Digital Trends that are shaping the Travel Industry

The Internet, especially Google is now shaping the way we search and book our holidays. The internet has radically changed the way we look at our holidays, the way we plan our getaways and basically everything to do with the entire booking process. I can make a bet that not many people remember the days when you had to make the journey to you local travel agent to book a hotel and airfare. Well, those days are long gone and everything in terms of travel is done online. Hotel and flight reservations right through to car hire, villa rentals, even research on which hotel to stay at is all done online.

Websites like TripAdvisor, Bookingdotcom, Hotelsdotcom and other smaller niche branded websites like Bali Villa Escapes are now the ‘go to’ websites for anything to do with planning and booking your holiday. This huge online trend in travel is constantly evolving at a frightening pace and is forcing digital marketing and SEO agencies to look at ways to make these businesses more competitive online and get their share of the Australian travel dollar. The internet has made the travel industry accessible so that now all businesses can get their slice of the travel pie. You see it all the time with internet start ups setting up blogs, travel advice sites and their own small niche businesses to take on the big boys. As long as you get the right digital mix in terms of web design, SEO, social media and marketing you too can be a player.

Let’s face it, tourism is massive and in Australia it’s a $120 billion dollar industry and will continue to grow as the ease of booking and paying for travel becomes easier and more accessible to everyone. Airfares can now be booked within a few clicks of a button. This is huge and airlines are cashing in on this bonanza by offering more and cheaper flights and if you haven’t noticed it, planes are becoming fuller. Gone are the days where you can get a free seat next to you. Planes are fuller and more crowded than ever and this is all due to the internet.

People are travelling still for the same reasons but the way the journey starts has evolved considerably. The first thing someone does before they even think about booking a hotel, resort or villa is to go online do their homework and research as much as they can about the place. What are people saying about it, what are the reviews like and then and only then once they have exhausted all avenues of research do they hit the buy button.

With the advent of mobile, hand held technologies people are doing this type of research in increasing numbers. From comparing airfares and hotel deals, to seeing what people are saying about a travel destination, there is so much information available at your finger tips, where ever you are and where ever you go.

Marketers now more than ever have to be so aware of consumer buying behaviour and need to have their clients interests front and centre at all times of potential travellers. Let’s now look at some of the ways at which the travel industry has evolved and what savvy digital agencies are using to promote brands and businesses within the travel industry.

# 1 – You Tube is an amazing platform for promoting basically anything to do with travel. Videos posted to YouTube are a great way to tell the consumer about a hotel, restaurant or airline and it has a huge cut through rate. People use YouTube for all their travel research and the power of video on platforms like this are becoming the ‘go to’ marketing destination for many businesses. Think about it, if you have a beautiful hotel right by the ocean, the obvious marketing move would be to take a professional video of this and put it on YouTube. You can even add drone footage for a more dramatic effect.

# 2. Social Media is now king when it comes to travel
All you have to do is think about 2 social media giants like Facebook and Instagram and you basically have the entire travel industry covered. Instagram especially has taken off like a rocket over the past coup0le of years with a majority of the content all related to travel. Look at any picture and its most likely about someone taking a ‘selfie’ overseas in some exotic destination. This has given rise to 2 areas within these platforms that savvy agencies are delving into; managing social media campaigns for travel businesses and secondly the rise of influence marketing which is massive. Brands are now engaging with well known celebrities or individuals with a huge following to help push their product. Big monies are now being spent just for 1 Instagram recommendation. The logic behind this is if they are supposedly fans of your hotel, airline, villa whatever your selling in the travel game, then it must be good. Social media endorsements for travel brands are on the rise and certainly influence where people travel and where they now stay.

# 3. SEO is also still very important

People are using their Smart phones to do their research and make their travel decisions on the go. Hand held’s have led to the rise in instant and random travel bookings that would have never existed years ago when making such a booking was a lot of work and somewhat of a hassle. This means that your website must be found on Google when people are doing their search and for this to happen you do need SEO. Without it, you are basically dead in the water. If your travel business is not on Google and I mean right up there in the top positions, your not going to get all those juicy travel leads. Google is really toughening up their ranking criteria which makes it even harder for newbie’s to rank and be competitive in the travel space. This is why they need a top SEO agency to working for them.

This is really the tip of the iceberg and as the internet evolves so will new marketing strategies and platforms. Who knows where it will end up and what will be the next big thing in travel marketing but from our perspective if you stick to the main digital marketing techniques you will be in the best position to capture your share of the market – if your in the travel game and want to learn more about getting more business from the internet please call us on 02 9360 8514. I can show you some really great case studies of how we have taken business start ups to hugely successful companies in less than 2 years.

SEO for the Travel Industry, a Fantastic Result

SEO for the travel industry is now more important than ever. The reason I am saying this is because tourists and travellers from all over the world are now using the internet to book hotels, cars, villas, trips, insurance, flights, basically anything travel related will be in the first instance, researched online and then booked online.

