4 Ways “MoneyBall” Is Changing Travel Marketing

4 Ways “MoneyBall” Is Changing Travel Marketing

DMO MoneyBall

You may have heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. MoneyBall has a lot to teach us about making decisions based on data – not just experience or gut feel. Sure, those things are important to consider, but in today’s dynamic, web-dominated travel game – much like baseball – you only get what you put in. If we can be smarter about how we make travel marketing decisions, we can generate better results in terms of more visitors as well as more of the right visitors who are spending higher and growing the local economy.

Quotes from the MoneyBall movie help capture the essence of what we can learn about leveraging predictive data in travel.


“You’ve got to think differently.”

The game has changed and you have to change with it. The evolving role of the internet, mobile and OTAs/travel websites have changed the rules for marketers. The same marketing mix and tools just don’t work in our new normal. Marketers have to change with how consumers now shop for travel.

But, there’s so much data available today that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. The key is to understand what’s available and how different data sources provide different insights for taking action. Research and a little number crunching will make your marketing more focused and more effective.

That’s the perspective of nSight user, Matt Clements:

“You wouldn’t buy stocks without doing some research and analytical thought first.  Why buy media that way?  I can do more with 80% of my marketing budget when I invest 20% in data, than I could with 100% of my budget without any data to go on.”

Matthew Clement CAME, CTA
Marketing & Partnership Manager, Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau

“Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, it should be to buy wins.”

It seems simple, right? You don’t want to buy media – there is not inherent value there. You are buying visitors and guests! Don’t start with the media. Start with the consumers. Where are they, who are they and when are they traveling. Then build your media strategy around the most effective ways to get those consumers. It will vary based on the most effective media for the profile. Young demos respond well to social media and content marketing, while older demos are more likely to sign up for your email list. Start with your goal.


“I’m not paying you for the player you used to be, I’m paying for the player you are right now.”

It’s like a sucker punch – the old “what have you done for me lately” line. History does not always predict the future. The hot player (destination or demographic) last year is not the going to be the same this year. Things change. In baseball it’s an injured shoulder, while in travel it’s weather, the economy or the latest fad in consumer tastes. You need to have reliable, forward-looking data that shows what consumers are doing today and into the future to make the strongest marketing decisions.

The best ways to be on top of the “right now” traveler:

  • Look beyond last year’s visitor profile based on intercept studies (tomorrow’s visitor is not the same as last year’s – they shop differently, they make decisions differently, and they most likely don’t represent your full audience – they just represent the profile willing to complete your survey.)
  • Understand online consumer behavior, including how they shop and book, their motivations and preferences
  • Know where most travelers will come from – are you pulling predominately from your drive market or do you getting more international visitors
  • Compare who comes to your website (demo and geo-based) to who shops and books you on travel websites

“We’re going to change the game.”

Making data-driven decisions is not new. But moving beyond making decisions on historic data is. Incorporating real-time and forward-looking data into your marketing decisions is becoming the new normal. Still setting your media plan for the year with little to no room for changes during the year. Good luck with that. Your media mix and your budget should be fluid. That’s not saying everything you do should be reactive – just the opposite. Keep a baseline plan and be able to respond to capture forward-looking opportunity. Your media/marketing plans and execution need to be dynamic to optimize conversion. Your vendors, well, media companies have to change in how they sell/serve ads, and digital marketing companies have to become even more agile. Travel marketing needs to correspond to the changing behavior of the always-connected consumer.


Travel marketers are starting to think differently. Prepare to swing for the fence, buying visitors – not media, targeting future consumers, not last year’s. You’ll see these practical approaches will help put the theories of data-driven baseball into play.


Photo credit: Shutterstock