TwoSix Digital Reflects on Why Travel Matters

This year, the U.S. Travel Association will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week May 5 through May 11. The week is an annual tradition set to celebrate not only the U.S. travel community but also to unite the different values that travel holds for the economy, businesses and personal well-being.

Read more by checking out our Spark page below!

TwoSix Digital Reflects on Why Travel Matters

Longer Video Ads, Algorithm Tweaks and Air Travel Demand

Instagram rolls out 60 second video ads, multiple account switching

Instagram Video AdsWhile there are several reports indicating our attention spans are getting shorter, Instagram is doubling down on video ads by unveiling 60 second ads that will soon be widely available.

A statement from Instagram said the longer video ads would allow advertisers to tell unique stories that better tell their brand message.

Although only a handful of advertisers would have access to these longer video ads (just in time for a certain big game this weekend…) the wider advertiser base would have access at a later date.

Additionally, some iOS users can now switch between multiple Instagram accounts without repeatedly signing out and signing back in. The feature is already available to Android users, but appears to be a slower rollout (for now) on iOS.

Facebook tweaks the news feed algorithm…again

Supposedly Facebook’s new algorithm tweak to newsfeeds may help increase engagement due to qualitative feedback being used to deliver more relevant content to users. To help with this adjustment Facebook is utilizing a team of tens of thousands of users it calls its Feed Quality Panel to rate experiences every day to help improve what kinds of content is served up and cut down posts we don’t care to see.

Two Facebook software engineers explained that this update should not impact reach or referral traffic for most pages. Declines in referral traffic may occur if “the rate at which their stories are clicked on does not match how much people report wanting to see those stories near the top of their News Feed. This update helps rebalance those two factors, so people are seeing relevant stories to them.”

In short, avoid posting and encouraging actions on your posts which may deliver a short term increase in engagement because “temporary spikes in metrics might then be rebalanced by feed’s ranking over time.”

Global demand for air travel surges

Air travel demandThe dark days of the global recession appear to be only memories for the airline industry. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the 2015 global passenger traffic results and the numbers are good. The numbers show demand rose 6.5% last year compared to 2014. This marked the best year since the supposed Financial Crisis rebound of 2010.

These numbers were aided by an increase in capacity and all regions experiencing positive traffic growth, but carriers in the Asia-Pacific region accounted for one-third of the total increase.


International Tourism, Online Travel Sites, Worst Passwords

Uncertainty looms for international tourism in 2016

International tourismDespite strong grown for the past six years, 2016 may mark a downturn in international tourism. In a recent report the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts that international tourism may only grow at a rate of 4% this year – down nearly half a percent from the 4.4% rate seen in 2015. If that report proves accurate that will mark the slowest growth rate since 2009.

UNWTO does identify some reasons for the lower rate prediction, noting that safety and security are among the biggest concerns for travelers.

2015 saw 1.18 billion people travel internationally, up from 256 million during the height of the global recession in 2009.

Study: online travel sites aren’t just about prices

There’s more to what consumers want on travel websites than just the best price. According to a survey by reservation and ecommerce system supplier Atcore, it’s a combination of factors that most consumers look at when deciding who they’ll go through to book travel.

Those factors come down to price, selection, ability to specify details, easy of use and booking several parts of a trip in one spot. The survey found that most sites are lagging on what they promise – according to survey participants.

47% of those surveyed listed booking multiple parts of a trip, advanced search options and filtering to be “must haves” for them while recommendations and trip suggestions were ranked important by only 7%.

