COVID-19 Re-launch Strategies for Travel PPC

Author: Gary Reid
14th May 2020
PPC / Travel PPC

As countries start to ease lockdown it’s becoming apparent that all across Europe hotels, villas and resorts are starting to look at how they re-launch online activity. Portugal, for instance, is looking to re-open hotels on 1st June, with measures to ensure hygiene and social distancing. The first few weeks will be key to getting your travel PPC right.

It’s currently an empty landscape

Booking.com, along with just about every other travel aggregator and brand paused all activity as lockdown started across Europe. Spend has gone from billions to zero leaving the search landscape empty of paid adverts.

No PPC adverts

However, this will quickly change and it’s likely that the large aggregators will come back hard with, spending high and making the auction more expensive for advertisers. Why? Probably because the latent demand will look to book quickly.

It’s likely that other things will have changed too.

A compressed user journey

With months to dream and plan the emphasis will probably be on ‘let’s book it’ and those who ‘can’t wait to explore’. The winners in the battle of the user journey will be those who can change their messaging to suit consumers’ new needs, flexibility, capacity and safety. It is also likely that the usual feeder markets will change.

A change in feeder locations

As flights may not open at the same speed as hotels and as consumers may not initially feel safe using planes it is likely that the usual feeder markets will change. This could see a shift towards domestic bookings and this will require a rethink on budget allocation as well as ad copy.

Flexibility in booking terms

It goes without saying that consumers will be wary of another travel lockdown and flexibility will have to be a big part of messaging when ads go live. If you are offering this then it needs to be the focal point in your ads and landing pages.

Capacity, seasonality and time from booking to stay

Key to success will be managing capacity as it changes for social distancing with seasonality, a shorter season with fewer rooms will lead to an intense marketplace for some time. This is also coupled with the compressed time to stay, last minute may become the new norm.

Niches will rule as people search for a quiet spot

As capacity changes and people have to look at domestic markets, niches will become more important. Everyone knows what you do on a two week holiday in Spain, you go to the beach, that changes if it’s two weeks in the UK. Activity holidays or destinations that cater for a wide range of activities could be high on wish lists, especially after months of lockdown.

Use visuals on the display network to your advantage

Because of all of these changes consumers will need visual prompts. They are facing changes to holiday plans, destinations etc. so might need some high-engagement formats to peak their interest again.

What can you do

Here are our top 8 actions for the next few weeks in preparation of a move out of lockdown

  1. Calls to action need to be tailored to the compressed user journey
  2. Bids and budget needs to be adjusted to take into account all of the above
  3. Rethink landing pages to highlight a changed user perspective
  4. Push what’s working, test and learn and move on
  5. Don’t forget about Bing
  6. Remarketing will be key, quickly measure conversions to manage audience and frequency caps that will work
  7. Inspire through Instagram, there will be a lot of noise when opening begins, be ready to stand out
  8. Finally, as Google would always say, don’t forget YouTube

If you find yourself needing some help getting this done why not get in touch, we have years of travel experience with many of the top hotel, travel and flight brands.

POSTED IN: PPC - Travel PPC