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Smile of success: Bing Ads delivers high conversion rates for TUI

  Article , Travel , Customer story

Discover how the world’s largest tourism brand is widening its market

Travel, tourism, TUI

TUI Logo

TUI Logo

What makes it to the top of your bucket list? Whether it’s a global round trip, cruise or sports adventure holiday, the chances are that TUI has a package just for you.

As one of the world’s largest tourism companies, the TUI Group provides personalised holiday experiences to over 20 million customers across 180 countries.

“With a wide variety of products across multiple territories to support, we must be strict with where we focus our SEM spend,” explains Ilse de Rooij, SEM digital marketer, TUI (Benelux). “Managing and monitoring this volume of activity and communicating with our vast audience is a big challenge.”

It’s this diversity that de Rooij enjoys most about her dynamic role at TUI Benelux, alongside five other SEM marketers.

“I love working in such a young and vibrant company,” she says. “The energy and creativity across the SEM team helps us to adapt and respond quickly to changing market conditions, and ensure we’re engaging our audiences and driving growth across all our business units.”

With an established business, recently consolidated by a global rebrand, TUI has big ambitions for the year ahead. This includes a focus on its own hotels, cruise ships and an investment in several up-and-coming destinations, such as Cape Verde.

Prioritising destinations

Jeroen Maaijen Headshot

Jeroen Maaijen, SEM manager, TUI

With growth high on the agenda and an expanding range of tailored products to promote, TUI needed a platform that could help the company increase conversions and support its SEM strategy.

In the Netherlands, the Bing Network’s present market share has doubled to 123 million searches per month in two years.

For de Rooij, who works closely with product managers to make sure destinations and deals are given the best visibility, this was a big motivator for choosing Bing Ads.

“We have big growth targets within TUI Benelux,” explains Jeroen Maaijen, SEM manager, TUI. “Bing’s increasing market share means we are able to reach a new part of the market we weren’t able to before.”

With a commitment to delivering consistent messaging to customers, TUI also needed a platform that could help it understand its audience better.

“Advertising a variety of tailored destinations means knowing your customer base implicitly — and knowing where to find them,” explains Maaijen.

The high-quality audience that TUI can target through its paid search spend with Bing Ads is a major benefit for Maaijen and the team. “The conversion rates on the Bing Network are typically more than double what they are on any other search engine,” he says. “This not only helps us prove ROI on paid search, but it also strengthens our ability to capture the attention of our core audiences.”

TUI finds the audience on the Bing Network is typically older than the leading alternative. In fact, 63% of the Bing Ads audience in the Netherlands is aged between 35 and 64. This is an incredibly valuable audience for TUI as this audience group typically compare less prices and book when they see something they like. As such, the average booking value is much higher.

This is also because more package holidays and all-inclusive holidays are booked on the Bing Network than on other search engines. The duration of the holidays booked are also longer.

“The average cost per booking is 63% lower than the leading alternative, due to a lower cost per click and a much higher conversion rate,” Maaijen explains. “Bing Ads is therefore highly lucrative for us as a business.”

Building upon this success, TUI are more committed than ever to increasing these conversation rates further using ad extensions from Bing Ads.

Dynamic ads drive engagement

Ilse de Rooij Headshot

Ilse de Rooij, SEM digital marketer, TUI

With TUI’s broad product range, the need to prioritise and tailor locations for its customer base and then customise its ads based on that information is vital for TUI.

“There are a lot of variables we have to consider when creating our ads,” explains de Rooij. “With so many countries to target, it’s virtually impossible to create all of our campaigns manually and keep track of the offers we have at any one time.”

To overcome this, the TUI Benelux team decided to adopt a feed-based advertising approach. This saw TUI create templates for specific destinations and hotels using campaign management tool bGenius. This approach means that templates only need to be created once — the rest is automated. This not only enables TUI to make its ads more targeted, it also ensures campaigns are paused or pulled automatically if an offer or product is no longer available.

“Availability and offers on specific items can change quickly,” explains de Rooij. “Using an API tool called bGenius we are able to advertise far more dynamically. This means we are able to adjust the content of our ads to make sure we have the right offers online at any time.”

With a clearly defined product feed TUI can automatically create campaigns for all their destinations and hotels effortlessly. This means they never miss any traffic, or show ads for hotels and/or destinations currently not on offer.

Maaijen and his team have also manually added several extensions to their ads to increase their effectiveness.

“We make use of most of the extensions available through Bing Ads, but Image Extensions are a personal favourite of mine, because they are not available in other search engines. We are currently working with the Bing Ads team to deploy hotel and destination Image Extensions to specific properties and destinations to improve our customers search experience.”

December and January are typically the busiest months for holiday bookings, so TUI always increases its activity during these months to ensure it maximises its potential cut-through. Ad extensions play a vital role during these periods and the unique offering of Image Extensions helps increase the number of conversions. Sitelink Extensions are equally beneficial and enable TUI to gain as much visibility as possible for the most important hotels in its portfolio.

“We always try to use the most relevant extensions when working alongside the Bing Ads team,” says de Rooij. “Recently, we’ve found that as well as Image Extensions, Location Extensions are particularly useful in helping our customers locate their nearest TUI shop depending on where they are at the time.

Tailored ads, happy customers

TUI Data Table

TUI Data Table

Bing Ads delivers strong results for TUI. Across all the TUI Benelux accounts, TUI.nl is the most optimised site, generating a 63% lower cost per booking than other alternatives.

“Bing Ads provides huge value to our business,” says Maaijen.

Between October 2016 and February 2017, Bing Ads delivered an impression share between 91% and 99% in comparison to between 40% and 81% on the leading alternative. Bing Ads also has a 50% higher conversion rate than any other channel because of its high-quality traffic.

To ensure campaign success Maaijen and his team focus heavily on optimising the ad journey. Tailoring messages based on where potential customers are in the customer journey is just one of the techniques de Rooij recommends.

“By splitting up the RLSA lists to the customer journey, we can set up different bids for specific areas of activity,” adds de Rooij.

Whilst it is not yet possible for this to be done on all campaigns, de Rooij’s ideal situation is to show different messages at different stages of the customer journey. To maximise the performance of campaigns, de Rooij prefers A/B testing for ad copy within the dynamic projects by adding additional templates. Testing allows TUI to compare two web pages or ad text then choosing the one that provides higher conversions.

A/B testing is a simple strategy, but it’s where TUI gets to see what works and what needs re-evaluating. De Rooij believes regular testing is critical to running a successful campaign, but doesn’t think a lot of other brands pay close enough attention to the overall ad journey, even though it should be integral to what they do.

“Working in this way allows us to run tests for every destination we have,” explains de Rooij. “This ensures the test results we receive are more reliable since results tend to differ between different destinations. A person looking for holidays in Spain is likely to differ to someone looking at a holiday in Florida, for example.”

The Bing Ads team provides dedicated support to TUI. It is on hand to smooth out any problems and to assist de Rooij and her colleagues with the development of their campaign activity.

“We are really pleased with how the Bing Ads team is helping us, we have contact almost every week,” adds de Rooij. “Besides the quarterly meeting, we attend Bing events, gain optimisation insights and are able to test new features.”

Looking to the future, TUI is keen to build on its recent success at the Dutch Search Awards where it was one of three brands recognised in the travel category.

 “We’re looking forward to applying for several awards throughout 2017 to showcase what this partnership has created.”

The average cost per booking is 63% lower than the leading alternative, due to a lower cost per click and a much higher conversion rate. Bing Ads is therefore highly lucrative for us as a business.

Jeroen Maaijen, SEM manager TUI (Benelux)