Effective Digital Marketing for the Travel Industry

Estimated Reading Time 10 minutes

Reaching the connected traveller in 2020 – 5 major strategies within travel marketing

We are living in exciting times where digital marketing can have an immense impact on travel choices and buying decisions. There are now endless ways for marketers to reach their audiences. Digital channels such as search engines, PPC (Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising) & social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to name a few) all now play an important part in the connected traveller’s journey.

Long gone are the days when all you had to do was visit a local travel agent to book a holiday, and who can forget the days of Teletext?

Today, with the evolution of online activity and countless platforms on which to book a holiday, where does this leave traditional holiday booking and how does this digital world impact the travel market?

  • What does travel look like in 2020?
  • How and why do people book a holiday?
  • How does digital influence the travel market?

People love to travel and this won’t change, but with all the competition around, how does the travel marketer stay on top of their competitors and ensure they are heard above the noise to reach the connected traveller of 2020?

2020 predictions

Travel tours and experiences are set to be HUGE – the tours and experiences sector is growing faster than the total travel market according to Google. By the end of this year, it’s predicted to grow to $183 billion.

According to Google in the 12 weeks leading up to a trip, there are 3x more searches for experiences than hotel searches and 8x more experiences searches than air searches.

According to a Google Travel study, 74% of travellers plan their trip on the internet, while only 13% still use travel agencies.

  • New research shows how travellers are using mobile devices in 2020.
  • 95% of video marketers plan to increase or maintain video spend in 2020.
  • 69% of travellers said they used voice search whilst planning their trips.

As a travel marketer, you can’t ignore these statistics – if you want to reach the connected traveller this year and beyond, then a blend of digital marketing platforms should be the focus of your strategy.

1. Impact of Video Advertising in 2020:

There has been a rapid rise in consumers watching online videos to narrow down their travel decisions in 2019; in fact, 60% of travellers do this. I read an article from Travelport that predicted 80% of all internet traffic will come from video by 2020 – watch this space.

Currently, 78% of people watch online videos every week and 55% of these watch videos every day.

From a marketers point of view:

97% have said that video helped increase user understanding of products and services that they offer.

As consumers decide where they want to go, and what activities and experiences they want, they will convert to using video. I’ve often searched on YouTube ‘top ten activities in …’ or ‘what to do in …’ etc and I’m not alone in this. As video marketing is continuously growing, marketers need to ensure they are connecting with consumers and ensure they are heard above all the noise at each step of the decision-making process.

2. YouTube

As with all forms of advertising, YouTube as a digital platform can do the same;

  • Reach the right people through location targeting, age, gender and interests
  • Analyse & track performance through YouTube’s built-in analytics
  • Variety of video ad formats to choose from

4 benefits of advertising on YouTube:

  • You only pay for engaged viewers; you only pay when someone chooses to watch at least 30 seconds of the video or clicks on their true-view video ad.
  • Measurement Tool; using the measurement tool goes beyond just measuring impressions and looks to find out if consumers intend to buy your products after watching your ad.
  • Be part of the consumer decision-making journey. If travellers are turning to video, then you want to ensure your brand is appearing in front of them.
  • Let’s not forget about the competition. As travellers make their last-minute, impulse decisions to book a holiday, make sure you stand out from the crowd.

3. Paid Search (PPC)

There are more than 100 ways to target travellers through digital – let’s take paid search for example:

  • Call-only ads to target people specifically on their mobile phones
  • Call extensions to add a direct number to your search ad
  • App campaigns to easily promote your apps across Google’s largest properties including Search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network
  • Bid adjustments on mobile

Source: PPC Hero Travel Blog

These are just a few examples.

There is no denying that travellers are searching on their mobile phones, you need to have a planned strategy in place which targets the right users at the right time, with the right message.

4. The Rise of the Travel App

We know the impact of advertising on a mobile device, it’s important to acknowledge the rise of travel apps and how important they are. Take a look at the below statistics:

I recently conducted a search in the App Store for ‘travel’ and received an ad for Hostelworld prompting me to download their app to see hostels and hotels. Hostelworld is a great example of a company that puts their customers first – thinking about what their journey looks like and their different needs along the way. Think with Google recently wrote a success story about how the company found backpackers better places to stay using Dynamic Search.

If you want to drive app discovery then I would recommend advertising on Apple Search Ads as advertising on this platform gives you an opportunity to be seen at the top of the App Store search. Apple Search Ads said that 70% of app store visitors use search to find apps and currently there is a 50% average conversion rate for Apple Search Ads.

  • Set your goals
  • Create an advertising strategy
  • See the results

It’s important to remember that traveller’s holiday experiences begin long before they get on the plane – their journey begins the moment they start researching their holiday and this will take place across multiple digital channels and platforms.

So the question is, how will you be reaching travellers this year?

For advice on your marketing strategy, feel free to contact the team at Digital Clarity.

Mel Hosegood
Working within the commercial team of Digital Clarity, Mel works with forward-thinking organisations that have a clear idea of their business goals and are ambitious about scaling their business, digitally. With over 12 years of experience working in the digital industry in a variety of customer-facing roles, Mel is passionate about all areas of the marketing mix. Mel’s background hails from helping well-known brands grow their digital departments by creating strategic human capital programmes, through to consulting for medium to large enterprises across a number of industry verticals.