We live in an ultra-competitive digital age, with businesses across all sectors vying for online visibility and coveted top spots on search engine results pages (SERPs). Nowhere is this more apparent than in the travel industry where an often saturated market means travel agencies are facing increasing pressure to attract and retain travellers.
However, by implementing the right digital marketing strategies, travel brands can boost their online presence, leading to increased booking potential. In this article, we’ll explore 8 digital marketing strategies that travel agencies can use to increase their visibility, engage with potential customers and drive conversions. From SEO and social media marketing, to paid ads and brand tone of voice, we will provide actionable tips and best practices for travel agencies looking to take their digital marketing efforts to the next level.
The digital marketing strategies that will take your travel agency to the next level
Scaling the SERPs, tracking channel ROI, building backlinks, increasing direct bookings, engaging your valuable travel agent partners, tackling high abandon rates… the list of challenges facing marketing managers (such as yourself) working at travel agencies often seems endless. Here at Adido, we have collaborated with a wide range of travel brands over the years and pride ourselves on continually being at the forefront of our specialism by constantly developing our digital knowledge within all areas of digital marketing for travel sites, empowering our clients to be as competitive as possible.
In a nutshell, we know what works and what doesn’t.
That’s why we’ve come up with the following 8 top marketing strategies that every travel site needs to stay competitive.
1. Ensure your travel agency’s website is up to scratch and mobile friendly
There’s no use in upping your marketing game if all it leads users to is a clunky, slow, uninspiring website with no clear user journey. First port of call is ensuring your site is mobile-friendly.
The travel industry hasn’t always been renowned for providing a good mobile-first experience, but with page speed now a critical factor in mobile search rankings, travel websites are having to up their game to compete with the big boys. When we looked at page speeds for 200 travel websites in 2020, we found that the average mobile travel website speed score was 26 out of 100! Desktop scores aren’t always significantly better either, with an average score of 55/100.
Considering 41% of travel bookings were made via mobile in 2021, there is still a lot of opportunity for travel websites that get mobile right. That said, it’s not solely about having a solid responsive design. A simple structure and design which is easy for both search engines and users to navigate is essential. This means clear and concise categories such as destinations, packages and services with obvious Calls To Action (CTA) that encourage users to take the next step, such as making a booking or enquiry.
A good example here is Jet2holidays. Their website exemplifies a simple, smooth UX when it comes to searching for destinations. The main search functions are well-highlighted and located in the user's focus area. Images are related, and change according to search requests. The background is uncluttered and doesn’t distract from the content, which has a clear CTA. Most importantly, the booking journey is straightforward with minimal navigation.
2. Fill your website with high quality travel-related content
Keeping your site fresh and up to date with valuable and relevant content such as destination guides, tips and recommendations can help to differentiate your agency from the competition and encourage return bookings from customers.
One area of content that can sometimes be overlooked or under-estimated is the travel blog. A good travel article or blog will ideally paint a picture that is unique, inspirational and brings something new to the table, invoking an experience which allows the reader to walk in the writer's shoes. Tools such as Google Trends can help identify what people are searching for at specific points in the year, while sites such as Tweak Your Biz can provide ideas for article or blog titles if you’re needing a bit of an inspiration shove.
Remember though to keep your content original, unique and relevant to your target audience. This is not only what your readers want to see but also what search engines such as Google are keen to promote on its platform, in line with its E-E-A-T quality rater guidelines.
High quality visuals are also, unsurprisingly, essential in order to capture the attention of potential customers and convey the unique features and experiences of a particular destination. Images and videos can help to create an emotional connection with the viewer, helping to showcase the desired location along with scenic views, activities and local culture.
3. Search engine optimisation should be an integral part of your marketing strategy
If you think search engine optimisation (SEO) is nothing more than stuffing as many keywords as possible into your content, think again. A good SEO strategy helps to promote your travel brand, boost visibility and ensure your site reaches as wide an audience as possible, at the right time.
Booking travel is typically done in stages (often referred to as micro moments). SEO can help a travel brand appear at those key stages of the consumer's booking journey, aiding lead nurturing and subsequently improving conversion opportunities. From a more ‘behind the scenes’ perspective, technical SEO helps to ensure your Core Web Vitals are top notch - meaning good site speed and crawlability. Performing regular technical SEO audits can help to ensure your Core Web Vitals - and your site as a whole - is ready for take off.