Worst Passwords

Worst PasswordsPassword management company, SplashData, has revealed its worst passwords of 2015. We know this is necessarily news, but it is always fun to read. This data is based on more than two million passwords that were leaked last year. There’s some good news and bad news: we’re getting a bit better about making our passwords longer – but not necessarily better. Here are the top ten worst passwords of 2015 and their ranking compared to 2014:

  1. 123456 (Unchanged)
  2. password (Unchanged)
  3. 12345678 (Up 1)
  4. qwerty (Up 1)
  5. 12345 (Down 2)
  6. 123456789 (Unchanged)
  7. football (Up 3)
  8. 1234 (Down 1)
  9. 1234567 (Up 2)
  10. baseball (Down 2)

It’s worth noting that some very topical passwords rounded out the top 25, including starwars and solo. SplashData notes that, for now, the best defense against hackers or thieves is to create a long and random password that is hard to guess.

Custom Newsfeeds, TripAdvisor Bookings, Airfordable

Facebook adding custom newsfeeds?

Facebook Custom NewsfeedsWe’ve reported quite a bit on the ways Twitter is copying Facebook, but now it looks like Facebook may be taking a page from Twitter’s playbook. Category-specific newsfeeds similar to Twitter’s lists have been experimented with since October, according to some reports, but now appear to be rolling out a bit more widely.

In an example tweeted out by Laundry Services’ CEO there appeared to be 13 categories including style, travel and headlines. These feeds seem to include updates and posts from friends and pages being followed – as well as pages that aren’t being followed by someone, but the feeds do appear to offer some customization.

One big point worth noting is that, in the example tweeted out, no ads appeared – but some analysts expect that to change if this new newsfeed option rolls out to the wider Facebook audience.

TripAdvisor offers instant bookings in most popular locations

As TripAdvisor has increased its ability to allow for instant bookings instead of sending visitors to third-party sites so too has its ability to cover the most popular destinations in the world.

A December study by financial firm PiperJaffray found that TripAdvisor’s Instant Bookings covered a whopping 92% of the most popular hotels in the most popular markets in the world. That number is up from only 76% in September and is thinks to the partnership TripAdvisor forged in November. The study involved the top 500 hotels in the top 100 markets.

Airfordable wants to make it…well, affordable, to fly

AirfordableDepending on where you want to go flying isn’t exactly what many would consider “cheap”. However, new startup Airfordable wants to change that and get more people to fly by paying for their tickets in installments.

Airfordable has a $2,000 maximum on tickets it allows right now and does not charge interest like a credit card would – but it does charge a flat 20% service fee it spreads out across all payments. Travelers must pay for one third of the ticket’s cost up front and select if they want to pay off the ticket in biweekly or monthly installments. The founder says she wanted to make traveling easier for those without credit cards or who can’t normally afford to fly. Airfordable says many of its users are people who have used it to plan trips for major life milestones, like honeymoons or anniversaries.

Video Tourism, Easier Custom Audiences, Most Instagrammed Places

Video’s Impact on Tourism

Video and Travel
Attractive and compelling visual elements are easy ways to hook peoples’ imaginations and desires when it comes to travel and tourism. We see something amazing and we want to go. Over the past few years, the rise of video as a medium on mobile devices has grown significantly – and that remains true for tourism as well.

New information from Google UK sheds some light on why people engage with video when researching and looking up information for travel.

  • Nearly 50% of travelers watched video online before deciding where to go on a trip.
  • 65% use video when thinking about taking a trip.
  • 67% are using video when choosing their destination and which activities to enjoy.
  • 63% use video when deciding on accommodations.

While this data is focused on the UK, it provides a good sample example of how important the use of compelling and informational video can be when selecting and planning a trip.

Custom Audiences Made Easier

One of the great tools from Facebook is the ability to create a custom audiences from pixels and email addresses for advertising retargeting. It allows advertisers to reach a specific audience they want to engage with. Fortunately, Facebook is making it even easier to create such groups.
Announced this week, multiple data types with real-time matching will be added to the custom audiences tool. Previously, advertisers were limited to only one type at a time.

This means that the following data types will be used to help match people on Facebook and create a custom audience:

  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Mobile advertiser ID
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • City
  • State
  • ZIP code
  • Country

This change means that by uploading a customer list to the custom audience tool the tool will use more points of data at once to create a list while improving accuracy.

