To me, travel means three things: finding great food, fascinating cultures, and desirable weather.
I’ll often use searches on Bing to find that elusive combination. I’m by no means alone – according to visual.ly, eight in 10 travelers use the web to plan a trip, and many of them also purchase tickets, hotel bookings, or other travel items online. In the United States, for instance, online travel sales were $139 billion in 2010, and are well on their way to reaching $182 billion by 2016.
The summer of 2014 is shaping up as a big year for travel, both globally and in your back yard. The FIFA World Cup in Brazil is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. On the Yahoo Bing Network, we saw strong growth in cruise bookings in the first quarter with 21.7 million consumers expected to attend cruises this year. In fact, compared to Google, our audience is more likely to have searched for information about cruises in the past six months,Lodging searches are also up, driven in part by online services such as Airbnb. Meanwhile, more efficient cars and stable gas prices are apt to increase car rentals and road trips during vacation.
Get ready for campaign planning
Now is the time for advertisers in travel-related industries to think hard about their online ad campaigns and how to take advantage of trends driving consumer travel spend. Travel sites see a spike in May and June as people start thinking seriously about their summer plans. Travel searches peak in July as people finalize plans. That’s also when most summer travel bookings are completed, so you’ll want to have your campaigns ready to go before the start of summer if you hope to catch that increase in travel searches.
You should also consider including mobile when designing your campaigns. Travel Weekly says that 30 percent of travelers booked reservations or other travel items on mobile devices in 2013 – a 25 percent increase over 2012. Our Yahoo Bing Network audience is 20 percent more likely than Google’s to look each week for travel content with a mobile device and with all the momentum we’re seeing in the mobile market, that increase likely will be even greater this year. Keep in mind that mobile consumers are further down the research and decision path of their travel booking journeys than PC consumers, so be sure to utilize Bing Ads’ mobile features to close the gap between consideration and purchase.
Here’s a quick summary of some of the features and tips that can help you:
- Sitelink Extensions, Location Extensions, and Call Extensions add details to search ads such as direct links to specific pages on your website as well as your company address and phone number, with clickable links to directions and to initiate a phone call. Interested in understanding how this could positively impact your campaigns? Based upon our internal data for the travel industry, Sitelink Extensions boosted click-through rates up to 23%, while Location Extensions provided up to 9%. Additionally, Call Extensions is providing strong increases in click-through rates for advertisers at 10%.
- We’ve made huge improvements in our matching technology over the past year so it may be a good time to expand your keyword lists with Broad Match. Our internal data shows that 30% of daily searches are new and this number increases during the holidays. Leveraging Broad Match allows you to capture new and existing volume that’s not possible through Exact Match only. In fact, compared to Exact and Phrase Match, Broad Match can provide our travel advertisers 48% more clicks and access to 34% untapped conversions.
- Because travel is a very competitive segment, consider increasing your bids to ensure that your ads are seen during the busiest planning times of May - June.
To learn more about trends in travel and how Bing Ads can help you reach travelers, be sure to take a look at our additional recommendations on SlideShare.
Now, I need to do some online travel research of my own!
 eMarketer, The U.S. Travel Industry 2013
 Hitwise, January 2014
 Travel Weekly Consumer Trends Report, July 29, 2013
 Microsoft internal data, 2013. Increases in click-through rates are based upon a study that includes advertisers from the travel category.
 Microsoft internal data, 2014. Increases in click-through rates are based upon a study that includes all industry categories.
 Microsoft internal data, 2013