Lastminute.com brings content creation in-house as it looks to bring back ‘human touch’

Lastminute.com says it is putting the human touch back in marketing as it moves its focus to content and acting like a publisher.

Lastminute.com is bringing its commercial creative and content production teams in-house as it looks to bring the ‘human touch’ back to marketing and ensure it does not get too caught up in data.

The ‘Travel People’ content strategy will see new content hubs created for the company’s travel sites across Europe. Content will be created in-house for brand partners, with the aim of bringing storytelling techniques it has learnt from its marketing to bear for partners. The move does not impact its brand marketing or its work with FCB Inferno.

The Travel People’s content strategy for Lastminute.com Group will see new content ‘hubs’ for the group’s OTA sites across Europe, with content produced in-house for its brand partners. Lastminute.com works with FCB Inferno in the UK on brand marketing rather than with its commercial team.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Lastminute.com’s chief commercial officer Alessandra Di Lorenzo says the company is looking to take an approach to content that is similar to a publisher, rather than a brand.

The most successful campaigns at Lastminute.com have been ones that mix technology with emotion.

“I think our approach is more creative [than competitors], it offers a storytelling approach and is bringing the human touch back into marketing by engaging with our audience,” she explains.

“The model we are looking to deliver is that of a modern publisher. We are looking at ways we can make our customer experience more engaging through the information we provide them.”

The move comes after Di Lorenzo began to question if, in the rush to programmatic, brands had forgotten that human insights are just as valuable. For example, she says, machines will never be able to predict what mood a consumer is in.

READ MORE: Taking programmatic in-house: What you need to know

“Modern marketers need to keep in mind that machines can only do so much. We have our own moods and emotions and the most successful campaigns at Lastminute.com have been ones that mix technology with emotion,” she explains.

That is not to say Lastminute.com does not see the value in data. It will be using its in-house programmatic tools to drive readers to the content it produces.

Behaving like a publisher

Di Lorenzo admits the focus on content will not be easy, with hiring and the make-up of its team particular areas that needs focus. “Organisationally it’s tough and hiring the right talent isn’t easy. We’re an ecommerce business that is trying to tell stories that make us unique as a brand. We also have to decide what makes us different in the travel space.”

The content push follows Lastminute.com’s acquistion by Bravofly Rumbo Group in 2015, which evolved the company’s management and strategy. This led Lastminute.com to acquire Wayn, a travel social network that allows everyday travellers to share tips and pictures of their visits.

Di Lorenzo hopes the combination of the content it creates, along with the real stories found on Wayn, will “delight customers and attract scale”, and that the brand will become a place people go to read and discover.

“What we do is create the content, create the environment it sits in, the social features, the useful tips and information on the location and then on top of that add programmatic technology to push it,” she says.

Video content will be a particular focus for the internal hubs. Freelancers will have access so they can produce customised video content.

The creative hub will also allow graphic designers to build banners for the display side of the business and to work alongside content producers to make sure the images suit the content, to push programmatic advertising in a more visual way and to make sure the banner “actually speaks to the audience”.

Di Lorenzo says the company has already produced “great results” by making its campaigns more creative. She says a campaign with the Malta Tourism Authority during Malta’s low season led to a 292.7% increase in ‘room night’ sales. She puts this down to more creative banners and personalised targeting to two key audience segments, families and couples.

READ MORE: Lastminute.com ad chief says Brexit will not impact level of Brits travelling through Europe

Targeting through microsites

While Lastminute.com will develop slightly different “personalities” in different countries through microsites, these will all tie in to the brand’s main strategy.

“Lastminute.com is a very young, very bubbly, passionate brand, with pink and magenta – you can’t get much more fun than that. The content will match this,” Di Lorenzo says.

Success will be measured through engagement and acquisition to pages where the content is hosted. Lastminute.com will also look at social metrics and the success of programmatic to determine the content’s success. But Di Lorenzo says it should not be all about click-through rates, something needs to happen after this to determine success, and ultimately it needs to drive people to book.

However, Di Lorenzo says the brand is already differentiating itself by looking at its extended relationship with customers and not just stopping at the booking stage.

“Most competitors are very transactional and are focusing on booking. We’re looking at other areas to connect brands with customers beyond the booking stage,” she explains.

These areas include meta search, browsing, audience re-marketing on holiday, back home and at the airport, as well as the booking itself.

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