Want to get away? If so, you aren't alone. Spring is the time of year when many people start researching and booking their summer travel plans.
People are already searching for cheap travel deals, family vacation ideas, flights, hotels, or their favorite theme park or cruise line. And advertisers are ready:
Competition will be higher than ever this year, with consumers expected to spend $381 billion on leisure travel in 2017. So how can you win over consumers?
Here are 10 ideas to improve your travel marketing strategy using PPC this year.
1. Travel Search Stats: A 30,000-Foot View
According to Google research, 55 percent of leisure travelers go on just one or two trips a year. But they do a lot of research before booking those trips.
- 33 million people searched for airline tickets or reservations.
- 29 million people searched for hotel or motel reservations.
- 16 million people searched for vacation packages.
- 14 million people searched for car rentals.
- 10 million people searched for cruises.
And many of those people are buying:
- 24 million people bought airline tickets or reservations.
- 22 million people booked hotel or motel reservations.
- 11 million people rented a car.
- 6 million people bought a vacation package.
- 3 million people booked a cruise.
Travel Marketing Tip: Many travel consumers plan far ahead. Make sure you have offers that appeal to people who are ready to book long before they travel, as well as last-minute travelers.
2. Understand the Traveling Customer’s Journey
Wouldn't it be great if someone did a search, saw your paid search ad, clicked, and immediately converted? Unfortunately, today's customer journey is often far more complex.
In fact, as detailed by Think With Google, one person can have hundreds of interactions with brands while researching their travel. In one case, a woman named Amy did 34 searches, watched five videos, and visited 380 web pages while researching her trip to Disney World.
Google identified four key moments where you need to win over travelers:
- Dreaming: People who are thinking about traveling are doing searches to find ideas and inspiration – where to go and what to do.
- Organizing: People are deep in consideration mode, deciding which hotel or airline to book, based on details like location, cost, and timing.
- Booking: People have made their decision and make their reservations.
- Experiencing: People are searching for things to do and new places to visit near them on their trip.
Travel Marketing Tip: People are thinking about and researching trips all the time. Think about all the key moments that you can influence during the customer's journey that will ultimately lead to a conversion.
3. Define Your Target Audience
The demographics of the customers you want to reach should be your first consideration. Who are they?
For example, we know from the same Bing travel industry research that women conduct 68 percent of [family vacation ideas] searches and account for 69 percent of clicks. In fact, women account for 59 percent of all travel-related searches and 62 percent of clicks.
Bing also broke down the percentage of family travel searches by age group:
- Age 35 to 49: 41 percent
- Age 50 to 64: 31 percent
- Age 25 to 34: 16 percent
Based on this research, if your target market is family travel, we know that we want to primarily target women between the ages of 35 to 49. Your demographics will vary, obviously, depending on your goals and target audience.
Travel Marketing Tip: Write from the perspective of buyer personas to create emotional ads that speak to your target market to get more people to click and convert.
4. Give Them What They Want
Once you know who you're targeting, it's time to focus on what this audience wants.
For example, the biggest [vacation ideas] search trends, according to Bing's research, include all-inclusive resorts, family-friendly vacations, and cheap vacations.
Here are more trending searches in this space:
Our persona is continuing to take shape. We know she is between the ages of 35 to 49 and wants to find ideas for a cheap summer family vacation.
Travel Marketing Tip: Make sure your offer clearly tells people that you have what they want or need for their trip. That could mean tailoring your messaging for people who need affordable deals, want an all-inclusive resort, or are seeking outdoor activities.
5. Get Them Where They Want to Go
Summer is a great time to go on road trips and cruises, head to national and state parks or amusement and theme parks, or visit international destinations.
Via New Old Stock
Where are the 42 percent of Americans who plan to take a vacation this year planning to go? AAA identified a few key travel trends.