4. Build a strong social media presence
Social media is now a key player in the travel industry. A 2022 report by travel firm Arriva found that almost one in three travellers use social media for holiday inspiration, with an even higher figure for Gen Zs (60%) and millennials (40%). On TikTok alone, the hashtag “travel” boasts over 94 billion views. When you think about it, social media and travel marketing are obvious bedfellows as they both focus on sharing experiences.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide a direct line of communication with customers, allowing travel brands to engage with their audience, subsequently building trust and credibility. A strong social media presence also allows travel brands to share visually appealing content (vital for travel brands) which can inspire potential customers to make a booking.
If you need further inspiration for your social media strategy, check out our article How to promote a travel agency on social media.
5. Consider PPC to increase relevant traffic to your website
Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is effective for promoting specific destinations, packages or services to a particular demographic, thus increasing the likelihood of attracting travellers relevant to your holidays and trips. When implemented correctly, PPC can also be a cost-effective way to increase brand awareness and reach a larger audience, showcasing travel companies in front of a large number of potential customers, even if they are not actively searching for related products or services. Additionally, paid marketing campaigns can be easily measured, allowing travel companies to track the effectiveness of their efforts and make adjustments as needed.
Ideally PPC and SEO should work hand in hand to target phrases which are profitable in both areas and also be used to support each other in peak and shoulder months. You can find out more about this in our 2021 ABTA webinar PPC and SEO working together in the travel and tourism industry.
6. Use tools to understand how people interact with your travel agency online
Data is key to understanding your customer base. By investing in tools that help you harness and analyse this data, you will be able to tap into valuable insight around how customers interact with your travel agency online. The Concorde of all these of course being Google Analytics - Google’s own free analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. Heatmap tools are useful for showing how users are navigating your website, which can help you understand the parts of your website that are most engaging and which ones need improvement (Hotjar is great for this), while tools such as Google Search Console provide insights into how people are searching for, and finding, your site. SEO tools like SEMrush are an essential aid for keyword research, and beneficial for tracking the keyword strategies of your competitors.
7. Share your customer experience
Being visible is one thing, being trusted is another. While search engines strive to ensure the two elements go hand in hand ( trustworthy content = good ranking potential), it’s up to the travel agency to ensure they build trust with their audience. One way of doing this is through social proofing - a concept relating to how customer testimonials, reviews and ratings can be used to demonstrate the popularity or credibility of a product or service. When people see that other customers have had positive experiences with a particular company, perhaps on review sites such as Feefo, they are more likely to trust that brand, leading to a potential increase in conversions and sales. Customers also want to see that businesses are readily interacting with customers, i.e. responding to reviews and social media mentions - both bad and good - and providing answers to queries promptly. This demonstrates to your audience that you are a brand who truly cares about providing a positive and proactive customer experience…which is what both users and search engines love to see. Take a look at an example involving tour operator On the Beach below:
Note how the company responded to this one star review within a day of it being posted. The response itself is apologetic and addresses the problem directly, rather than being standardised and generic. The explanation is detailed, yet clear, and the tone friendly.
This sort of response and the speed in which it was delivered will not only benefit the original reviewer, but also act as reassurance to other travel bookers that On the Beach is a company who genuinely cares about the service it provides.
8. Continuity of brand and tone of voice is imperative
Establishing a consistent brand tone across all platforms helps to promote a clear and recognisable brand identity, which in turn can increase brand loyalty and customer engagement. When the brand and tone of voice is consistent across all platforms, it helps create a cohesive and unified message for the customer. It also means that when a customer interacts with your brand on one platform, they will have a similar experience on another platform. In addition, this consistency can make it easier for your target audience to recognise and remember your brand, helping your site stand out from your competitors - a vital element in an increasingly crowded digital landscape.
Experts in travel industry marketing strategies
We don’t like to blow our own trumpet (ok, we do), but as a digital marketing agency with over 20 years’ experience, the Adido team knows what it takes to build a successful marketing strategy for travel brands. Don’t just take our word for it though - check out some of the incredible travel clients we’ve worked with recently, including Mersey Travel and Not Just Travel, to name but a few. We make it our mission to evolve each of our clients’ digital performance and we’d love to help with yours too! Speak to one of our travel marketing specialists today to find out how we can take your marketing strategy to the next level.