Celebrating 15 Years Serving Travel Marketers Around the Globe
For 15 years, Sojern has maintained an unwavering focus on travel.
Since our founding, Sojern has maintained an unwavering focus on travel from day one–and 15 years later, we’re as determined as ever. Being at the forefront of the travel marketing industry, this anniversary has the whole team excited about the future and continuing to provide innovative solutions for travel marketers around the world. Back in 2007, we had to start somewhere, and as technology evolved over time, so did we. Here’s how we did it.
What began as targeting travelers with advertisements on printed airline boarding passes evolved into a business that developed and progressed with the rise of big data, digital marketing, and programmatic advertising.
During a time of significant technological advancements, Sojern learned—and persevered—through every challenge, industry shift, and innovation. For example, the late 2000s smartphone revolution led to a seismic behavioral shift in internet browsing, creating unprecedented opportunities for travel companies to generate more direct relationships and drive online bookings.
The rise in smartphone use coupled with the subsequent social media boom led Sojern to create our multichannel framework for travel marketing—which now includes search engine marketing (SEM), metasearch, display advertising, connected television (CTV), social media advertising, and more—to engage travelers at every stage of their journey, wherever and whenever they are online.
During this time, we’ve been collecting, aggregating, and analyzing billions of travel intent signals daily (like hotel and airline booking data) from thousands of travel brands around the world. This rich data environment is called our Sojern Traveler Ecosystem. It is the foundation of our platform, and what powers Sojern client success and continued growth.
The latest example of our evolution is the Sojern Travel Marketing Platform. Responding to the changing technology landscape and the evolving needs of our customers, we built an intelligent marketing platform that delivers unrivaled traveler insight, multichannel scale, and automated optimization—all in one place.
With the Sojern Traveler Ecosystem at its core, our platform provides travel marketers with the tools to cost-effectively drive demand, convert customers and build loyalty in a digital-first world. With cutting-edge machine learning technologies built-in, the Sojern platform powers travel marketing campaigns for more than 10,000 hotel, destination, and attraction clients annually.
“Travel is a massive ecosystem with endless opportunities for digital marketing innovation,” said Mark Rabe, Sojern’s CEO. “Our business was born in travel and our focus is still exclusively travel. Instead of widening our focus, we’ve gone deeper because we fundamentally believe it helps us to better serve our clients. Putting it plainly: We know travelers better than anyone else, and that’s why our clients love working with us.”
After 15 years at the forefront of travel, we have witnessed fundamental shifts in digital marketing. Here are three key drivers that have led us to client success:
There is no such thing as the average traveler. Consumers are 76% more likely to buy from brands that personalize. Due to the complex path to purchase, marketers can’t base their marketing strategy on blind segmentation and demographic data. Instead, they must use travel intent and behavioral data to find travelers, build audiences and develop personalized campaigns to incentivize travelers to engage.
Consumers are always dreaming of travel and searching for their next trip—even during the low season. An always-on marketing strategy means that campaigns are always live. Travelers are always online, so travel marketers can’t afford to turn off their campaigns.
Marketers should build direct relationships with their customers to increase the engagement, efficiency, and effectiveness of travel marketing strategies. Developing a first-party data activation strategy across channels and devices to drive direct bookings is key to that success.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without our strong partnerships with travel businesses around the world. Take a look at what they have to say:
"Throughout the challenges of the past few years we've never stopped looking for ways to support our local hospitality industry. Our ongoing partnership with Sojern under their Co-Op Marketing Program has been invaluable, supporting hotels in Abu Dhabi to drive direct bookings while improving room profitability," said George Kalliamvakos, DCT Abu Dhabi. “As they embark on their next 15 years in digital marketing, I wish them all the best and to keep providing the tools and insights the industry needs to thrive.”
“Sojern has been a partner of ours through constant digital change - from new privacy guidelines to cookieless to destinations partnership - and have helped us navigate and innovate through all of it,” said David West, Executive Director, Herschend Entertainment, owner and operator of numerous attractions properties in the United States. “I appreciate that they push us and the rest of the industry to get the most out of our marketing efforts.”
“Our collaboration with Sojern remains strong. For the past two years their digital media expertise has provided Hyatt’s Americas Field Marketing team insightful data to help our advertising reach the right audiences at the right time and navigate the evolving travel landscape and consumer preferences,” said Meghann Bell, Vice President of Field Marketing, Americas, Hyatt.
"Working with the little Omaha startup 15 years ago allowed The Parking Spot to keep up with the rapid evolution of digital marketing,” explained Julie Silverman, Director of Digital Marketing, The Parking Spot. "Sojern has since been a collaborative partner to help us drive return on investment (ROI) and prepare for an ever-changing digital landscape. We look forward to integrating with their new platform to keep our digital marketing strategy moving forward in 2023 and beyond.”
Throughout the last 15 years, we have learned to adapt to the many challenges thrown at the travel industry and global economy. From the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic to ever-evolving changes in technology, Sojern has weathered many storms and we will continue to emerge stronger. Our unwavering focus on travel has only increased our resilience and reaffirmed our vision to become the #1 travel marketing platform.
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“Co-op marketing is all based on data. Forget about the crisis for a second: it’s so important to understand who, at any given time, your audience is. And how you [then] market to your audience. The concept of co-op marketing is based on aggregating all that data and understanding where your customers are, and where your future customers are. How do you effectively market to them to ensure that you get in front of that audience with that message? And I believe it’s really critical at this time.”
“The data that Sojern provides and their understanding of the target audience is one of the strongest points of the company. The insights they presented after the campaign are very valuable for our future projects.”
“Sojern has become one of our closest partners when it comes to performance. I don't think we have a single campaign where Sojern is not the key partner. If it's not broke, don't fix it.”
“I really appreciate how easy it is to use. The direct bookings just keep coming in and there’s not a lot of upkeep on my end, which is nice being a busy property with multiple departments.”
With today’s competitive market, it’s imperative for us to find tailored marketing solutions that both amplify the distinctive stories across our diverse portfolio and support hotelier efforts to drive direct bookings. Sojern’s customizable offering makes it easy for our collection of independent hotels to gain visibility and drive business in key digital acquisition channels.
“The Sojern team has been great at providing insights and helping us to make more data-driven decisions. They’re ahead of the game in connecting multiple data points and solving this puzzle for the tourism industry.”
Looking to learn more about Connected TV to meet your branding goals? Interested in metasearch and direct booking strategies to help your independent hotel? We’ve got detailed reports that address your every marketing need.