Gone are the days of phoning up a travel agent and getting them to do all the hard yards, research, checking availabilities for you. They are long gone. Essentially, Google has seen to this. People all over the world now use their laptop and mobile phone to make travel plans and they use Google to facilitate this. There is no other search engine in the world they use other than Google and this is why SEO is so very important when it comes to driving potential tourists to your website. If your travel related website is not present and very high up on Google then you are basically out of business.

The whole premise behind SEO merges wonderfully with the travel industry. I can’t think of any marriage that is better suited to each other. The convenience, the information, the wealth of images and videos is right at your finger tips and you can do as much research as you like before making any travel plans or bookings.

Think about it, how many times do you Google anything to do with your destination before you actually make the booking. Let’s say you are looking for a hotel in Bali, how many times would you go to sites like Trip Advisor to check the reviews before making a booking. Or, how often have you gone from airline to airline online to check for the lowest prices. Perhaps you have even Googled the words: ‘cheap air fares’ and seeing what comes up.

The research now in the travel industry is all online and all booking no matter how large or small are all done with the power of the search engines. People have becomes so used to booking online that it is now considered normal. I cannot imaging going anywhere in the world, or staying in any hotel without firstly doing my research online and booking online.

I would like to highlight the power of Google, SEO and the internet with a real case study that goes to show you how SEO has intrinsically become so important in building online businesses and at the same time helping consumers. This is a real case study and you are most welcome to contact me for further information about this as the results are seriously unbelievable. Essentially, with 1 website and a powerful SEO campaign this business over the last 24 months has grown into probably Australia’s largest villa booking website for Aussies heading over to Bali.

Let me explain further. In March 2014 the business Bali Villa Escapes was started as the owners saw a gap in the market for Australian tourists wanting to rent hand picked quality villas in Seminyak, Bali. Sure, there were existing companies already doing this, but there was only a handful and there was room for another company to get in there and offer better quality villas geared 100% for the Aust market.

Most other villa booking agencies were trying to capture the world market and this meant that the poor Australian tourists had to pay everything in US dollars. With the state of the AUD v’s the $US  this meant that local were paying a premium. The big difference with Bali Villa Escapes is that the Australians could pay in local AUD and this meant huge savings.

bali villa escapes

So how does SEO fit into the picture?

The owners of BVE, contacted us to help them with their digital marketing. From UX design, with a heavy focus on customer conversion rates, copywriting, social media and lastly search engine optimisation or SEO, we did everything we could to get as many people to  visit the website. Admittedly, the process started off slowly and it was only after the 4 month mark that things started to really happen and pick up tempo.

Now I know all you people reading this are thinking that 4 months is a long time before seeing any type of results, but this is how it works in the digital space, especially when you are implementing and SEO campaign. Time lines here are extended and one must think medium to long term. Short term gains are simply an illusion and a dream, especially when it comes to Google ranking your site.

The owners of BVE where made aware of this and were totally happy to let organic, natural rankings take their course and allow us to do our SEO job. Well, the end results are absolutely outstanding, even if we do say so ourselves and I have taken 2 screenshots to show you exactly the type of results that we can achieve with our SEO strategies in a seriously competitive space; travel. Although I said previously that there was an opening in this space for another player, this does not mean that the niche was not seriously competitive. You still had the likes of other travel booking sites like Trip Advisor, booking.com, hotels combined, Trivago…the list is endless and it was an uphill battle. But we go there and the following results will prove this.

If you look at the the Analytics which we got from Google you can see the results for the last month, 1st-30th April 2016. Note in particular the number of page views and the number of sessions. This is a huge number. Also, look at the number of users coming to the site over the past month, over 16 000 people. These kinds of results can only be achieved by doing SEO slowly, methodically and with a strategy in place designed to outperform and out rank the competition. It succeeded.

I’d also like to draw you attention to another screen shot and that’s the one showing the rankings as of today on Google on 30/4/16 for the ultimate keyword ‘bali villas’. As you can see it’s at position number 1 and has been sitting there for well over 12 months. This is the core keyword and we know that once we had hit this prime position we knew the website traffic would start increasing the we know they leads and inquiries would start flowing. The site is also ranking extremely well for a number of other keywords that are driving huge amounts of potential holiday makers to the site. These results due to our SEO efforts are absolutely remarkable.

This was our aim from the very beginning. We know out target market and we know the keywords that we wanted to dominate online for and we went about doing this in a very aggressive yet totally Google compliant manner. We were very cognisant of never over optimising certain keywords but to go about this in a very tactical manner that is extremely organic.

I might add that we were also responsible for the social media and content marketing (blogging) for this site as well as ensuring everything we did was consistent with their over all brand strategy. The publishing of articles and blogs was done on a fortnightly basis and the social media was implemented weekly. We particularly focused on the 2 platforms Instagram and Facebook. We basically had all our bases covered here and felt that the combined strategies of SEO and digital marketing could make Bali Villa Escapes a very serious competitor in the industry.

 

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