4 essential search marketing strategies to capture spring travel demand

This is a viewpoint from Christi Olson who heads up evangelism for Bing at Microsoft.

If you’re a travel marketer, you’ve had a few weeks to recover from the holiday insanity, and you know that the next big peak in travel is hot on your heels: spring travel demand, driven by Spring Break travel.

There’s good news from Deloitte, in reference to global travel: “A sleeping giant has truly awakened – the impact of which cannot be underestimated.”

On the Bing Network, we’re seeing 11% more searches and 13% more conversions for travel queries already this year, compared to last year.

These are big numbers, friends. Inspire spring breakers with the white sand beaches of the Riviera Maya, experiencing Game of Thrones and going beyond the wall in Iceland, or exploring the newly discovered Mayan ruins of Belize.

Spring Break is the first opportunity of 2018 for the sleeping giant of global travel to stretch out and take a good look around.

Four SEM strategies to win spring travel

Do you hope to capture the spring travel demand? Yes! Without a lot of fuss? Of course. To help achieve that goal, here are four essential strategies to focus on.

#1: Get to know your audience

According to eMarketer, 42% of Millennials list “travel” as their top goal for 2018. Think about this massive audience mobilizing for travel and you’ve got some idea about how you want to target. If you reached just Millennials, would you hit your conversion goals?

While all age groups use a search engine to plan travel, Generation Z (these are the 18-24- year-old kids who actually still get to enjoy a Spring Break) use this method more than others. Think about reaching college kids with your SEM with copy that speaks to them, yo, not me – who is almost old enough to be their parent!

Another thing to consider from our data:

Women convert 2x more than male searchers, at 68% of total conversions.

Women are the ones who are booking travel. How might this impact your ad copy? Keep that in mind when crafting your copy and creative!

To best target travelers, don’t forget to use in-market audiences that have been segmented for travel. This allows you to reach travelers that the search engine has determined are more likely to make a travel-related purchase in the near future.

#2: Go all in on your timing

For 93% of colleges and universities in the US, Spring Break falls in the month of March. Getting your campaigns up and running by mid-February is good planning, but since we’re talking about college kids let’s also recognize the tendency for last-minute planning.

At Bing, we don’t see a drop in Spring Break travel searches until late in March! This means the campaigns you launch today will still be relevant.

And it isn’t all about the college students. Spring Break travel searches continue through April because family travel stretches out the season. Keep this in mind when planning to capture last-minute demand later in the spring season.

#3: Get out a map and mark your targets

Since we already know that Spring Break is a travel opportunity that’s specific to the school, why not look at where the biggest concentration of students are and target them. The states with the largest concentration of university students are California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Virginia, and the cluster of Illinois-Indiana- Ohio-Michigan.

But let’s not forget about K-12. Targeting parents (remember that bit about women being the ones who book travel?) in the states with the most K-12 students is a clever move. Those states are California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. Go get ‘em.

And finally – don’t forget about the parents with toddlers (like me) who need a quick get-away with some and don’t want to be left in the cold with dreary weather.

#4: Figure out what people are actually searching for

I’m talking about knowing your keywords. Consider expanding your keyword sets to include the most popular queries made by your target audience.

79% of Spring Break travel queries are driven by “accommodations” and “tourist attractions and destinations.”

Just 1 in 6 queries during the Spring Break 2017 peak was branded. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your brand terms in your campaigns – it means you should be including non-brand terms also. As the search intent shifts, your brand name will have a place of priority if it showed up earlier.

Let’s drop in and chill out

By putting a little thought into these four key strategies, you can sharpen your Spring Break travel SEM campaigns with little fuss. These are easy wins based on sound research. When you’ve got everything ship-shape, head out for your own break and send me a pic of you chilling out.

As for me, I’ll be sipping a drink in a coconut by the infant pool with my almost 2-year-old this spring break.

Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

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