Brand Business – Emil Martinsek of GetYourGuide

Emil Martinsek, CMO

Emil Martinsek joined GetYourGuide in 2013 as the vice president of product management before taking over the chief marketing officer role, which oversees the company’s marketing and growth strategy.

For our November theme, PhocusWire talks to marketing chiefs on the challenges of their roles and the impact of technology and data on travel marketing.

How has the brand of GetYourGuide evolved under your tenure?

I’d call it an emergence rather than an evolution. When I got started, I’m not sure it’d even be fair to say we had a brand at all.

Sure, we had a logo, a tagline and a style guide -but these assets don’t comprise a brand. And that highlights a common mistake that many earlier-stage companies make: They invest a lot in thinking about how they want to look, but not in how they want to make people feel.

Our big brand revamp
in 2018 was the culmination of our in-depth journey to uncover the emotions that underpin our product, both positive and negative, and distilling what we found into an identity that resonates with travelers.

We emerged with far more in hand
than just a new logo (our Originals products, for example) and in a way, it wasn’t a revamp at all: It was the beginning of the first real conversations we’ve had with travelers and experience providers. Those conversations are still guiding our business

How do you balance offline and online marketing efforts?

GetYourGuide was born as a digitally native player in tourism. It’s the starting point from which we approach much of what we do as a business, and in marketing, it’s our wheelhouse.

said, for us, it isn’t about finding a “balance” in offline vs. online efforts; it’s about finding the right channel for the right touchpoint along the customer journey of dreaming, planning, booking and going on a trip. We don’t have a prescribed balance;
we choose the mix that works best to reach travelers in the right moments.

What roles do data and technology play in determining your marketing initiatives?

I can’t conceive of a situation in which data and technology do not play at least a supporting role in these determinations at GetYourGuide. It’s a cliche at this point,
so it bears underlining: We are a data-centric company. We don’t invest in what we can’t track and learn from. This is as true in developing our product as it is in making marketing decisions.

That said, we see ourselves as (very) data-informed,
not data-driven. For my teams, it’s the difference between engaging in a healthy, conviction-driven debate in a meeting that starts with data and avoiding the debate (or the meeting altogether) by leaning too heavily on the data. We prefer the former,
and it’s what we do every day.

What are the greatest challenges of your role?

The most difficult leadership challenge I’m facing now is the transition I’m helping my marketing organization make, as we move toward a more data-rich and data-driven world. 

This shift is a
cultural one as much as anything. To make it, I need to hire and empower more leaders who can set new standards, bring on more marketers with technical skills who can raise the bar within their teams and ensure everyone is committed to our shared journey
to give the whole world access to incredible experiences.

It’s a matter of creating that organizational forward momentum in our marketing capabilities to match our growth.

What advice would you give an experienced marketing expert from another sector who is considering a move into the travel industry?

In other prevailing e-commerce industries, like online gaming or consumer goods, marketers have the advantage of
very clear models of initial customer value. In general, you’ll know the average value of your customers after 30 days, 90 days and so on, and you can deploy your investments accordingly. In tourism, those kinds of models aren’t as reliable.

if you’re a senior marketer looking to get into this industry, be prepared to work extremely close with your counterparts in product management – and I mean “every day” close – to make sure your conversion rate is in good shape and your checkout
flow is fully optimized. You can move beyond transactions to loyalty, but if and only if you get that right first.

What is GetYourGuide’s greatest marketing threat right now and what is its greatest marketing opportunity?

They’re one and the same, and it’s called Google. 

Right now, GetYourGuide and Google share a great marketing opportunity. We collaborate
closely on initiatives like Reserve With Google and on new products and tests, and it’s going very well. We have an open and honest relationship that is pushing our industry forward and realizing the $180 billion-plus market opportunity we’ve all heard so much about.

we’ve seen this dynamic change in other verticals, like hotels and flights, and we’re aware of how quickly Google can move from close partnerships toward a less collaborative orientation. It’s my hope that we all remain focused on our shared opportunity
to open the world’s travel experiences for everyone.

What things from your previous experience has prepared you for the CMO role at GetYourGuide?

At my core, I’m a technologist and a product manager. It’s what I’ve been trained in, and it’s where I’ve spent most of my career building expertise. And I’ve
taken away two big benefits from that experience: scalability and understanding of the customer.

As a technologist, I think about how to build scalable systems: the science of leveraging technology to do more tasks, more effectively and more
intelligently. As a product manager, I think about the customer’s wants and needs, and how to set direction for cross-functional teams that build products to meet them.

Don’t get me wrong – I hire for deep expertise in individual marketing channels.
But to lead those channels toward a shared vision, I use my own technologist and product manager skills every day. They’re essential requirements to be a marketing leader within digital tourism.

What do you think is the next big thing in marketing in the travel experiences sector?

In travel experiences, we are truly at the beginning of the curve when it comes to the potential of personalization. And for GetYourGuide, as a two-sided marketplace,
that means facilitating a one-on-one conversation with our two counterparts: travelers and experience providers.

Up through today, we’ve developed proficiency in matching demand with supply and removing inefficiencies in individual transactions.
But what this is going to look like in the future is an ability to go back to travelers who have made previous purchases with a truly broadened, yet focused, understanding of their preferences, and deliver a wider variety of experience recommendations
that remain within their field of interest.

By using signals to deliver a broader set of activities to travelers, we’ll give a wider range of experience providers visibility, and ensure we stay relevant without being redundant.

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