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“Facebook is no longer just a social media company. We are a content discovery platform and a mobile platform where 1.8 billion people come to discover and interact with the things that matter most to them, including brands.”
— Christine Warner, Travel Head of Industry at Facebook
Report OverviewFacebook, with its massive and engaged user base, gives travel companies the ability to both build brand awareness and target consumers at a granular level to drive bookings. Conversion should continue to improve with the new dynamic ads for travel retargeting consumers across devices. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp dominate the messaging app world with both having over one billion users. While some are excited about a messaging evolution for booking, we take a more pragmatic view with messaging being more about enhancing the customer experience. This improved experience can build brand loyalty and drive future bookings. The report discusses the best use cases across the various sub-sectors of the travel industry as well as how we see direct and indirect monetization playing out. Google leads the market for digital advertising in travel, but Facebook is making a strong push into the space. While we fully expect Facebook to grow its travel market share in a meaningful way, Google will remain the dominant force in travel digital ad spending. Travel companies would love to reduce their reliance on Google, but it is premature to think of Facebook as being able to match Google’s footprint. This is not meant to minimize the importance of Facebook to the travel industry and the financial impact of travel on Facebook. Both will become significant. Instead, we make the argument that Facebook’s gains do not have to be a meaningful headwind for Google. We envision a world where both Google and Facebook benefit from the continued move from traditional advertising formats to digital. Google will continue to be the best functional tool at driving clicks to sites while Facebook is more visual and inspirational, but lacks the clear purchase intent of a Google search. Turning to the travel industry, competition for bookings amongst online travel companies themselves and between them and the hotels remains intense. Digital advertising will remain a crucial tool to drive traffic and conversions. This is a headwind for the travel industry, where ad spending growth is trending above revenue growth, but a nice tailwind for both Google and Facebook. We believe that Facebook’s vast reach and impact on travel makes this report a valuable read for participants and investors across online travel, lodging, air travel, and tours and activities. At approximately 45,000 words, the report is equal parts financial/strategic analysis and round-table discussion with management at Facebook, Google, Kayak, Momondo, and Skyscanner, and industry experts in digital marketing, messaging and chatbots, and hospitality.
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