Travel marketing: how to capture those ‘time-to-book-it’ moments

Over the past few months we’ve been looking at various micro-moments for travel purchases – and this week it’s all about those ‘time-to-book-it’ moments. This is where people make the vital decision and choose who they’re going to book with.

For travel brands, these final interactions before the conversion are quite unique as well. Mobile has completely changed the way people research and book online; it’s even changed the way people travel – all of which presents unique opportunities to capture those ‘time-to-book-it’ moments.

Time-to-book-it searches are highly localised

By the time people are ready to make bookings, they’ve decided where they’re going and probably done their homework on flights, hotels and local attractions. So we’re talking about highly localised searches at this stage of the consumer journey. Things like [specific hotel name] + [location] or “cheap flights to [location]” are the kind of queries you’ll be targeting.

Kendra book it moments search path

Source: Google

In many cases, travellers have narrowed down their choice of hotel to a few options, have a list of attractions to check out and some activities they want to try. These people are done with the time-to-make-a-plan moments and they now choosing between specific options.

This means you have two general audiences to target at this late stage of the booking process. First, there are those who are considering you as the brand to book with. Then you have those who aren’t, but might if you can grab their attention with the right offer.

The most important thing to remember at this point is people are not loyal to their plans; they will book with a different brand if the right offer comes along.

Price sensitivity is high in time-to-book-it moments

Studies show people in time-to-book-it moments are anxious about getting the best price they can and this makes it a great time to introduce an offer people can’t refuse. Even if they haven’t come across your brand until now, you can still grab their interest with special offers.

Combine AdWords location targeting with price sensitive messages to reach people at this vital point. Put their price sensitivity to the test, asking them if they’re sure they’ll be getting the best deal from the brands they’re considering.

For travellers who already have you on their list of options, promoting special offers through remarketing ads can give them the extra push they need. But you’ll also need to make sure your packages stack up well against the other brands they’re comparing you to.

People compare the small details in time-to-book it moments

Price isn’t the only deciding factor in travel booking; people also want to know they’re getting the best overall package for their money. This is where they scour online reviews and check images on Google to see hotel rooms, restaurant interiors and nearby attractions. Users can access all of this from Google Maps but you’ll also want to optimise for Google Images.

Qualifying for Google’s seller rating extensions is a huge benefit at this stage but, if you haven’t got enough reviews, there are other extensions (eg: review extensions) you can use to create more compelling search ads in the meantime.

Going back to those remarketing ads with special deals, try to make them time-limited offers to create a sense of urgency and get people clicking through to your site. For more info on reviews and using remarketing to guide people along the travel micro-moments, you can watch our webinar or download the guide.

Mobile bookings haven’t overtaken desktop

Whilst travellers are making more bookings on mobile now, the majority still turn to desktop. Google research suggests there are two main reasons for this and the first one brings us back to pricing:

Leisure travelers information check

Source: Think with Google

Only 23% of leisure travellers are confident they’re getting the best prices on mobile, which prompts them to move over to desktop for comparison. And that’s not all. Travel brands are still failing users when it comes to providing a mobile booking experience. Google says “54% of leisure travellers and 69% of business travelers[sic] say that mobile limitations or mobile usability are their main reasons for booking on another device.”

The first thing this tells us is you need to provide the best possible mobile experience and use incentives to get people booking on their phones. Start with mobile optimisation and offer discounts for people who book on their smartphones. Use your competitors’ poor mobile experiences against them by converting users before they feel the need to move over to desktop. You’ll cut in on a huge chunk of travel bookings if you can pull this off.

You also want to consider desktop booking habits in your bid adjustments for devices. If people are moving over to desktop to check prices, they’ll be turning to search engines – and this is the time to get your offer in front of their eyes with text ads.

Targeting travellers on the move

One of the biggest impacts mobile has made on travel is the activity people get up to while they’re overseas. Whether it’s looking for restaurants in the area, local attractions or checking online reviews for places they’ve seen along the way, there are tonnes of conversion opportunities to be had while people are travelling.

You’re not limited to Google platforms for this either. People are uploading selfies to Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis and both social networks comes with the wonderful option to target users while they’re travelling in your area. This mobile activity opens up travel marketing to local brands who want tourists coming through the door.

So whether you’re running local attractions, tour operations, accommodation for backpackers, restaurants or anything else people buy into along the way, remember there are plenty of conversions to be had after people reach their destination.

Hopefully, that gives you an insight into the power of time-to-book-it moments. Sadly, we can’t cover everything in one article but we’re only an email, phone call or social message away if you want more tips on how to grab those vital bookings.

Other articles in the series

Travel marketing: How to capture those ‘time-to-make-a-plan’ moments

Travel marketing: How to capture those ‘I-want-to-get-away’ moments

Duncan Sills profile picture
Duncan Sills

Duncan has been working in digital marketing since 2011, managing PPC Campaigns for the likes of Mothercare and Periproducts. In 2016, he made the switch from client side to agency and joined the Vertical Leap Team. More recently, he has been invited to speak at local business events, digital marketing conferences and Google’s Head Office on the finer points of audience targeting available through PPC channels. He has a History degree from York University, a CIM Certificate in Professional Marketing and formal Theology & Leadership Training from London Seminary. Duncan is also the Pastor of Christ Church Fareham, a new Church that he launched with a team in September 2018. He plays hockey for Fareham Hockey Club and 5-a-side Football every week. He is also the reigning office Fifa Champion.

More articles by Duncan
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