For one, people will be heading to beaches and other warm weather destinations. Popular destinations in the U.S., according to AAA:
- Orlando, Florida
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Anaheim, California
- Miami, Florida
- Las Vegas, Nevada
People will also be leaving the U.S. Here are the hottest international destinations this year, according to AAA:
- Rome, Italy
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- London, England
- Nassau, Bahamas
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Canada is another popular travel destination this year, along with Ireland and Iceland.
Travel Marketing Tip: Now we're past the ideas and inspiration stage. People know where they want to go, which means they have higher purchase intent. So get them there – push your hard offers and deals.
6. Pay Attention to How People Search for Travel
People are switching between mobile and desktop. In general, most mobile travel searchers are looking for ideas and to compare prices, while the majority of desktop travel searchers are ready (or nearly ready) to purchase or book a reservation.
Although people are primarily searching for travel on mobile, Google's research found that 75 percent of travelers ended up purchasing on a desktop or laptop. (A different Google study said 90 percent of bookings happen on desktop.) Nearly two-thirds of people double-check flight prices and half double-check hotel prices on a computer after shopping on a smartphone.
Travel Marketing Tip: Target your campaigns for the right audience on the right device. Your mobile ad copy should inspire travelers and generate demand, which you can later convert via your offers on desktop.
7. Reach Travelers at the Right Time
Now is the best time to start winning the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers. Specifically: spring time.
Search volume for [vacation ideas] peaks in April, according to Bing's travel research. But search demand varies depending on where people want to head for their travel:
- Cruises: Search demand peaks in January
- Beaches: People visit beaches year-round, but search demand is highest during the winter months through spring.
- Theme parks: Search demand is strongest in the winter and peaks in July.
- National and state parks: Search demand is highest in the spring, peaking in June.
Travel Marketing Tip: Make sure you have a strategy that keeps you visible during your most valuable season. If consumers don't know you or can't easily find you, they can't buy from you.
8. Embrace Facebook Ads
Search ads are great for harvesting existing demand. But you can also create new demand, using Facebook ads.
Here's how it works on Facebook, according to WordStream founder Larry Kim:
- Promote: Your brand promotes inspirational and memorable content designed with your target audience in mind.
- Bias: People see the Facebook ad, but don't necessarily take action right away. However, they do become biased.
- Win: When people have a need that your product/service can solve, people will either do a branded search for you, or they'll do a non-branded search – but because they've heard of you, they're more likely to click on your organic search result or PPC ad (and convert).
Travel Marketing Tip: Use Facebook ads now to drive interest and generate the brand affinity you'll need later to drive more searches, more clicks, and higher conversion rates.
9. Bid On Your Brand Terms
Bidding on your brand terms means more clicks for you and fewer clicks on your competitors. Even if you have great organic search visibility, there's a chance that people could click on and buy from your competitor if you aren't running PPC ads.
You can see up to a 44 percent lift in incremental paid and organic clicks when you bid on your own brand terms. Bing Ads goes into this in detail in its Brand Term Bidding study.
Brand terms are incredibly important for theme parks and cruise lines, as the Bing travel study pointed out. Check out the top branded searches for theme parks:
And for cruises:
Travel Marketing Tip: It was previously suggested in 5 Data-Driven Travel Marketing Tips here on the WordStream blog, and it's worth repeating: Bid aggressively on brand terms to make sure you maximize your visibility in the SERPs.
10. Close the Loop with Remarketing
If we know a customer's journey can include dozens of searches and visits to hundreds of web pages, then remarketing can be your most valuable weapon. Remarketing ensures that one interaction someone has with your brand isn't the only interaction.
As WordStream has shown in the past, remarketing is incredibly valuable.
People who know and like your brand will be more receptive to your future messaging, and they're also more likely to convert. Conversion rates are 2x-3x higher for repeat visitors than first-time visitors:
Travel Marketing Tip: The travel purchase cycle can be a long and winding road. Use remarketing to make sure consumers can always find their way back to you!
About the author
Danny Goodwin is an editor and writer. In addition to editing for Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal, he has been writing about SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, and the search industry for more than 10 years. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.