media update’s Darren Gilbert caught up with the agency’s CEO, Ruan Oosthuizen, to talk about the challenges the agency faces and the digital marketing lessons they've learnt along the way.

What have been some of the major challenges Flume has faced in marketing travel in the digital space? 

The major challenges have varied quite a bit, from growing a reliable team to keeping up to date with evolving technology. 

Reliable team: Make sure your hiring is thorough. Because we are a serviced-based industry, your staff determines your product. We have spent some time to make sure we get the people we need, and we make sure we keep them.

Keeping up with technology: There is always something new out there. If you love what you do, then you would naturally like to learn more about this and share between like-minded people (hiring, again).

That said, though, there is also the drive to get better results and do better with what we have. Like a pro sports team, you are always trying to do better, you like/love what you do, but the aim is to do better every time. We try to drive this from our side and make sure that we allow for creativity in the process too.

What lessons has Flume learnt that it has been able to apply to its other accounts and clients?

There are so many, and each differ depending on the client and objectives. One client account may see creative driving incredible return on investment, while another is very thorough on media buying.

I think you will naturally gain deeper knowledge from different accounts. The important thing is to make sure you share the technical learnings to ensure you are always getting better. We ensure we have regular sessions with clients where we provide feedback and share our creativity, allowing our team to show what worked and what has not.

What we have learned from Club Med South Africa is how thorough Europe is on tracking and performance reviews. This has ensured we are at the top of our game when it comes to Club Med South Africa.

Are there any best practices when it comes to marketing travel in the digital space?

Managing the customer experience is vital, and measuring all of this even more so.

Also, while a certain technique will serve you well now, you constantly have to test others to ensure you are competing with, and can deliver results on par with, or more so than, the best brands globally – be it in travel or beyond.

What digital marketing trends have you noticed in the South African travel industry?

From a digital marketing trends perspective, like much of the rest of the digital media market, the new area of focus is all about granular targeting – using data to target your clientele even more specifically and, as a result, getting better results from your spend.

The ever-growing space of using Data Management Platforms (DMPs), has resulted in a lot of big data being used to refine targeting and I believe this will just grow. It’s no longer about whether you are doing programmatic advertising, it’s about how you are using other data layers to improve on your advertising and, as such, stretch your digital budget.

The usefulness of these DMPs to stretch over different digital channels is also key and allows for some amazing online engagement.

One trend is that we have seen a slight increase in overall ski/snowboarding interest online, which shows that South Africans are starting to entertain the idea of spending the December holidays in the snow. There is still massive interest in beach holidays, but snow and ski is slowly gaining interest. 

Another trend is that many South Africans tend to visit specific places within certain regions, like Thailand, if they plan to travel and explore Asia, and there has been a general increase towards other areas such as Indonesia.

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Club Med Southern Africa recently launched its new campaign. You can read more about it in our article, Club Med Southern Africa’s latest campaign unveils new brand positioning.