Why last click attribution doesn’t work in travel (and what does)

07 Feb, 2019

By Katarina Kljajic, Travel Specialist, Crimtan

Travel planning has become more complex, and less one-dimensional over the past few years.

And, with the constantly increasing number of channels and platforms where brands can engage with their audience, the discussion about attribution becomes more and more prominent.

Loyalty, social, email and display can work together in complex ways to drive incremental purchases.

Here’s why last click attribution doesn’t work

To help illustrate this, try to think about a possible journey to your last holiday. Your trip might have covered a similar set of touch points to the following example:

  • Waking up
  • Taxi to the airport
  • Checking in
  • Flight take off
  • Train to hotel

In this example, conversion means reaching your destination, and your holiday starting.

Which means, under the rules of last click attribution, your train to the hotel would take the full credit for conversion.

However, if you were to disregard the other elements of the journey, your holiday might never have happened.

Brand campaigns can’t convert without a full funnel

This logic also applies to booking journeys within travel.

For example, without a top of the funnel non-brand awareness campaign, many of the brand campaign conversions might never have occurred.

Analytics programs let you measure everything, from who and where your website visitors come from, to what content they are interested in. But these engagement and conversion metrics can help you understand what is really working when it comes to your website and marketing efforts.

Despite this huge flaw, last click attribution is rife in travel advertising. And while it’s a serious issue in most industries, it’s particularly damaging when the strategic goal of a campaign is to drive incremental sales.

Why should you abandon last click attribution?

If you follow last click attribution it always favours the bottom of the funnel, delivering yet more ads to people who are already deep in the buying cycle. So the majority of sales it attributes would have taken place anyway.

New travel customers inevitably went through a long, detailed consideration process involving a lot of research before buying. So it’s unlikely that the media channel, owner and tactic that first introduced the customer to the brand, and the offer they eventually bought, was also the last digital touch point involved before purchase.

Everyone would like to see a return on their marketing investment; it helps you justify why you did what you did.

The important factor is how you draw insights from the data that makes or breaks your marketing campaigns and future revenue.

Travel is a process, not a purchase

We need to start looking at the consumer journey in travel as a process, not simply as a purchase.

When consumers are considering a holiday, they first decide on a destination, then the specific location, city or town within that area. Then comes pricing and comparing the value adds. Finally the user experience places a large part in the eventual booking.

Judging your hotel and travel marketing campaigns at the finish line incorrectly assigns all the praise and investment to one single component. And gives you no real insight into the factors that genuinely impacted the customer’s decision to buy.

Which means you can’t replicate any success in future, nor understand any elements of your campaign that could be improved.

So, in time, your super-performing touchpoint will face a decline and stop producing revenue for you on its own. And you won’t know what to do.

Why lifecycle marketing DOES work

So what can you do? We recommend replacing the flawed last click attribution model with a lifecycle marketing strategy that brings new customers into your campaign, and delivers relevant and engaging creative and messaging at the right time in the right place to increase conversion.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can increase the success of your travel campaigns using data-driven advertising, powered by our proprietary technology and trading expertise, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to have a no commitment chat about how we can help you.