Travel Media attracts highly profitable revenue stream

Sonder calculates travel media leverage is worth an average of $38 million per business, per annum in commercial potential.
Content produced in partnership with Sonder.

According to a recent report by owned media experts Sonder, the travel sector currently represents 11% of the $4.3 billion owned media market and Australian travel organisations are sitting on $454 million of those untapped media dollars. Sonder calculates travel media leverage is worth an average of $38 million per business, per annum in commercial potential.

Owned media assets refer to any consumer touchpoint a company possesses which attract an audience, for example your website, app, social media, digital screens and email loyalty programs.

The Travel Media sector has been leveraging owned media for decades, taking advantage of captive audiences, hard-to-reach audience segments and a myriad of different physical and digital media formats. Whether it is inflight, in lounges or in hotel rooms, travel media is a highly lucrative alternative revenue stream.

Major blue chip travel brands such as Qantas, American Express Travel & Leisure, Virgin Airlines, Heinemann, British Airways, Avios, Velocity, BIG4, NRMA and Crown Resorts have all unlocked value from their travel media either through:

• Direct revenue –selling media space to brand partners for cash when using the host’s media channels and accessing their audiences. For example, Virgin Australia Adspace, duty free ad sales and Crown Resorts Partnerships.

• Indirect revenue – ensuring the value of owned media support is included in loyalty program deals with partner brands. For example, Qantas Loyalty and Amex Offers.

Most travel businesses have a mix of direct and indirect revenue streams, regardless, an independent valuation of media is required.

Loyalty potential

Advanced offers loyalty programs deal with thousands of partners and use highly sophisticated algorithms to serve members tailored offers based on their shopping behaviour. For example, a member of an airline program who has previously purchased home electronics would receive relevant messages online, in social feeds and via email from a partner like Samsung.

Often the media value of the host business supporting the offer through their own channels isn’t being recognised. It doesn’t need to be charged directly for cash, it can be recognised in the partnership deal as value. It is significant too, typically a campaign to support a partner offer is four to five times the offer cost in media value.

Media valuations can be a game-changer for loyalty businesses. As Anthony Tidy, UK Marketing Director, Global Merchant and Network Services, at American Express explains:

“The Sonder media valuation has completely changed our go-to-market approach for American Express Offers. Marketing & media values are now the leading part of the conversation with our merchants. We now recognise the power of our own channels in helping merchants achieve their objectives.”

High value media

Do not underestimate the value of your owned channels to partners. For example, the humble email is the most valuable media asset of all owned media channels. More valuable than a digital screen at the front of a store, more valuable than a homepage banner and more valuable than a social media post. Well targeted, effective emails are often valued at over $100,000.

3-step guide

A simple three-step guide to ensuring travel brands can effectively monetise their media include:

1.Understand the size of the prize and communicate that internally within the business. Conduct an audit and valuation of your owned media network.

2. Identifying which brands you wish to partner with and decide whether you wish to charge them for using your media or whether you will represent the media value in a wider deal.

3. Ensure measurement systems are put in place to demonstrate efficacy back to partners, as ROI is the key to unlocking growth.

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