Search marketing insights to entice weekend travelers

This is a viewpoint by Troy Scoffield, analytics PM, travel and tourism at Bing Ads.

Looking to get away from it all but only have a two or three-day weekend? You’re not alone.

Increasingly, travelers are forgoing longer vacations in favor of more frequent weekend getaways to ease their travel bug. Phocuswright says multi-day trips and long vacations have declined slightly since 2014, and short getaways are gaining in popularity, increasing 17% year over year.

Regardless of trip length, travelers are becoming more cost conscious, spending less than they used to. With travelers’ focus on activities skyrocketing, they are more apt to spend their dollars on those trips versus splurging on a nicer room. And with the kids out of school for the summer, now is the perfect time for families to explore new locales and build lasting memories.

So how can a digital marketer engage with these weekend warriors? Start with search. Travelers are turning to search across every stage of the purchase journey. In fact, 73% of first travel searches are generic—searchers are looking for ideas on where to go and what to do. This means having a search engine marketing strategy and engaging with these customers from the get-go is more important than ever.

Below I’ve compiled some search marketing insights and a few tips to help your brand entice weekend travelers.

Focus on proximity

To find your audience, start with a map. When time is short, proximity is a major factor when selecting a destination. To engage these travelers, target a demographic that is within easy driving distance of your location. If you’re near an airport, expand targeting to travelers that are an easy flight away. Be sure to look at historical data to determine where your customers are coming from. And pay special attention to millennials. Research shows that millennial families are planning to travel 36% more frequently than they did last year.

  • Tip: Engage travelers early in the search process using non-brand terms. Promote vacation deals and appealing price points with flyer and price extensions. Build brand confidence by taking advantage of review extensions.

Rally around special events

In addition to proximity, concerts and sporting events are also a huge factor for travelers. According to our data, sporting events alone sparked substantial airfare booking increases. Minneapolis airfare bookings increased 27% in the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl as compared to two weeks after. San Antonio bookings during the Final Four playoffs increased 44%.

Concerts and major sporting events provide travel brands a brilliant opportunity to upsell packages, experiences, and activities. And many brands are already capitalizing on this concept. Expedia has launched event ticket sales, and hotels that offer packages enjoy longer booking windows and fewer cancellations. Keeping tabs on local and regional events offers an excellent opportunity to engage travelers and earn more business.

  • Tip: Plan your search strategy around the origins, destinations, and travel dates of major events, such as the NBA and NHL playoffs. Increase value by providing enticing offers and packages around those events.

Make it about experiences

According to our data, tourist attractions and destinations rank second in terms of search volume, accounting for 29% of travel searches, second only to accommodations. Attractions like zoos, aquariums, museums, parks, and historical sites have seen double-digit, year-over-year click growth. Travelers are planning their trips around activities and attractions—which means you should as well. Airbnb is already capitalizing on this through their Experiences section, which connects travelers to local tours, events, and other activities.

As always, consider your demographic. Vacation experiences for senior citizens, honeymooners, families, and adventurers have seen double-digit click growth. Building offers and special packages that appeal to these groups can work to your advantage.

  • Tip: Use enhanced sitelinks to showcase attractions. Create experience packages that appeal to these groups.

Timing is everything

Tours and activities are on the rise, and revenue is expected to increase from $129 billion in 2016 to $183 billion in 2020.[vii] And travelers are planning ahead. More than half of vacations included at least one visit to an attraction and 68% of travelers build attractions into their planning versus those making those decisions in destination. In spite of this, the majority are booking activities within one week of use.

  • Tip: Showcase attractions like zoos, aquariums, and parks using enhanced sitelinks. Use dynamic search ads to help travelers find just what they’re looking for.

For more information and insight on travel trends for digital and search marketers, visit the Bing Ads Travel Insights Hub.

This is a viewpoint by Troy Scoffield, analytics PM, travel and tourism at Bing Ads.

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

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