Sustainability at “absolute forefront” of destination marketing success: ADARA

Sustainability at “absolute forefront” of destination marketing success: ADARA

Travel Weekly recently caught up with ADARA’s regional sales director, Luke Donkin, to talk all things travel marketing and the power of data…

TW: How has the destination marketing landscape evolved over time? How it will continue to change?

LD: Sustainability will become the absolute forefront of all destination marketing efforts moving forward, especially as tourism stakeholders – extending well beyond governmental organisations to encompass private companies, local communities and even taxpayers – are demanding greater accountability from destination marketers not only in driving arrivals and economic investment, but ensuring that the travellers that arrive are those of the highest value, don’t encroach on the environment, nor intrude on the locals of the destination. We only have to look at what has been happening in terms of overtourism in Bali or Venice to understand the urgent need for destination marketing to move to a more sustainable approach.

Destination marketers are also gradually embracing quantitative measurements of destination marketing effectiveness as a means of proving their role as tourism business drivers who channel economic benefits to their respective markets.

While there are a variety of generic success metrics for marketing campaigns, destination marketers face the additional challenge of ensuring quality precision mapping between destination marketing efforts and destination revenues. As the tourism industry continues to grow for many markets around the world, such accountability and attribution will only gain greater importance.

A key challenge often cited by destination marketers today is the lack of quality data and proof points to ground their marketing strategies in. Destination marketing will, therefore, grow to become even more sophisticated in the years to come, with a specific focus on measuring economic impact. The industry will move towards creating more holistic and comprehensive quantifiable metrics of destination marketing effectiveness that go beyond micro factors such as tourist satisfaction levels, to encompass macro factors, such as economic impact on the market.

TW: How well are travel marketers leveraging data insights across the Asia Pacific? What could they be doing better?

LD: While travel marketers are leveraging data insights, the data set any single brand has is often not enough to provide a holistic view of the traveller.

Travel marketers need to expand their understanding and interpretation of data by viewing it in the context of wider industry trends or regional prospects of the tourism industry. This can be achieved by expanding the breadth of travel data they are accessing. This is where the sharing of first- and second-party data in a safe and secure way helps to fill these gaps.

TW: What is the biggest challenge for travel marketers going forward? And what’s the biggest opportunity?

LD: While travel marketers have access to more data than ever before, not all data is created equal. In fact, most consumer data does not work for travel brands. In order to make actionable decisions, travel marketers need to use verified data from trusted sources. It is important to ask if the data being used is transparent, if it’s in-market, if it’s being activated in real time. By investing in the right data, travel marketers have the opportunity to move the industry to a place of integrity.

Access to the right data also provides travel marketers the opportunity to engage travellers creatively and authentically. They must do more to ensure that consumers are exposed to desired brand messages or offerings at every touchpoint, regardless if it’s directly or indirectly with the brand. They could identify the channels where data and technology can be harnessed in powerful ways, and leverage them to address the wants, needs and even frustrations of travellers in an efficient and personalised manner, so as to win a greater share of mind with past, present and future customers.

TW: What are some of the current travel trends ADARA is seeing based on data it has gathered for/on brands?

LD: Rapid technological advances have enabled the growing demand for personalisation and automation in the travel industry, both in the Asia Pacific and across the globe. These advancements are being put to use across many aspects of travellers’ experience – from pre-purchase experiences to reservation, staffing, transactions and guest experiences; and will only continue to accelerate and drive change in the coming years.

For instance, most travellers a decade ago had to make travel arrangements via travel agencies prior to departure, yet travellers of today are accustomed to immediacy and convenience – receiving flight information on portable digital devices, going through automated immigration processes and interacting with digital concierges. Digitalisation has also provided travellers with greater freedom and control during the travel planning process, as they now have easy access to boundless travel options.

TW: What’s on the horizon for ADARA in 2019 and beyond? What’s its main focus, and what are clients asking for?

LD: ADARA is looking to expand in high-growth markets across Asia Pacific, with plans in place to continue engaging more partners across the entire spectrum of travel players, to enhance our robust travel data co-op.

Our desire to provide the travel and tourism industry with a clear and precise traveller resolution based on a holistic understanding of the needs and wants of travellers is similarly echoed by our clients, who are seeking comprehensive traveller intelligence to navigate and help shape the ever-evolving travel industry.


Sustainability is the focus of Travel DAZE – the travel industry’s only TED-x style event, with speakers including former Greens leader Bob Brown, TV presenter and Logie winner Costa Georgiadis, and Google travel boss Michelle Allen. Secure your spot at the event here.

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