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OrbitalXChange: How did marketing experts adapt their strategy during the worldwide pandemic?

We’re kicking off our new OrbitalXchange series on our blog! We’ll be shedding light on hot marketing topics, discussing and exchanging with marketing experts from diverse horizons. Keep reading for juicy insights!

Fotos gente (40)As 2020 is coming to an end, leaving many of us with a broad range of mixed feelings, we wanted to start this series by reflecting on the impact that the now famous COVID-19 crisis had on marketing efforts and actions. We sat down with Beatriz Oficialdegui, Marketing Director at Destinia, to dig deeper into this subject.


Destinia is one of the leading online travel agencies in South Europe. Founded in 2001, the company now counts more than 2 millions of clients and more than 500.000 hotels and 600 airlines in its offer.

Over the past few years, they engaged into an internationalization process, which led them to extend their presence to 90 countries.

Driven by its innovative sense, the agency has been a pioneer in offering trips to space, in developing various new technologies and in accepting non conventional payment methods such as bitcoins and other virtual currencies.

In 2015, they created Group Destinia and started working within the B2B sector, offering their services to different companies. Since then, the group has grown exponentially, establishing itself as one of the key players in the sector.

Discussing marketing efforts during a pandemic with Beatriz Oficialdegui, Destinia’s Marketing Director

According to you, what challenges does the travel sector currently face?

Obviously, as it is the case for many other sectors, the main challenge we’re currently facing in the travel industry is directly linked to the mobility restrictions established in the face of the COVID-19 health crisis. Traveling while complying with safety measures is actually possible; the sector has adapted very well to avoid contaminations. But the lack of coordination from the authorities and the inaccuracies in informational communications to citizens, has generated mistrust towards traveling. And adding on top of that the logical restrictions implemented to avoid the spread of the virus, it’s no wonder that the majority of people are currently not traveling.

We hope that by next spring, the milder weather and the worldwide vaccination campaign will help rebuild people’s trust in traveling and relaunch activities in the sector. However, we don’t expect to go back to normal until 2022.

What big changes do you see coming in the close future regarding the travel industry?

The main challenge here is trust! From travelers but also from countries themselves to open their borders. I think it’ll take time to consider traveling abroad with the same ease as we did before March 2020. This will certainly impact regions that mostly live off international tourism rather than national visits.

What are your key marketing objectives and how does it translate into the digital landscape?

In my opinion, the main objective in marketing is to attract loyal customers at an affordable price, in order to be able to keep a positive impact on them in the long run.

Clients used to be more loyal to brands, but nowadays with digitalization, users are everytime less loyal and more expensive to get. That’s why we need to be really focused on ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend), CAC (Cost to Acquire a Customer) and LTV (Lifetime Value). With these 3 parameters under control, marketing remains cost-effective and you can attract worthwhile customers with a good LTV.

How have you adapted your digital marketing strategy during the Covid-19 crisis?

In our case we went against the tide, not only with the digital strategy but also with the global marketing strategy. Destinia decided to take risks. Not only did we not stop the investment in marketing despite the global crisis, but we also strengthened it with a significant TV campaign that lasted from the end of May to the end of August, along with a campaign in outdoor billboards across Spain and parallel actions on other digital channels.

This strategy diverging from the sector - which opted to cancel all marketing campaigns - led Destinia to rank as the company with the highest growth in traffic in Spain between March and September 2020, outpacing big actors like Tripadvisor.es and booking.com.

In parallel with this marketing strategy, we’ve worked internally to reprioritize projects based on immediate return and promote big data technological developments in order to increase sales and optimize bidding algorithms. These actions have made it possible to make acquisition channels profitable and even exceed the sales of the summer of 2019 in several weeks of 2020, despite the drop in conversion and international expansion.

What are the 3 main acquisition channels (Search, Display,...) in your sector?

In our sector, the main acquisition channels are Meta Search Engines, SEO and Brand. Search is a channel of great importance but highly competitive, which drives CPC everyday higher. Google Hotel Ads is gaining ground in that field, as it allows to reach users in a more advanced stage of the conversion funnel and presents a better ROI.

Could you give us an example of a successful digital marketing action you have implemented?

In our case, I think the work we’ve developed internally over the past few years regarding the integration with tourism search engines is a great success case, as we’ve managed to expand internationally at a very low cost, thanks to an internal digital marketing strategy based on big data and bidding optimization algorithms.

When this new channel entered the sector 10 years ago, we decided to carry all the development processes in-house, while other companies of the industry opted for externalization. Thanks to this strategy that we’ve been nurturing over time, we’ve been able to sell at an international level with a positive ROAS, even during this pandemic period.

How can you integrate a marketing growth strategy that every department in the company understands and agrees with?

Defining the objectives and ensuring transparency, coordinating from the beginning with all departments and involving the management of the company so that we are all aligned, are key elements.

If objectives from the executive level and the marketing department are clear, exposing them to the rest of the departments and including them is simple; people will understand them and feel part of the strategy, regardless of the department. That’s why clarity, definition and internal communication between departments is essential.

In your opinion, what are the PPC tools every marketer should use on a daily/weekly basis?

It depends on your marketing mix, but I think AdWords would be the main tool to manage SEM campaigns, or Google Hotel Ads in the case of Tourism. On the other hand, for me it’s essential to use an analytical tool that allows you to see the correct attribution of sales to avoid false "benefits" from PPC channels, be it Google Analytics or other similar payment tools.

One of the big failures of many companies is assuming that all marketing benefits come from PPC campaigns and not looking at the channels that have supported those sales, even if they haven't achieved the final sale. Good attribution analytics is essential to avoid "overspending" on PPC and to have a good distribution of the marketing mix in order to really see what works best in PPC.

What changes do you think will happen in B2C paid marketing by 2021?

I think big data will increasingly help companies improve their paid marketing strategy and optimize their campaigns. There already exist algorithms that help you bid for the most relevant search at every moment, but a lot of B2C companies don’t use them yet and there’s still a long way to go on that path. A big change will happen when all companies see the importance of automating these bidding systems… And I hope it’ll happen in 2021.

Could you give us 3 top tips to optimize paid marketing?

My main tips would be: 1. analyze the entire sales funnel with all the acquisition channels involved to see the real attribution of each one 2. Carry out a joint cross-channel strategy beyond paid marketing, together with brand, SEO or newsletter in order to optimize paid marketing costs and 3. Never assume unverified data; in many cases we think something is working and after an in-depth analysis we find large gaps that could have been avoided.

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