The World’s Most Instagrammed Places

It’s no secret people enjoy posting pictures of their travels and vacations on Instagram. That’s probably why there are more than 353 million pieces of travel-related content on the social platform. However, which places around the world are getting the most attention?
Most Instagrammed Places

According to Skift, these are the top five most geotagged locations on Instagram this year:

  1. Disney Properties
  2. Universal Studios Properties
  3. Times Square, New York City
  4. Central Park
  5. Eiffel Tower

Worth noting is that Disney held the top spot last year as well! For the rest of the top 10 most Instagrammed locations in the world, click here.


Most Popular City, Google Maps Everywhere, Instagram Ads

Most Popular City, Google Maps Everywhere, Instagram Ads

Credit: Mastercard

Top Cities Listed

London is the most popular city in the world. That’s according to Mastercard‘s latest Global Destination Cities Index, ranking 132 destination cities around the world in terms of total international overnight visitor arrivals and cross-border spending. This is the second year in a row London has topped the list. The city is expected to receive more than 18.8 million visitors this year.

While Bangkok came in second in anticipated overnight stays, New York was number two when it came to visitor spending, while London remained at number one.

Google Maps and Nav – Even when Offline!

A major announcement from Google this week: the search giant will begin offering maps and navigation even when a user is offline. This should prove especially helpful for people when they need it most, like traveling internationally where data rates are higher  – or when signal is especially weak and you’re lost (you know, when you need it most!).

This will, undoubtedly, make the decision to use Google much easier for people in developing parts of the world where signal and coverage are unreliable. The function is expected to roll out later this year.

Instagram Buttons up the Ante

A new feature from Instagram will allow a direct response button to be placed on ads. These four different calls to action will allow advertisers and marketers to better reach the audiences they may have previously had difficulty reaching.

The button will appear under and image and be clickable. The function will begin rolling out in limited number in the coming days, but should quickly find promise among those longing for a clickable option for advertisements on the Facebook-owned platform. You can check out what the buttons will look like below.

Instagram Direct Response Buttons

Credit: Instagram

Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Dave Serino PresentingThe 2015 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism was held in Grand Rapids earlier this week. The event was attended by travel and tourism marketers, CVB’s, hoteliers, exhibitors and everyone else in between. The conference provided the perfect backdrop for these people to come together to discuss and learn from different practices around the industry. The keynote was delivered by the first winner of NBC’s The Apprentice, Bill Rancic, who had some inspiration words for everyone in the room. Attendees were also treated to a great presentation on visual storytelling by Sheila Scarborough with Tourism Currents.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley was on hand to announce a venture between Pure Michigan and Google to provide 360-degree imagery of more than 40 locations across Michigan using a mounted camera called the Google Trekker. Check out the short video overview below to get a better idea of the technology and how it’s used.

Additionally, some exciting news and information on the state of Michigan tourism was presented by David West, Vice President of Travel Michigan. While we could provide an exhaustive list of some of the fascinating points made, some of the key takeaways mentioned:

  • #PureMichigan is the number one travel hashtag used in the entire world
  •  Pure Michigan ad campaign generated $6.87 for every $1 invested in 2014
  • A record 113.4 million visitors came to Michigan in 2014, spending a record $22.3 billion

Dave Serino TweetsTwoSix Digital was also represented by founder and strategist, Dave Serino. Dave gave a presentation called “How to Create Content that Converts & How to Build an Audience That Engages.” The presentation touched on a number of ideas and worked to inform people of some of the free tools at their disposal to help reach the right audience and get them to advocate for your brand.

In all, the event was a huge success in the eyes of attendees, which was made evident by the social media stats from the three day event which included more than 680 tweets and more than 6 million impressions. You can check out those stats and see what people were saying in the Pure Michigan Tourism Conference Twitter Report. We’ve also created a Twitter list with everyone from the conference who used the conference hashtag, #PMGCT2015. We will see everyone next year in Lansing!