In 2010 people researched their travel options more frequently, for longer periods of time, and on various online channels. This is good news for Travel marketers because you now have more opportunities to reach customers -- and many of these channels can help you more effectively promote your businesses. With marketing tools like YouTube and display ads, Travel marketers can actually show images of their destinations. For example, Hawaii’s official travel site showcases amazing beaches and palm trees on their YouTube channel. Don’t these videos make you want to take a trip to Hawaii?
We saw travel bookings pick up in 2010 and we’re expecting this trend to continue into 2011. This is the year of reaching your customers at every phase of the research process -- and compelling them with visual imagery. We’ve included our recommendations for doing so below:
Seasonality: Spring break travelers don’t start researching their options in March. Our research shows that the average traveler spends almost two months researching travel options before booking. As such, we suggest using Insights for Search to see when certain destinations are on the rise -- you can plan your search ad campaigns based on this seasonality. For example, searches for ‘hotel cancun’ actually peak in January.
Search: Our research shows that 78% of travel transactions involve research on a search engine.* In fact, the average traveler searches eight times prior to booking. In addition to timing your search ads campaigns with proper search seasonality, we recommend taking advantage of new search formats. For example, if you are advertising a destination, you can create a free listing on Google Places and include detailed information and pictures.
Content pages: Rather than consulting travel agents, consumers are turning to online reviews, videos, and blogs. This means consumers are more engaged and involved in the research process -- it also means you have more opportunities to reach them as they research their options. The average hotel booker, for example, conducts 20 research sessions on multiple sites prior to transacting.* What’s more, ad inventory on these sites is generally less competitive than search: The median Travel advertiser’s cost per acquisition on the Google Display Network is 2% less than that on search.** You can even measure the impact of your display ads using Campaign Insights.
YouTube: 81% of all travelers who watch online videos do so on YouTube. And the number of travel-related online videos has increased dramatically since 2009. Video is a compelling way to showcase travel destinations -- If you are marketing a destination site or a hotel, we recommend shooting video footage (it doesn’t have to be high-budget or flashy) and uploading this content to a YouTube Brand Channel and promoting this channel on your website. From there, you can explore advertising options to drive additional traffic to your channel.
Mobile: Personal travelers more than doubled their usage of mobile devices for travel purposes in the past year.** Research also shows that among travel consumers, purchase intent is five times higher on mobile ads than on desktop ads.*** New mobile ad technologies present a fantastic opportunity to reach these customers when they’re ready to actually take the leap of booking their trip. In particular -- and for Travel advertisers who do not have mobile websites -- we recommend enabling the Click to Call option, which allows customers to call you directly from their mobile phones.
The possibilities are endless -- and if you reach a customer at various phases throughout the research process with compelling messages and images, chances are he or she will be more likely to book with you. Have fun this year!
*Data from a ComScore Behavioral study.
** Data from an Internal Google study.
*** Data from an InsightExpress study.
Posted by: Sarah Travis, Team Manager, AdWords Travel Team