Founding Employees Speak to 15 Years of Innovation at Sojern

Congratulations to our founding employees on 15 years with Sojern!

October 5, 2022

After 15 years of supporting travel marketers around the world, we’ve learned that the industry is filled with opportunities for innovation. We’ve cultivated a team of Sojernistas dedicated to excellence, and those with us from the beginning continue to help us evolve and grow. Congratulations to these Sojernistas on 15 years with Sojern:

  • Ed Birmingham, Director, Technical Operations
  • Brent Brummer, Vice President, Business Strategy and Operations
  • Kate Burton, Director, Product Marketing
  • Gretchen Chace, Senior Director, Client Success

Playing a significant role in Sojern’s growth and innovation over time, let’s take a look at their experiences.

From Boarding Passes to Digital Data Partner

The intelligent marketing platform we’ve built today started out as an idea to work with airlines to advertise on the printed boarding passes of travelers. As this idea was bounced around, the team knew creating this company would be a significant undertaking. They needed to secure funding, develop the proper processes to run smoothly, secure airline partnerships and contracts, build the right technology, and populate content. 

“We were presented with the company's vision, opportunities, and potential, and were all on board from day one,” said Kate Burton. “While none of us were experts in online advertising or the airline industry for that matter, we believed in the vision and were willing to do whatever it took to succeed.”

With everyone on board to take on the challenge of creating Sojern, the opportunities within the travel space became apparent. This was the beginning of our focus on the travel marketing industry–working with hotels, attractions, destinations, airlines, and other tourism entities. 

Taking on the Digital World Under New Leadership

In 2007, smartphones and social media weren’t what they are today, and as the digital space grew, Sojern made the shift into digital marketing and advertising under the guidance of our CEO, Mark Rabe.

“My favorite innovations are the iPhone and Mark Rabe. Seriously,” said Ed Birmingham. “It was a difficult time moving beyond a printed boarding pass company. Our founder realized someone else would have to get us there and along came Mark–who got us there.”

With programmatic advertising and new advertising technology, Rabe and the Sojern team worked to leverage airline partnerships and travel relationships to continue future-proofing our products.

“We knew we needed to scale beyond the boundaries of the boarding passes, and at the time, new ad technology like real-time bidding and programmatic advertising were things people were just starting to wrap their heads around,” said Burton. “We built the tools and processes to test and learn, and pilot new solutions, and even though some of those innovations are no longer in play, they were equally important in getting us to where we are today.”

Automation Within the Sojern Travel Marketing Platform

Our latest example of evolution and innovation is the Sojern Travel Marketing Platform. As we developed our multichannel framework and created a data-rich environment, the Sojern Traveler Ecosystem, it’s important to note that not everything used to be as automated as it is now. We work with hotels, attractions, and destinations around the world to manage their multichannel marketing campaigns, which all used to be run completely manually.

“The automation of running our campaigns has been very exciting,” said Gretchen Chace. “Going from each person uniquely setting up campaigns and optimizing them to machine-based learning and inputs and the automation of campaign setup has been a game changer.”

Our account managers and analysts used to adjust the parameters of campaigns every day to ensure campaigns were performing well and on pace. As we began to implement our automation, we continued to iterate and improve it over time–and we still do.

“Our automation is at the core of our business,” said Brent Brummer. “It runs our campaigns and has not only saved us thousands of man hours but it's also been the core reason why we've been able to consistently deliver top performance for our customers.”

15 Years of Growth at Sojern

As we celebrate 15 years in travel with our new brand identity and sharing the story of our platform, there has been a lot to learn. These four have seen it all, and they shared with us why they love Sojern:

Ed Birmingham, Director, Technical Operations

“Working at Sojern has given me the chance to meet so many people from different cultures around the globe,” said Birmingham. “I didn't even have a passport until about six years ago. I've been to Ireland, the UK, Turkey, Singapore, and New York City.  Five places I never thought I would ever visit, much less meet amazing people from all of them!”

Brent Brummer, Vice President, Business Strategy and Operations

“I'm still excited about the same things that have kept me engaged at Sojern for the last 15 years–new puzzles to sort and challenges that we can turn into opportunities,” said Brummer. “I'm extremely proud of the teams we've built and grown across the globe, and the personal and professional development that our people have experienced. I've also really enjoyed the opportunity to travel the world and build relationships with so many people.”

Kate Burton, Director, Product Marketing

“AdTech is complex and always evolving, and the challenges marketers in the travel and hospitality industry face are multifaceted and constantly changing,” said Burton. “Keeping up with new demands and challenges is invigorating– especially as it relates to customer experience and solving customer problems.”

Gretchen Chace, Senior Director, Client Success

“I’m very excited about the future of Sojern,” said Chace. “There is a huge opportunity out there with our specialization in hotels, attractions, and tourism and we've only started chipping away at it. I also love the people, of course! We have smart, hard-working, innovative people that are fun to work with.” 

A Token of Our Gratitude

These four Sojernistas have seen our company through everything–every innovation, adjustment, improvement, and more. As a token of our appreciation, they will all be taking a 1-month sabbatical and were given $10,000 to travel anywhere in the world with their families. As a business built for travel, we appreciate the dedication these four have shown over the last 15 years, and we’re excited for their continued guidance into the future.

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