When it comes to Q4 holiday marketing, most in the industry immediately think “e-commerce” as it relates to Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping deals. However, under that broad category are the travel and hospitality verticals – especially given that the preponderance of U.S. domestic holiday travel occurs over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Those in the travel and lodging industry recognize this seasonal uptick by offering airfare, hotel and other travel deals timed around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Many brands specify “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” in prefacing their discounts, smartly optimizing for the season’s trending search terms. For example, Alaska Airlines features a Cyber Monday flight sale:
With nine of the 10 largest hotel groups being among BrightEdge’s clients, we wanted to delve into the demand for that sector leading up to the holiday season, so we leveraged our Data Cube for insights into the Q4 travel and hospitality outlook, so you can prepare.
Before discussing what we found, a bit of background …
Travel and Hospitality Search: A Journey
Once upon a time and not so long ago, people planning vacations, weekend getaways or business trips online did so exclusively on desktop. Enter the era of mobile devices – tablets and smartphones – apps and video, all within the past few years, and search around travel and lodging has changed drastically.
A year ago, when Google published its annual travel study https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/research-studies/2013-traveler.html, it found that an increasing number of searchers began their travel plans with online research, planned more family travel, and were more likely to use their mobile device for related information while on their trip:
A related “Think with Google” study from March of this year on travel content underscores the role of video (notably, YouTube) as an increasingly popular online medium for people considering travel. According to its report, uploads of travel-related videos grew by 190 percent from 2012 to 2013, exceeding all the other major YouTube categories for video uploads.
This year’s Google travel study (not yet officially published, but Tnooz.com reports it’s received a copy) indicates that over the year, search engines realized a gain of three percentage points, from 15 to 18 percent, as the starting point for research into airfares, and 6 percentage points (18 to 24 percent) for research into lodging. Learn more about travel digital marketing.
BrightEdge Data Cube Findings
Our latest Data Cube research into the travel and hospitality industry looked into three major categories:
- Travel and accommodation
- Travel only
- Accommodation only
Using our “Time Machine” technology, we were able to analyze travel search trends over time, and found that overall, online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and TripAdvisor have consistently performed well with organic search optimization, claiming a combined search share of 33.6 percent of the top three “deals and offers” domain listings:
While OTAs dominate the SERPs in organic content performance for deals and offers, individual hotels – led by Hilton and Marriott – showed notable success for tourist destinations and landmarks, as shown here:
The BrightEdge Data Cube research further uncovered the top 10 organic search terms in demand for each category studied as we head into the busy holiday season. BrightEdge CEO Jim Yu recently shared our findings with Search Engine Land readers on this.