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

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Earlier this month we looked at how to capture travel leads at the beginning of the consumer journey. When people first start dreaming about that next getaway they generally turn to search engines, and Google calls those first few searches I-want-to-get-away moments.

This week, we’re focusing on the next stage of the buying process: time-to-make-a-plan moments. These are the actions people take once they’ve decided where they want to go and start plans together for that destination. So how do travel brands capture leads in these micro-moments and get them on the path to booking with them?

What are time-to-make-a-plan moments?

Once people decide on a destination (or a perhaps a few options), their attention turns to specific attractions, accommodation and other services.

“Top things travelers [sic] look for in these particular micro-moments include prices, hotel reviews/pictures/cost/availability, flight length, travel schedules, and activities in the destination.”
– Think with Google

As you can see, it’s vital to get your brand seen in these moments because they’re the first interactions that influence buying choices with specific brands.

According to Google, more than one in three travellers with smartphones discover new travel brands while researching on their phones. This is even more true for Millennial travellers, with 50% finding new brands as they go about their travel research.

Example of travel touch points over 3 months (Source: Google)
Example of travel touch points over 3 months (Source: Google)

Winning time-to-make-a-plan moments with AdWords

At this point, people are looking to plan the best kind of travel experience they can. They’re thinking about hotels, landmarks, tours, shopping and whatever else drives their travel urges. So this is where your marketing message changes from promoting your location (I-want-to-get-away moments) to your brand and its services.

You’ll still want to target people searching about your area, of course, but now you’ll want to use keywords like ‘hotel’ and ‘best restaurants’ – e.g.: ‘best restaurants in [your location]’.

It’s also important you have the right kind of content strategy and organic ranking to boost your AdWords efforts at this point. Having an article entitled ‘Top 10 hidden gems in [your location]’ ranking well in search will bring traffic to your site and get more people on your retargeting list. This is an essential part of nurturing leads along the buying process and changing your marketing message at the right moment.

For more information on using micro-moments and retargeting to turn travel leads into bookings, check out our recent webinar below:

Winning these moments on social

Google may have coined the phrase micro-moments but it’s not the only tool you can use to win them. Facebook and Instagram are the obvious social platforms for travel brands but how do you target people during these time-to-make-a-plan moments?

Well, there are various ways you can go about this but the most effective one means rethinking your idea about when people make their plans. Because today’s travellers make more plans on the go than ever before, using tools like Google Maps and Instagram for inspiration after they’ve landed at their destination.

This makes Facebook’s people travelling in this location targeting option invaluable for reaching people once they’re already in your location. This is ideal for tour operators, attractions and other services that people are likely to book on the road.

You don’t have to wait until people are travelling in your area to target them, of course. Publish visual content about your destination on Facebook and Instagram (using location hashtags) with the aim of getting page likes and followers so you can target them with ads that turn their interest into travel plans in your location.

Beyond AdWords and social advertising

AdWords and social advertising make a fine combination for winning time-to-make-a-plan moments, but they’re not the only tools at your disposal. We briefly mentioned Google Maps as another tool people use for making travel plans and it’s vital you have a complete business listing on there.

Other key tools for travellers in the planning stage are hotel booking sites, flight comparison tools and travel guides. So make sure your business features prominently on each tool that’s relevant to your brand and do everything you can to build a steady profile of positive reviews.

Next time

With your brand firmly in people’s minds we’re ready to move on to the next stage of the buying process – the let’s-book-it moments, which we’ll cover next time. If you need any help with targeting travellers via Google AdWords or social media in the meantime, we’ve got a team of experts who would love to offer a helping hand.

Just call us on 023 9283 0281 or fill in the form and we’ll get back to you.

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.

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