SAN FRANCISCO – SEPTEMBER 20, 2022 – Sojern, the leading digital marketing platform built for travel, celebrates 15 years this month. Founded in 2007, Sojern has maintained an unwavering focus on travel from day one. It began by targeting travelers with advertisements on printed airline boarding passes, and evolved to encompass the rise of big data, digital marketing and programmatic advertising across new channels, mobile devices and social media—all the while prioritizing agility and an exclusive focus on travel.
Sojern has 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 its 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.
In this same time period, Sojern has been collecting, aggregating and analyzing literally 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 the Sojern Traveler Ecosystem. It is the foundation of the company’s platform, and what powers Sojern client success and continued growth.
The latest example of Sojern’s evolution is the Sojern Travel Marketing Platform. Responding to the changing technology landscape and the evolving needs of its customers, Sojern 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, the 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 fifteen years at the forefront of travel, Sojern has witnessed fundamental shifts in digital marketing. Here are three key drivers that have led to Sojern client success:
- Travelers want personalization: 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.
- Marketing should be always-on. 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.
- Direct bookings are the best way to build brand trust, loyalty and profitability. Marketers should build direct relationships with their customers to increase the engagement, efficiency and effectiveness of travel marketing strategies. Developing a 1st party data activation strategy across channels and devices to drive direct bookings is key to that success.
"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, Department of Culture and Tourism 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 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 its 15 years, Sojern has learned to adapt to the many challenges thrown at the travel industry and global economy. From the 2008 financial crisis and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic to ever-evolving changes in technology, Sojern has weathered many storms and will continue to emerge stronger. The company’s unwavering focus on travel has only increased its resilience and reaffirmed its vision to become the #1 travel marketing platform.