Published on Friday, October 31, 2008

Travel online spend still a priority


The majority of travel companies plan to increase or maintain online spend, according to a new survey.

The poll of 88 companies, including airlines, agents, tour operators, hoteliers and shipping companies, found that eight out of ten intend to at least keep spending online.

More than half said they planned to increase budgets and a quarter said they expected online marketing budgets to rise by between 11% and 50%.

Eleven out of 20 travel agencies plan to increase spending, with nine doing so by one to 50%.

Forty per cent of airlines planned to reduce spend by up to 10% while the remainder planned to increase their spend by varying degrees from 10% to more than 100%.

Ten hotel companies responded, with only two decreasing budgets by one to 10% and one keeping it level. Of the seven who plan to increase their budgets, four will do so by one to 10%, two by 11-50% and one by more than 100%.

When asked what online priorities travel marketeers had, more than two thirds said they would increase spending on SEO (66%), half planned to increase destination content and 47% expected to increase spend on AdWords. But a fifth said they expected to reduce spend on banners and six out of ten expected metasearch spend to remain the same.

Unique content was a priority for 41% of the travel companies surveyed, which also reinforces the strong position of SEO as sites increasingly try to offer exclusive content to their customers and to search engines.

User-generated content (34.8%) is the next priority for travel companies to add to their sites followed by video (28.3%), image galleries and marketing micro sites.

Delivering content over mobile and localising for non-English markets were the lowest priorities.

Joel Brandon Bravo, of digital online content specialist Whatsonwhen which conducted the research, said: “In these tough times it was encouraging to see the online channel continuing to grow in importance with more than 50% of respondents planning to increase online spend in this year.

“Within this there was a noticeable shift away from traditional online advertising such as banners and a much stronger emphasis placed on content and search engine optimisation.

“The main priority for customers was increasing conversions and the main issue clients had with their content was keeping it accurate and up to date.”

He added: â€œThe priority allocated to SEO and increasing destination content goes hand in hand because researching destinations has been shown to be the most popular use of Google in the travel category.

“In addition sites are offering information about the holiday destination as a key part of their product sale.

“The survey clearly shows that travel companies’ overall priority in adding content to their website is to increase customer conversion.”

by Phil Davies 

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