How do you quantify the value derived from exchanging unsold travel & tourism inventory for media exposure?
The concept of converting unsold inventory into marketing assets is equally relevant when applied to hosting travel writers (or any media specialist, for that matter).
Unsold bed-nights or packaged tour itinerary tickets, empty seats in restaurants, on tour coaches, and on airlines are very much like perishable products in the FMCG sector – if they're not sold by the due date, they’re gone forever.
Historical data, however, should provide an indication of average unsold inventory. In the accommodation sector, for example, global average occupancy rates for hotels can range anywhere between 60% to 80%. In South Africa, the occupancy rate of hotels and similar establishments in 2021 amounted to just 23%. (Statista, Nov 8, 2022).
In financial terms, this means that hospitality establishments are losing between 20% to 80% of their inventory. Inventory that could easily be converted to media exposure, accounted for as marketing expenses, and thereby attract potential new customers.
Simply compare the value of inventory (rates, seats, etc x PAX x number of nights / tickets) to the media's rate card or circulation / subscribers / followers.
This equation will provide, what I call an "eye-ball" rate (for brand awareness). However, what you really want from the media is click-throughs to your website or booking engine. Click-throughs are the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view the online story or newsletter.
Now, compare their click-rates to cost per click (CPC) rates for online advertising. These vary by social media channel. In 2021, the CPC rate cost for LinkedIn was $5.26 and $3.56 for Instagram. $3.21 for YouTube, $1.50 for Pinterest, $0.97 for FaceBook (Meta), and $0.38 for Twitter. (DeFazio, 2021). On Facebook you'd pay $12.07 per 1000 impressions.
From a travel writers perspective, quantifying reciprocal value is somewhat elusive. Most travel writers / bloggers are willing to accept hosted invitations because it provides an opportunity to add content to their travel blog. Or, for freelance writers, a story that can be pitched to publications for a fee (although few publishers are willing, or indeed able, to pay for content). Some freelancers may self-publish their content on social media channels or on media channels such as YouTube, Medium or LinkedIn.
Either way, their value can be hard to quantify as few have rate cards or even hourly rates. They rely instead on their volume of followers, subscribers, or readership / viewing stats, which can be hard to quantify.
Publishers of reputable media titles, of course, do have rate cards. Which makes comparing the value of inventory being exchanged for media exposure a lot easier to account for.
Another way that travel & tourism service providers can quantify hosting media is to barter vouchers in return for advertising or featured reviews.
Back in my years as the publisher of an international travel trade magazine, I'd often accept vouchers in lieu of monetry payment.
Reciprocal value was easily determined by dividing the tourism service providers rates by the full page media rate card. Invariably, accomodation vouchers would be all-inclusive for two PAX sharing, exclude peak periods, and have an expiry date. I'd then use the vouchers as staff incentives, client gifts, or sell them on discount deal websites to covert to cash.
👉 What's your view on quantifying media hosting? Add your comments below!