The travel industry continues to evolve and grow, but one thing has remained constant – travelers are reliant on online search as they research and plan their trips. This reliance on search is not just consistent, travel search activity is growing. Whether it is from disloyal loyalty members or online travel aggregators (OTAs), my colleagues at Bing Ads recently outlined key travel trends in 2018 with research partner Phocuswright.
Below, I’ve outlined six insights from that study to help travel advertisers make the most of their search advertising.
1. Be the First to Monetize Trending Destinations
According to our data, 8 of the top 10 trending destinations searched by US travelers are international, including the likes of Bangladesh, Maldives, and Rwanda. Keep tabs on trending destinations and connect with searchers before your competitors do. One way to do this is to stay abreast of new airline routes and destination offerings.
Another way is to use tools like the Bing Ads keyword planner or Dynamic Search Ads to minimize setup and day-to-day management—all while identifying new queries and sources of revenue based on travel industry trends and marketplace competition.
2. Influence Travelers Searching for Accommodations
Take advantage of In-Market Audiences to access curated lists of users that are in-market for hotel and other accommodations. Our insights indicated a substantial performance boost when ads are shown to travel in-market audiences. Compared with the same ads without in-market audiences, click-through rates increased by up to 36% and conversion rates increased by 77%.
3. Give Members Reasons to be Loyal
Even if you have a loyalty program, you still need to ensure your members have a good reason to stay loyal, since these travelers comparison shop across multiple travel sites. The good news is that loyalty members are more likely to engage with your online search ads. Our research showed that 71% of travelers using general search are more likely to engage with an ad.
Entice members through highly personalized offers. You can do this by using Custom Audiences, which enables you to use your first-party audience data to create segments based on booking history, pages visited, and other categories, so you can serve up offers that will appeal to your unique customers. Make sure that you test re-engaging inactive members through free incentives or points to increase likelihood of conversion.
4. Tap Bing’s International Traveler Base
The Bing Network continues to gain in popularity, with a 10% year-over-year increase in search volume. In particular, we saw major growth in travel searches from across Europe and Canada—offering an excellent opportunity for advertisers to attract international travelers. Overall, compared to Google, Bing Network travelers are:
- 16% more likely to be a heavy international flier
- 30% more likely to have stayed over a month on a personal international trip
- 88% more likely to have spent $7,500-$9,900 in online travel in the past six months
5. Use Search Ads to Influence Expedia and Other OTA Purchases
Reservations via OTAs like Expedia and Booking.com surpassed direct bookings in 2016. But you can still influence purchase decisions made on these OTAs with search ads. How do we know? In a study designed to help three hotel companies understand the value of search, we found that searchers who were exposed to a hotel’s search ad were between 10% and 50% more likely to visit the same hotel brand’s property page on the OTA.
6. Help Travelers Book Activities
Travel is more than just where to stay and how to get there. Travelers want memorable experiences. Activities are the fastest growing travel segment and comprised 10% of travel market share in 2016. According to a survey of US travelers, 53% shopped for travel activities online during their last trip. With innovation from both resellers and suppliers, gross bookings for online tours and activities are expected to more than double from $12 billion in 2015 to $27 billion in 2020. Remarketing is a great opportunity to target travelers searching for things to do at their destination.
Well, there you have it – six insights from a study on search activity in the travel industry, and six action items to boost your travel search campaigns on Bing Ads. What more could you ask for on a brisk February day?!?! To dig deeper on the details of this study, I highly recommend downloading the full travel insights whitepaper. Happy reading – and happy optimizing!