Equator at Bing Ads Travel Connect

In March, team PPC visited the Bing Ads Travel Connect conference in London for a host of great insights into the online travel market.

In March, the PPC team took up the chance to visit London for the Bing Ads Travel Connect conference. This was of particular interest to the team as many of our clients live within this sector.

The talk started with a few points on Bing itself and their 2015 travel trends. They touched on some interesting stats i.e. 40 million holidays were booked, 10 million business trips and 15 million people visiting family/friends (through Bing). They also pointed out that there has been 60% more journeys than there were 20 years ago. That’s a massive jump and a very positive stat for us working within this sector.

All of the talks were very interesting and full of useful information. Personally my favourite talk was from Simon Calder, the senior travel editor from The Independent. He also frequently appears on the BBC’s Travel Show, BBC Breakfast, ITV News and Sky News. Mr. Calder is clearly in high demand, which piqued my interest and was really looking forward to hear his views regarding the travel sector present & future. However, his talk was less about marketing and more about what type of travel trends he is seeing based on seasonality & world events and what he suspects will happen to the world of travel in the next couple of years.

One of the main things he touched on was that the terrorist activities are having a detrimental effect on international travel. He used Istanbul airport as an example, pointing how the airport was in line to be the “world hub”, above Heathrow airport. However, since the events in Turkey, there has been a massive decline in visitor numbers. Other than the fear of traveling to Turkey, he felt that tourist were moving away from these locations due to the much tighter security borders and the “danger signage” putting people off.

With people moving away from international travel, there has been a 13% uplift in domestic travel in 2015 vs. 2014. Out of this group of domestic travellers, Simon pointed out that families are in fact key, with the likes of Centre Parcs and Butlins seeing YoY growth. He also noted that there has been an increase in tourists looking for “experience” holidays rather than just resort/beach holidays.

Scotland is definitely reaping the benefits of the increase in domestic travel. 2015 saw a 3% rise in Scottish tourism which is expecting to grow throughout 2016. To help Scottish tourism along, Nicola Sturgeon halved the price of ferries to promote island hopping around Scotland. Additionally, Bing themselves have been promoting Scottish locations on their homepage, which was also called out at the conference.

Although Simon admitted he himself wasn’t a marketing guru, he did talk about OTAs and their effect on hotels and B&BS. He noticed hotels having to pay the likes of booking.com and expedia.co.uk over the odds to ensure they get what is essentially their customers to make a booking. He also noted how hotels are trying to take their customers with a reference to the recent Hilton commercial in order to entice users to book direct.

Back to the marketing side of things, some of the key takeaways from the talk was that 2016 is the year of the mobile. In Q4 2015 51% of click share was on mobile. While desktop is still leading in conversions, mobile is not far behind. So it is important to ensure both ads and websites are optimised for mobile.

Another important point, harking back to OTAs, is ensuring we’re rolling out remarketing strategies in order to get those direct bookings. We need to be capturing that audience in the research stage and ensuring we are there when they are ready to convert, ensuring that they are booking direct.

Some of our PPC clients are currently utilising the RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) feature, which allows us to target users who have visited the site, by guaranteeing top position for our ad in SERPs when they search again and are ready to convert. We have seen positive results using RLSAs, including high ROIs (as high as £10 for every £1 spent) and high CTRs (20% for some clients).

The entire event was great, and we’re all very much looking forward to Travel Connect 2016!

By Jess Bazinet, Search Executive.