Travolution Awards 2018

Two Travolution Awards in two years for Oban and Big Bus Tours

November 29, 2018 Events and Awards

Oban International and Big Bus Tours are thrilled to have won a Travolution Award for the second year running.

This year, Oban and Big Bus Tours took home the Digital Marketing Campaign of the Year Award for the continued success of our global paid media campaigns in over 150 markets. The win follows our 2017 Travolution Award for Best Use of Search Engine Marketing.

Sarah Jennings, Oban’s CEO, said: “To win two awards in two years with the same client is an extraordinary achievement. The result shows that the techniques developed by our paid media team, alongside technical knowledge and the insights provided by our LIME network are a powerful combination of tools for businesses looking to grow internationally. It’s excellent to see our team’s hard work appreciated in this way.”

Oban won Big Bus Tours’ paid media account at the beginning of 2016. Our paid media team immediately began optimising the company’s online advertising to deliver a 35% year on year growth in revenue.

Big Bus Tours operates open-top bus sightseeing tours in 21 cities across 13 countries and recruits visitors from over 150 countries, using languages ranging from English to Simplified Chinese.

Having made the most of the highest impact opportunities in 2016, the challenge for 2017 was threefold:

  1. Keep growing at a cost-effective price
  2. Entrench Big Bus Tours’ position as the category leader
  3. Continue to scale internationally

The challenge was compounded by demanding trading conditions in the travel sector, a more competitive advertising landscape, and more complex user journeys – making attribution and proof of ROI a serious challenge.

Our team identified three key areas for growth:

  1. Foreign language expansion – as the English language market was close to saturation
  2. Advanced automation within the PPC account – the need for faster and better optimisation was becoming complex, with over 40,000 keywords, across 21 cities, and five intent-driven
  3. Improved understanding of the customer journey – rapidly shifting usage of devices is becoming increasingly complex, yet the tracking and attribution technology hasn’t kept pace with customers. We felt this offered opportunities for innovation.

More languages for more cities

In 2017, we rolled out 24 foreign language frameworks in 12 cities throughout the year. We did this through Oban’s unique network of Local In-Market Experts (LIMEs) – 450 digital marketing experts in 80 countries around the world – who localised the ad copies and user journeys throughout the immensely complicated PPC campaign structure.

Advanced daily optimisation

In 2016 our optimisation cycles focused on top-level city performance. We have now developed a custom in-house optimisation engine which takes into consideration over 100+ variables every day to guarantee we can react, and act, accordingly.

Counterintuitive customer journeys

People who research far in advance often use very qualified keywords, and they are more likely to be searching from a desktop device. By contrast, people who are in the city and buy within the next day or two, are often searching for less qualified keywords – such as “things to do in London” and are more likely to be on a mobile. This is the opposite to our original assumption – that the terms become more qualified the nearer you get to purchase – but on reflection makes sense. To respond to this, we devised different ad copies to cater to different device behaviour.

Continued outstanding results

The outcome: a 26% uplift in revenue from paid search (2017 v 2016).

In 2016, only 8% of traffic came from non-English campaigns. In 2017, the proportion was 18%. This translated into a 255% increase in revenue coming from non-English paid media advertising, which offers better returns than English campaigns, thanks to a less competitive market.

Oban’s hard work and laser-like focus have shown how small gains across the board can accumulate to create a real and sustainable competitive advantage for Big Bus Tours in a crowded marketplace.

Andy Furlong, Executive Vice President of Marketing & E-commerce at Big Bus Tours, said: “Oban’s focus on efficiency, coupled with growing our brand presence in new cost-effective markets, was the combination needed to ensure we remained ahead of the competition.  Thanks, Oban, for another successful year!”

Big Bus Tours have now also made Oban International their international SEO agency to improve the company’s organic search visibility in markets around the world.

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