In brief

In brief

  • Travel industry CEOs prioritize growth. Travel CMOs are trying to deliver it, as they pursue launching new business models and value chains.
  • Conflicting priorities get in the way of growth for travel CMOs, as traditional responsibilities like marketing operations vie for their time.
  • Our research shows a few travel leaders are getting the balance right, biasing toward growth.
  • Here’s what travel CMOs told us about their day-to-day quest for growth, as well as what Leaders are doing right.

Leading travel CMOs are biasing toward growth activities

As travel CMOs chase the growth their CEOs expect, it can feel like one step forward and two steps back. But our research shows a few leading industry CMOs are getting the balance right, biasing toward growth. Despite traditional demands on their time like operational effectiveness and customer retention, these CMOs are emphasizing launching new business models and leveraging new technologies to enable growth.

Travel CMOs try to do it all

Leading travel CMOs are striking the right balance between traditional and growth activities, biasing toward growth, while their peers struggle to prioritize.

The future of travel is Living Business

In the Travel industry, 86 percent of CMOs say they have completed or are well into a transformation. But only 32 percent are confident they will be able to keep pace moving forward.

Leading CMOs have foregone large-scale, finite transformations in favor of constantly transformative change. They think of marketing as a muscle to be built and flexed regularly, with precision. They are building an agile organization—a Living Business—that can continuously pivot with increasing customer expectations, as well as shifts in traveler contexts.

And they’re using that same agility with competitors and new technologies. This is about building the kind of marketing organization that adapts with speed and scale. The kind that brings customer relevance and sustained growth into day-to-day operations.


Industry CMOs agree on their top two priorities to get to growth: #1—Better data and insights about what customers value, and #2—The talent set that supports their goals.

It’s not about the size of your spend

Leading CMOs across industries are not spending significantly more than their more traditional counterparts to improve customer experience and spark innovation. But they are ensuring holistic investments that adequately fund new growth initiatives.

Many industry CMOs told us that experimenting and piloting innovative new solutions is a top method for achieving their growth objectives, yet 58 percent of travel CMOs still say they are reapplying solutions that worked in the past.

Across the board, leaders and laggards said their top priorities for getting to growth were better data and insights about what customers value, and the talent set that can help them move into their digital, customer-centric future.

Leading CMOs are not spending significantly more than their more traditional counterparts to improve customer experience and spark innovation.

Getting there: Making the new your now

Travelers crave experiences tailored for them, that can shift in real-time. Travel CMOs that can build the organization, culture and technology foundation to provide those will win. It’s that simple.

But, as any travel CMO can tell you, the actual creation of all of this—a Living Business—is not simple. Our Leaders do a few things differently, which are helping them get there first:

They are Zen-like about constant change

Our Leaders accept constant change as their new normal—and they’re moving beyond acceptance to embrace it, hiring talent with an entrepreneurial mindset.

They don’t eat lunch alone

While most travel CMOs told us they need increased collaboration with peers, our Leaders are reaching out to make it happen.

They hire for tomorrow today

Creating new growth requires a talent set most travel companies don’t yet have in-house. Leaders identify skill gaps so they can hire and pull in the adaptive workforce—now.

Reinvention is a brave, bold task. Travel CMOs who embrace it, though, can pull away from the pack. Breaking from conventional wisdom, they are fueling a new data-driven relationship with their customers, becoming a Living Business. And in the process, they’re not only becoming exceedingly relevant to that base, they’re growing by leaps and bounds.

The good news? Everything they are doing is something any travel CMO can do. It just takes the right journey map and a ticket to ride.

Daniel Kowalewski

Managing Director – Travel Industry, North America

Margo Gorra-Stockman

Principal Director – Travel Industry Innovation

Miguel Flecha

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Travel, Europe


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