The customer journey has always been a complicated beast, but none more so than the journey to booking a holiday. The early stages of the traveller’s journey are perhaps the most chaotic online, especially when it comes to their searches. “Cheapest flights”, “Should I go on holiday”, “What to do in Spain”, “holidays in Germany” – the variations in search terms alone are endless. Then consider that some consumers are spontaneous, while others are methodical with research often forming a much more integral part of their path to purchase (in the 45 days before booking, consumers visit an average of 38 travel sites).
So, how can travel brands use search to ensure that they’re reaching all different types of travellers in a way which resonates with them?
Personalisation: More than just a Buzzword
As mentioned earlier, the way that people phrase travel-related search terms varies wildly. We cannot recommend enough that you ensure your ads are personalised to the queries that are being searched. Creating audience groups based on behaviour, rather than demographic information, will be far more successful for this industry. This will mean segmenting your price-conscious buyer from your spontaneous searcher, your curious adventure-seeker from the unsure user who’s just dipping their toe in the water.
The personalisation efforts won’t stop there: each of these groups will require tailored content to make your brand relatable to these specific groups. Develop ad copy that suits their style – for example using up-to-date pricing information in your ads to your “price-conscious” demographic, or structuring your sitelinks to refer to the types of activity someone might be able to do while on holiday. Also consider the questions, thoughts and queries that might come up for each group and try to answer them within your copy. That kind of customer experience creates an impact.
This particular tip comes with a caveat: only create as many audience groups as you have the capacity to manage. While having lots of highly granular audience groups naturally increases the likelihood of reaching the right person with the right messaging at the right time, it will be less effective if you cannot maintain it.
Too Much Choice, Too Little Time
Travel brands would also be wise to take the not-uncommon phenomenon of choice paralysis into consideration. With the world literally at your fingertips, it isn’t surprising that many consumers get stuck when it comes to deciding the location of their next trip.
Interestingly enough, in the early stages where choice paralysis is most likely to be a factor, it is the holiday experience on offer, rather than its price point, that is most likely to cement a decision. Calling out the particular experience a traveller might expect will help drive your conversion rates. Will they be living like a local? Is this the trip of a lifetime? Should they expect a relaxing week by the pool or 3 days of non-stop adrenaline? Adding these into your more general prospecting campaigns will allow you to reel in more engaged users; helping to boost your conversions and fuel your retargeting efforts.
Where are the Searchers?
The importance of mobile, in general, cannot be overstated, but when it comes to travel plans there are several things to take into consideration. Trends have shown that while users are more than happy to conduct much of their (seemingly unending) research on mobile, they’re less comfortable converting on mobile.
Holidays tend to be big-ticket items, and most, if not all, shoppers prefer to finish their purchase on desktop. Whether they just trust desktop more for their bank details or prefer the easy access to multiple tabs before they make their final decision, most consumers will complete their booking on a desktop.
With this information in mind, there’s a couple of things you can do to improve your conversion rates and drive sales.
- First, you’ll want to bid up on research-related terms on mobile devices (like “best trips for couples”), and more certain, purchase-related searches on desktop (like “flights to Belfast International July”). This will help to reach searchers with the right message for their stage in the consumer journey.
- Secondly, ensure that there’s a seamless experience between mobile and desktop, allowing users to easily switch from their mobile research to their purchase on desktop and removing some of the friction in the path to purchase.
The Journey to Conversion
Customers have incredibly high expectations for their online experience, and this is no different when it comes to travel. We cannot stress enough the importance of understanding your customer, and the benefits this can bring.
By keeping these insights in mind, you’ll be able to develop a paid search strategy that makes you relatable to your audiences, and will drive more engaged users to your site. However, be mindful of your capabilities: don’t try and bite off more than you can chew – for fear of not being able to deliver on your goals.