The importance of search engine optimisation and advertising was demonstrated at this weeks EyeForTravel Summit.
Opening the debate on search engines as the new distribution channel for travel, Google head of vertical markets group, Ian Carrington told the audience that Easyjet spends pound;18,000 per day on Google.
Further compelling evidence came from Tim Frankcom, head of travel Europe at Yahoo. His company launched the latest version of Yahoo Travel this week, and lists companies such as British Airways, Lastminute.com, and Thomas Cook among its customers, although did not disclose their spend.
During his presentation, Carrington issued a series of --golden rules for companies planning to spend money with search engines such as Google. They included ensuring --deep links to your site, taking people straight to the product they want. For example, if someone searched --flights to Madrid January 12, the link would take them to a booking page for those flights, rather than a homepage where they would have to enter the search criteria again.
Another rule, according to Carrington, is to develop offline campaigns together with search engine optimisation strategies. He cited the example of Norwich Union, whereby Google found users were entering the search term --quote me happy, which was used in the Norwich Unions television and print media advertising campaign.
Similar results had been achieved when Lastminute.com launched its --keep weekends sacred campaign, he said.
Yahoos Frankcom agreed with Carrington on the need to get deep links to sites, but also said that live pricing was increasingly important, to ensure users did not find the price of their holiday changed when clicking through to the website of the travel company.
He told the audience that the latest version of Yahoo Travel features 20,000 destination guides, with spaces for paid advertising, sponsored links and meta search spaces for companies wishing to sell travel products. --Search is all about getting access to customers you wouldnt usually reach, he said.
This reach is vast according to evidence presented by Google, which claims to reach 75% of internet users in the UK, or Yahoo, which claims to top this by reaching 80%.
The thoughts of the audience were represented by a survey carried out at the start of the debate, which found 82% of respondents thought an effective search engine strategy key to survival.
Report by Ginny McGrath
Thursday, June 9, 2005