The travel industry is super-competitive and that presents a challenge for brands in this market. As holidaymakers we can relate to the feat of trying to decide where to visit next. What influences you to travel? Is it, for example, the local cuisine, a change in weather, a particular cultural activity to tick off your bucket list? Or, does it simply come down to the price?
With so much to consider, you can use your own experiences to inform the way you cater for your customers.
The forward-thinkers at Google have understood these concerns and created a tool to aid shoppers with their holiday buying woes. If evaluated carefully, its results can help establish how holidaymakers think, buy and research. Therefore, a valuable tool for SEO managers creating a plan of relevant content to propel their strategy ahead of the crowded travel sector. So, let's look into what this new tool can do.
Google Holiday Trends
There has been a recent update to Google Holiday Trends that, among other things, uses historic flight price data to determine when is the most popular and cheapest time to book particular routes. The tool is still within the early stages of rollout and currently only offers data for America, including flights from Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
If consumers start to use this tool, their buying patterns will become clear, which can make it easier to use the data collated to plan a strategy. This means that the Google Flights aspect of the update may become a vital tool for managers wanting to focus their travel marketing.
With a wealth of information available to consumers, it would be naive to underestimate the well-planned shopper. Brands should alter their strategic approach to reflect that they’re dealing with savvy travellers. By going off of a prediction that travellers will likely want to buy a flight at the cheapest price, you can correlate your targeted content accordingly.
The current data available is limited, but the prospects are considerable. From the Google Holiday Trends data available, a popular holiday destination for New Year celebrations is New York, where the iconic ball drop happens at midnight. However, interestingly you can also see that the cheapest time to book if you’re flying from Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco is around 100 days before your arrival time.
With such a costly purchase as a holiday, it’s very rare that a traveler will book without researching first. Especially if they’ve never been to that destination before. Creating New York content before the 100 days marker will target those savvy travelers going about their research. You could produce detailed guides on New York; its neighbourhoods, its attractions, the local food you need to try and the city's tantalising New Year events. Ultimately, you should inspire and convince travelers into choosing this iconic city for the festivities.
Although it is important to keep the momentum up on the approach to December, to engage in social trends and improve visibility, you may find that producing convincing focused content in advance will aid revenue growth. This is because consumers are knowledgeable and are not waiting around to book at full price during the winter months.
The type of content
Creating focused content more than three months in advance may not come naturally to your brand at the moment, but if you think about when you start your personal holiday research, you’ll more than likely not book and fly within the same month.
In fact, the peak period for the travel industry - for the sale of summer breaks - is in January through to March. This is why you'll see tempting destination ads from the big travel players on your TV screens right after Christmas.
If you want to capture those keen-eyed consumers, your travel content strategy needs to consist of varied content. From our recent Travel Sector Report, which gives a detailed look into the industry's analytics, we have found that travel content needs to be done differently.
To summarise some findings, in 2017 there was a significant rise in shares for listicle content, for example, the ‘top 10 commercial keywords’ content the industry is littered with. However, this rate saw a dramatic drop in results in 2018. We can speculate that with an overpopulated travel sector, travellers are not settling for mundane clickbait content - they want more, they want excitement.
From the Travel Sector Report, we can also compare the number of shares for article content, which has stayed healthy across the board, again with a dramatic rise in 2017. However, during a drop in 2018, the trends did perform better than the listicle results. Although a listicle is a vital tool for social sharing, articles could hold a greater value. A way to get the best out of your travel content strategy is to include both.
As the travel industry covers a vast market where, literally, the world is your oyster, there’s room to be flexible and daring with content to entice readers in. Destination videos are a trusted storytelling tool, photos are easily shared, while infographics are eye-catching and engaging. It’s a good idea to include a variety of styles on your brand's blog and on social to ensure your strategy gets noticed across all platforms and devices.
The key is to embrace the infographics, the videos, the articles that inspire and engage potential shoppers. To convert, this type of content should be done way in advance to target the vast amount of shoppers aiming to book at the cheapest time - and tools such as Google Flights can show when this is. Listicles can then be used to support these articles and improve visibility during the approach to peak booking periods.
With such a large product market to cover and an overpopulated industry full of competitors trying to do the same thing, it’s important your strategy is varied, engaging and resilient to change within the market.
For a detailed look into the travel industry, download our in-depth Travel Sector Report for free.
Carris Boast is a content editor at Zazzle Media