Travel planning process on search Platforms such as Google and Bing are now where travelers turn to do everything from researching destinations to learning more about transportation, activities, accommodations, and actually booking.
Search engines enable firms to reach consumers in a much more targeted way, and at a much lower cost, than previous channels.
Travel brands often fail to take into account these four essential facts when developing their search strategies:
Travel Planning Process starts with searching.
A study conducted by Expedia found that 69% of travellers turn to a search engine when starting to think about a trip. This ranks above all other sources, including family, friends, online travel agencies (OTAs), and travel brand websites.
A separate study by Bing found that 73% of people planning family travel use search engines as part of the process and 30% rank search engines as their most important source of information.
it’s necessary to think both broad and deep when developing your search strategy. Ensure that every aspect of your customer engagement, from building brand awareness to completing transactions, has a sophisticated search component.
Search Behaviour Changes Through Travel Planning.
A key fact that marketers often overlook when it comes to search is that consumer behavior changes throughout the travel planning cycle. Specifically, the frequency and types of searches conducted vary significantly over time.
Travel planning involves various elements, inspiration, investigation, purchase, preparation, etc. and consumers have different needs at each stage.
If you’re looking to market effectively via search, it’s hugely beneficial to map out the planning behavior of your particular audience(s). By understanding when in the process they search intensely, and what they need at that those times, you’ll be able to more effectively target your content, as well as your search ads.
Understand how Travel Search Terms are used.
It’s helpful to realize that different keyword searches tend to accompany each of these stages.
For example, an analysis of family travel search behavior found that consumers use a wide array of keywords, including broad terms (“cheap family vacations”), more destination-relevant terms (“where is camp’s bay”), and highly specific terms (“uShaka Marine World tickets”).
Mastering the nuances of how consumers use different keywords at different times to research your products/services is a major part of an effective search strategy.
Travel Planning process on Multiple Devices.
Mobile has impacted every aspect of life, and travel search behavior is no different. Google found that 70% of travelers with smartphones have done travel research on their mobile devices, and 50% of visits to the Google Flights search engine come via smartphones.
While this clearly indicates the importance of mobile, it doesn’t mean smartphones have completely taken over. A separate Google study found that 94% of leisure travellers still switch between mobile and desktop devices when planning/booking trips.
For travel marketers, this behavior matters because it’s not safe to assume that consumers are using either only mobile devices or only desktop devices to access offerings via search.
Organic and Paid Travel Search Results
Reach consumers on search organically for some things (such as broad travel terms) and via paid ads for others (such as deals or rates).
For example, you may think that if you’re the top organic search result for terms related to your brand name, that you don’t need to invest in paid search ads. However, an analysis of travel search behavior found bidding on search ads related to your own brand name—in addition to a strong organic presence—can boost clicks by 44%.
By taking a step back and understanding your audience’s path to purchase, keyword particularities, device preferences, and organic/paid behavior, you’ll be able to craft a sophisticated approach that will both drive engagement and boost revenue.