Space Agent, an independent company spun-out of MarketChorus to focus on the travel industry, has created a solution to a problem online travel agencies (OTAs) face every day. How do we reach customers before they enter a competing sales funnel?
Through proprietary machine learning software, Space Agent has created a way to not only reach these customers but also produces a way to increase engagement, thus generating bookings and a higher return on investments.
“Space Agent focuses on resolving the imbalance between OTAs and suppliers in the vacation rental, hotel and broader accommodation marketplace,” says Eric Mason, Space Agent CEO. “It uses machine learning and data science approach to cultivate audiences that have ‘signaled’ they have an interest in a specific topic. E.g.: activity, location, trip, event, personal interest, venue, personal preferences or a general topic.”
Space Agent does this by leveraging the vast data it collects through scouring the open web and through its integrations to social media channels including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, to name a few.
Space Agent’s 5-Step Process: The Breakdown
With a focus on user behavior and new content, Space Agent has created a quick five-step process that offers property managers, hotels, owners, hosts and OTAs the opportunity to find potential guests before they enter a sales funnel or engage in a specific marketing campaign.
- Monitor what people are sharing, liking, pinning and posting on social media sites, including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
- Collect relevant content that is published and shared.
- Collect the people who share the most relevant travel content across social media sites.
- Target those people (via ads or marketing messages) in their newsfeed before they make a purchase. This is not lookalikes or retargeting.
- Subscribers receive highly targeted engagement at lower costs, which reduce cost per click and cost per acquisition.
How Space Agent Finds Audiences
Space Agent tracks and monitors social media engagement along with unique content created on the web, including videos, articles, blog posts, etc. Once the content is found, the process monitors engagement and interaction to gather data about the user — from the moment the user initially engages to how they leverage it in the future.
Examples include: what types of content they read, what they share, what posts appeal to them, what topics generate buzz, information they comment on, etc. This allows Space Agent to identify consumers before they start shopping or before they get into a competing shopping funnel to search for an accommodation or an experience, ensuring suppliers have the ability to drive traffic directly to their site or to the channel of their choice.
This level of granular targeting has not been available to the accommodation marketplace before, targeting individuals on what have become some of the largest search engines like Facebook.
Ad Creation, Targeting
Once thousands of data points are gathered and specific audiences are curated based on the data, the process creates optimized ads and pushes those out on the curated audiences on the social media platforms. The process predicts that users may have an interest in booking a vacation, for example, and begins advertising to that group. As the ad runs, relevance, engagement and interaction is monitored, and the audience is adjusted based on these qualities.
“The application automatically creates and deploys an optimized ad by extracting the required ad elements through its integrations to various OTAs, PMSs and aggregation engines, delivering images, descriptive content, rates and availability,” Mason says. “Additionally, through its integrations, Space Agent can track down to the conversion/booking, using various tracking methods including Google analytics, Facebook or Twitter among others, ensuring the subscriber/advertiser understands the value the platform delivers.”
Space Agent has garnered success through proven results and word-of-mouth, using very little marketing spend. Users of online vacation rental listing giants have used Space Agent to drive direct traffic to their websites, listings that have increased engagement and transactions on social media platforms.
In addition, participating companies can stay ahead of trends and plan accordingly, as Space Agents software can predict trends as those trends are forming and notify members what’s coming up in the travel industry. The ability to predict social media trends and data preferences allows content and social media managers to create custom content for use on sites in parallel with ads running to continuously engage and reach potential customers.
“Space Agent has existed for over a year delivering these capabilities to individual subscribers of HomeAway, Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, subscribers from more than 40 countries,” Mason says. “HomeAway reached out almost immediately upon launching and asked the company to develop an API to their .com platform tapping into all of the .coms associated with the HomeAway family of sites to deliver this capability to their subscribers. This same capability is now being delivered to property managers, hotels and to other relevant OTAs in the vacation rental category and the broader accommodation marketplace worldwide for their subscribers.
Learn more about Space Agent and how the process helps vacation property managers.