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Sojern Uses Data to Target the Right Travelers

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Did you ever wonder why your boarding pass has ads on it? And did you ever get the sneaking suspicion that those ads were targeted? If so, you’re right. Sojern is the company that started doing it back in 2007. These days the company uses insights from more than 350 million unique traveler profiles — along with billions of travel purchase signals — to help marketers target the right travelers, at the right time, with the right messages.

This is accomplished by working with more than 3,000 customers, from global travel brands to independent hotels, and leveraging data to offer personalized travel ads. That data is then used to optimize future campaigns that function more creatively.

Camelia Gendreau, Sojern’s senior director of corporate communications, talked with RewardExpert about the company’s unique business model.

The first of its kind

“What travelers you want to reach, where, how, when and what you say to them — that is the art and the science that we are perfecting,” Gendreau said.

Sojern began in 2007 in the boarding pass advertising space. It was the first company in the United States to use patented technology to offer targeted ads on airline boarding passes. That process was developed working with major U.S. airlines.

The company’s current CEO Mark Rabe joined in 2011, understanding that big data was the key for travel brands to reach the right consumers.

Target the right audience with Sojern

“With a vision that display advertising could be more effective in driving bookings than search engine marketing, he pivoted the business into a data-based performance marketing platform for travel brands,” Gendreau said.

The company took what it had learned from the boarding pass business — in terms of using data to personalize advertising — and scaled it to the next level.

Sojern now works with thousands of clients, from major global travel brands to independent hotels, leveraging granular data and driving bookings with targeted advertising. With a market opportunity of $140 billion by 2020, Sojern has positioned itself to become a billion-dollar company.

Instant data maps the traveler’s journey

Sojern has the ability to see any traveler’s path.

Data partnerships with airlines and metasearch engines can predict travel intent signals with great accuracy, Gendreau said, which allows Sojern to help travelers — who at the end of the day care most about direct bookings.

The company recently released, in partnership with Google, a tool for hotel marketers to understand the evolving journey of a guest — from discovering and researching hotels, to figuring out why they booked a stay.

Maximize Performance with Sojern
Sojern helps marketers discover the evolving journey of a guest

“The report’s insights offer guidance to help hoteliers better time their marketing programs and maximize bookings by reaching consumers when they are most receptive to a message,” Gendreau said.

A quarterly Global Travel Insights Report is also published, showing big-picture trends and patterns.

The future of Sojern

The next big step is to take Sojern public.

“We recently closed five quarters of growing profitability, making us one of the few profitable companies in the ad tech space,” she said. “Sojern is in the fortunate situation of being financially self-sufficient.”

Along with opening three new offices in Dublin, Sydney and Mexico City, Sojern will continue to meet and exceed demand by providing excellent service, working on increasing profitability and expanding globally.

Gendreau understands with the challenges of travel today. She advises budget-conscious flyers to pack light, not check any luggage, stay flexible with travel dates, avoid Thursday and Friday departures, and always keep an open mind.

To learn more, visit the Sojern website.

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