By Richard Dunmall, chief revenue officer at
The holiday season is upon us and people everywhere are planning their winter getaways. Whether tourists are seeking to visit winter wonderlands or to escape the colder climates in search of the sun, winter travel calls out to marketers and brands who’re looking to go on the journey with their consumers.
However, it’s nearly impossible for brands to reach these users if they aren’t aware of their travel booking habits.
Getting the correct messages to the right customer can be difficult, but it’s one that marketers in the industry need to get right.
By exploring the online behaviour of travellers to and from the UK, insights can help marketers to plan and optimise their travel-specific digital advertising campaigns and reach out to the right set of consumers at the right moment. This will, in turn, result in more targeted and effective campaigns, delivering improved ROI for brands.
In order to navigate the UK travel market, we monitored searches made by Brits, for travel between April and September 2016. Research found that travellers in the UK mostly book their winter travels on the weekdays, with 16% of bookings made on a Monday.
Peak booking times during weekdays were found to be from 9am to 3pm, while on the weekends, bookings peak in the early evening between 6pm to 8pm. From these results, it would be advisable for marketers to increase their advertising spends and advertise heavily during these peak times.
So, where are people heading for their festive getaway? With 24.5% of travellers in the UK heading to London, research shows that they are keen to explore the wonders of Hyde Park, Christmas markets and haunted pubs. We also see that the top cities that these travellers are booking from are cosmopolitan destinations such as Glasgow and Manchester.
When it comes to travelling abroad, it appears that people want to spend their winter the Irish way, with most travellers booking holidays to Dublin, followed by New York and Dubai.
So, whilst some travellers look to enjoy wintery locales, others are seeking the heat of the sunshine. By targeting travellers with deals on top destinations such as Dubai, marketers can reach and entice users who are still in the planning stage, which ultimately translates into a much more effective marketing campaign.
Social media also plays a pivotal role in consumer booking habits. With the likes of travel pictures on Pinterest and holiday snaps on Facebook, social platforms offer plenty of inspiration for travellers looking for their next escape. By looking at the most popular topics of conversation on Twitter, marketers can identify how best to speak to potential travellers.
If we look, for instance, at winter travel currently, we see keywords such as Christmas (1371 tweets), Holiday (1235 tweets) and Family (1021 tweets), followed by Getaway, Adventure and Spain. By knowing the trending keywords used on social platforms, marketers can effectively target and segment traveller’s booking habits at a more granular level.
Another way to utilise this platform would be to use celebrity endorsement or sponsored social posts that will make it possible to reach a wider audience and spark engagement.
Exploiting social media is a great way to develop online relationships with target consumers, but what about offline? One technique that brands could look to implement as we move into 2017 is virtual reality (VR).
Earlier this year Thomas Cook, offered customers an instore, VR holiday. Customers were given the opportunity to try on VR headsets and experience a 3D, 360-degree holiday destination. Offering a try-before-you-buy experience is one technique in which marketers can look to entice potential holiday makers – there’s nothing more powerful than transporting consumers to the destination, even just for a short moment.
By analysing in-depth audience data such as booking locations, travel routes, and social trends, it’s possible to provide invaluable and actionable insights that marketers can utilise for digital advertising campaigns. To do this, marketers must understand their consumer’s winter travel preferences and ensure they are engaging with them at the right time, through the right channel, with the right message.