Search Marketing Strategies for Travel Brands

by James O'Brien + Skift Team
Digital Marketing
Start-ups
Travel Tech

Skift Research Take

For the travel industry, online search is in the middle of significant transformations. From the mobile-first milieu to the evolving concepts of search and commerce, attribution and product-level innovation, avenues to reach travelers via search marketing are moving toward a future that brands can’t afford to bypass or ignore.

Executive summary

Online travel search is a space both evolving and in flux. Travel companies and organizations — from metasearch engines to online travel agents [OTAs], from suppliers to third-party agencies — are working with an ever-intensifying ecosystem of travelers’ wants and needs, coupled with industry-wide changes in technology and goals. Today’s travelers are mobile-first, multi-screen and social media savvy. To reach them, travel marketers will need to employ an increasing emphasis on visual storytelling and experiential attractors in search.

The relationships between brands, OTAs and metasearch are growing more complex as well. There’s a convergence of search and commerce, as some travel verticals seek to either limit their products’ availability in the third-party space or they potentially look to bring third-party infrastructure into their search/commerce playbook.

Add to this the concept of multi-channel outreach, in which marketers seeking to drive travel search reach out to consumers in the offline space, and the playing field for travel search is at once dynamic and replete with challenges. Manifest in the quest for new models, this includes a drive to more accurately attribute conversions to the most important step (or steps) in the travelers’ search for bookings. And the playing field is newly encompassing strategies regarding where brands and suppliers might best position themselves in the search chain, all the way down to the product level.

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