Breaking Travel News interview: Tobias Wessels, vice president, Europe, Adara

Breaking Travel News interview: Tobias Wessels, vice president, Europe, Adara Wessels speaks exclusively to Breaking Travel News as Adara expands into Europe

Adara has grown to become the global leader in helping digital advertisers efficiently use big data to reach highly-targeted traveller audiences, while helping top travel companies turn their data into new revenue streams. 

The USA-based company has partnerships with leading travel companies around the world which give their search, booking and loyalty data directly to Adara. 

Its proprietary technology aggregates and segments this massive amount of data by key customer characteristics and categories, opening up huge possibilities for digital advertisers to precisely target travellers at scale with the right message at the right time. 

More than 130 million unique traveller profiles are accessible on a monthly basis through its platform.

The data is real-time, so marketers can focus their advertising dollars on travellers who are searching for airline tickets, hotels or rental cars, or who just booked travel to specific destinations.

Advertisers are able to reach travellers via the web, mobile or social media while they’re actually “in market,” planning their trips. 

The huge scale and first-party nature of its data is Adara’s point of difference.

Precision-targeting strategies using this “pure” data enable advertisers to find travellers who are most likely to buy, resulting in very high returns on marketing dollars invested.

As the company opens its new regional headquarters in Dublin today, Breaking Travel News sits down with European vice president Tobias Wessels to discuss what the future holds for this most innovative of travel technology brands.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could just begin with an outline of why Adara has decided to open a regional headquarters here in European, expanding away from its base in the United States?

Tobias Wessels: Adara is growing much faster in Europe than we had previously expected. There are several drivers behind this, and it is great for the organisation.

We have a growing number of partners here in Europe; companies who are among the largest travel operators in the world. We will be revealing these in due course. These groups are giving us an increasing amount of data to work with.

We are very strong in the USA, a market leader, and Europe was just the next natural step for us. Here you have the population, the buying power and the advertising infrastructure in place.

We have created this new infrastructure, a new eco-system for people to tap into.

BTN: Adara has made an immediate impact, signing up one of the largest airlines on the continent as a partner?

TW: Yes, Ryanair, one of the largest passenger airlines in Europe.

All their bookings are online, so they generate a massive amount of data. We were in discussions with them for a long time, over a year. There are great synergies between the two companies. We allow our advertising partners to tap into this resource, making the Ryanair property available to advertisers.

On the other hand it allows Ryanair to market their website to a broader audience. This is the core of our product; we offer it to all our partners.

Ryanair collects data and shares it with us, as with all our partners. This is non-personal identifiable data, not names, nor addresses or credit cards.

We do not own the data, we licence it from Ryanair and other carriers. This is important to because it allows a much larger audience for Ryanair when looking for advertisers.

We help them to monetise their data. While many companies offer this, Adara is different in that we are the only one who is doing this in a secure fashion.

Data will never be compromised, and this is what is unique to us.

BTN: Do you feel larger companies have a better understanding of the value of the data they collect, or is it the case that smaller, nimbler companies are better able to use the information?

TW: We receive a great deal of interest from large and small companies; one is not necessarily more aware of the possibilities of their data than the other.

In Europe we have a larger number of legacy airlines, those which may not have an owner, a department for the ancillary revenue. As such there may be some education needed to allow them to understand the benefits of the product.

Many low-cost carriers and travel distributors are very aware of the product; they understand the value of their data. They understand the opportunity Adara presents.

It is very easy for these organisations to integrate with us; it is very easy to get started.

BTN: How do you expect the conditions to be different here in Europe when compared to the United States?

TW: The biggest difference with the United States is the fragmentation of the market. Different countries, different languages. So instead of having one large airline, or travel distributor, you have dozens of them. This presents a big challenge.

We need to take some time to get into these markets.

But it is also a big opportunity. If you are able to combine all the data from all the markets, we are able to gain scale once again, allowing us to attract the biggest advertisers.

BTN: How did you select Dublin for your regional headquarters?

TW: This will be our international headquarters, based in Dublin. It will also allow us to develop out activities in the Middle East & Africa.

There is very strong interest in our product in the Middle East; the larger airlines in the region, with great expansion plans. They are asking themselves how they can continue to grow the business and they are very keen on our product. We can become a cornerstone for their growth.

Dublin has a great mix of talent, while many partners of ours are already in the city. In a sense Dublin is like a European Silicon Valley; a small area with a large number of technology companies.

Aer Lingus has just opened a new route to San Francisco as well, linking the two. This makes it very easy to travel, with the airport also just 15 minutes from the office.

IDA Ireland has also done some tremendous work in helping us settle. It feels very natural for us to be there and we are extremely happy.

BTN: Big data is a term we hear more and more in the tourism sector now. Can you defined exactly what is meant by it, and how its use can assist companies in providing better services to their customers?

TW: Big data has never really been defined; the idiom was used before it was defined which has created a little confusion.

It refers to the scale, and quality, of the data available. The role in the travel industry, as we see it, is to enhance established marketing metrics, including retargeting, which means targeting people who have already visited a website.

You can also use this for cross-selling opportunities; which is a new thing for many companies, as well as for attracting new customers. There is also a large role for analytics.

The focus for companies when using big data is to maintain relationships with customers, in the loyalty space for example. That is the number one use for this data.

Let me give you an example: retargeting. Attracting everybody who has visited a website but not made a booking. This is a known application for this data. Now, if you see a customer has come to your hotel one a month, but then suddenly stops visiting. Big data allows you to target that person.

BTN: What steps have you taken to allay potential concerns over security when using data of this kind?

TW: The biggest challenge used to be ‘how do we monetise data without compromising it’, but we have overcome this. We can guarantee there will be no data leakage.

There have been cases in the past where there has been data theft. Companies should be very alert to the dangers here. It is probably more important than your next booking that you are able to stay in control of the data you own.

More Information

There is more information on the official Adara website.