Travelzoo’s Calder on embracing social media, selling travel in the recession and forging successful partnerships
Q: What is the strategy behind Travelzoo’s marketing program?
A: We have two strategies in terms of marketing. The first is to market to our travel partners. We are looking at how we can support our sales team who are promoting our brand to travel providers in the best way. On the consumer side, it is almost exclusively subscription-based. We are reaching out to potential subscribers using our travel deals as creative and encouraging them to sample the product and become a subscriber to the Top 20 e-mail.
Q: What is your e-mail strategy?
A: We send the Top 20 e-mail weekly to 17 million subscribers worldwide. It comes out every Wednesday and is made up of the 20 best travel deals as selected by our online producers.
Q: How do you create travel deals with your partners?
A: We work with a wide range of travel verticals — airlines, cruises, hotels and resorts. We have partners that are looking to move inventory to increase their revenues quickly. Our producers are in charge of finding, vetting and testing the deals that partners might want to offer. When a deal is brought to them from a travel partner, they research it to make sure it is unique. They compare it to competitors and the travel partner’s Web site. Based on their findings, they will guide the partner on how to structure the deal so that it is most effective.
Q: How do you compete with other travel sites such as Expedia and Orbitz?
A: We are different because we publish deals for a paid inclusion in our newsletter. Orbitz and Expedia are online travel agencies that are generally compensated with fees based on bookings.
Q: What are you doing with social media?
A: We are extremely active on Twitter. We Tweet 10 to 15 deals per day and we have more than 11,000 followers.
Q: How do you deal with selling travel during the recession?
A: Our travel partners are very much affected by the recession, so it is really up to us to figure out ways to help them reach their goals. A lot of the hotel operators are feeling a big hit because business travel is down significantly. We work with them to figure out ways to compensate for that. Overall we have seen a large demand for consumer travel and a large demand for value. People are still traveling on the consumer side if they can find value. Also, airlines realize now that it is to their advantage to pre-book flights. They will look at a flight and try to get it half filled a month or two before it is going to fly. Then they only have to make up a smaller margin at the end.