourist. The users engage with prominent members of the community to get great answers from people who have already seen the sights and taken the trips. For example, a VT employee just posted a forum posting for some preliminary research on summer destinations that would be suitable for traveling with his pregnant wife. Others inquire about the top activities to try if they have a limited time in a particular place.

Member xyz asked, “What should I see, what should I skip?” on his first visit to the Big Apple. Within 24 hours, he received 5 replies with insider tips on the best times to avoid crowds at the major attractions.

Therefore, Tourism Bureaus and DMO’s are both excellent partners to run on travel research websites. Due to the nature of the content on VT, DMOs are perhaps the better choice between the two.

The site focuses mostly on leisure travel activities organized by destination, so the audience – at least while spending time on VirtualTourist – is most concerned with vacation choices instead of dates and accommodations for business conventions. Within the past year, VirtualTourist has had over 36 CVB/ DMO advertisers from all around the globe.”

Thanks to Jim and Susan for sharing.

If you have any thoughts or have done post click conversion studies please be sure to leave your comment.

As you know it’s all about sharing – UGC!!!

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