Now is the Time to Reach the Wandering Vacation Planner

Consumers drive the success of any hotel, Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) or vacation rental company in the travel industry. For a marketer, the “consumer” can be a complicated concept to fully grasp. The ideal travel consumer can be hard to reach at times in the many places they visit online while vacation planning. The advantage goes to the marketer that knows the consumer better than anyone else.

Owning and utilizing proper tools, tactics, strategy and big data will ensure that you more efficiently and effectively identify and reach the consumer at various stages. You will know where they are in the planning process, where they are coming from and where they went next, which allows you to present relevant content in ways that make marketing dollars go further.

A consumer can start their vacation planning process whenever they want and however they want. With vacation planning comes imagination (thinking about a vacation), contemplation (deciding to take a vacation), consideration (thinking about where to take a vacation), irresolution (indecision on where to take a vacation), exploration (searching deeper for the ideal vacation location), selection (selecting the vacation destination), anticipation (preparing and awaiting the vacation) and finally satisfaction (reminiscing their vacation). Reaching the consumer with tailored content at every stage of this planning process is vital for any marketing manager working in the travel industry today. It requires each marketer to be innovative with their marketing efforts and strategies.

When in doubt… Google it!
There are two types of vacation planners, Trip Planners and Deal Seekers. Trip Planners start planning as far as 6 months out and make up about 31.1% of travelers. Deal Seekers start planning around 3 months out and make up about 55% of travelers1. These groups both tend to book last minute so it’s important to have continuous contact with them throughout the vacation planning process. When travel planners start their process, 48.4% of these consumers are turning to search engines2. At this early stage in the planning cycle, it’s important to make them aware of your brand and that you can provide the service for their needs and wants. This can best be done with proper strategy and tools.

Typical search terms and how they path
Travel industry marketers should always prioritize keywords with high-intent search indicators, as these lead to more conversions than broad terms. Recently, the concept of Intent Marketing has become a successful strategy within search marketing. When search terms include transactional terms like purchase, rent, reserve, etc. or super-specific information (like the exact name of your business), it’s a strong indication that the searcher knows what he or she wants and is ready to act.3  Besides high-intent keywords that lead to more conversions, broad terms that are more informational are also very important. Consumers typically search for their accommodations simultaneously with their search for other aspects of their vacation, such as destinations, attractions and dining. Examples of this type of query are “North Carolina vacation rental”, “hotels near Dollywood Amusement Park” or “Rocky Mountain cabin rentals”.

Where the consumer links after their search are truly dependent on how high your business ranks in the search results. Typically, the consumer won’t go farther than the first three pages of results before making a new query and the CTR drops off tremendously when ranking on pages 2 and 3.3 The higher you rank, the more likely you are to secure that consumer’s interest. This can be done most cost-effectively only by a PPC strategist that can adjust buying habits and keyword bidding on the fly. Securing high rankings for enough relevant search queries will begin to compound positive effects. Whether they click through to your website or social media platforms, presenting proper content before and after they make this move is most important. A well-defined and executed content strategy accomplishes this and is imperative for any travel industry marketing manager to be successful.

Content Above All Else
Many marketers know that targeting specific consumers who are more inclined to convert requires setting personas and target audiences. These efforts will allow you to present content to someone who is already interested in your brand but doesn’t know it yet. The overall goal is to build destination appeal and increase the user’s appetite to visit simultaneously, which can best be done with a well-defined content strategy. Dependent on where they fall in the vacation planning/booking funnel, it’s important to present them with variations of content that work best at each stage. Early in the funnel, it’s important to present small “snack-sized” content that can be easily consumed and shared. The deeper consumers travel, the more refined and direct the content should become.

Imagery is a great asset to use once a consumer is in the deeper stages of their planning process. You don’t want to present just any image of your destination. Consumers are quick to move on if an image doesn’t grab their attention, so owning and utilizing the best imagery possible is more important than you may think. Maintaining captivating imagery on your website, social media platforms, and/or other digital assets will keep your destination fresh and welcoming to the consumer. As they near the bottom of the funnel with real intent to visit, it’s best to deliver itinerary-style content, which can include specific activities/attractions, specific businesses in the area and tips/tricks to make the most of their vacation. With proper tools, big data and thought-out strategies, you’ll be able to better identify this consumer, personalize their journey as they make it, and most importantly, make your destination their ideal vacation destination.

Can USDM provide?
USDM (Universal Standards for Digital Marketing, LLC) – is a leading integrated digital consulting firm built from the ground up with a digital DNA. We are Brand and Demand Generation Experts. Brands look to us for their advertising strategy, and to develop their digital assets and creative and user experience. We execute on marketing and advertising through data-drive end-to-end brand engagement, using digital media, (Earned, Owned and Paid) social, mobile and emerging technology. Our “Client-Partner” approach aligns our digital services with client goals to consistently deliver outstanding results and return on investment. If you would like to learn more about how USDM can help you build your brand, contact us at We love to dive into this with brands whether they are trying to crawl, walk or run.

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