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23 April 2018 / Opinion

Holiday habits: Tips for travel brands targeting key customers


When we strip it back, all marketing is about communicating a message from your brand to individuals who either are or could become a customer.

Knowing as much as you can about that customer enables us to gain a better understanding of what message your customer will respond to and how they want to receive information.

When you then add the fact that these factors change depending on what industry you operate in, it can become a minefield of variables.

In partnership with YouGov, we have highlighted how customer buying habits can be analysed to enable you to interpret the journey your customers make and how using such a level of insight makes each and every journey unique.

In this case, we have presented five buying cycles within the travel sector; beach, city break, cruise, safari and skiing. We have shown how UK holiday-makers are most likely to book these holidays,and discovered where they find inspiration and what they're influenced by.

Beach holidays

When it comes to beach holidays, the majority (79%) start their journey unsure of where to go. With no destination in mind, it's important your homepage isn't just a search box. This is the perfect opportunity to guide users towards a decision, through a combination of thoroughly considered site architecture and in-depth, expert content that's easily accessible no matter where users land.

Inspiration for two fifths (41%) also comes from friends and family. Many rely on recommendations from others they trust, so ensure you harness the power of social media by creating engaging ads that spark conversation.

More than half (53%) are influenced by temperature, so use weather targeting within display ads to capture a user when it's rainy in the UK. Show the temperature at the destination, tempting them to book a getaway.

Programmatic audio is also a fantastic way to target users. For example, on Spotify you can now target ads by 'mood', genre and even specific playlists that have a beach-themed title.

Finally, ensure functionality accommodates cross-device use. Users are likely to use mobile first for research, before using a desktop to book.

City breaks

City breaks are most popular around special occasions, such as Valentine's Day and long weekends, so use this insight to weight your PPC budgets accordingly.

When it comes to inspiration, 52% turn to friends and family for recommendations - the highest of all holiday types. Here, engaging ads on social are vital.

The culture and history of a destination largely influence over a third (38%). Map functionality is crucial for city breakers, as they will want a hotel close to local attractions. Great content is critical here too, but make sure you can answer all a customer's questions in one easily accessible place.


For those who love cruises, inspiration comes from elsewhere. Nearly half (49%) turn to review sites, seeking the opinion of others who've already been onboard. Make sure your great reviews are visible and maintain your listings in Google My Business to cultivate a professional, trustworthy appearance.

Demographic data shows consumers in this market are the oldest of all five holiday types, with 55% aged 55+. An even higher percentage (58%) own homes, so utilise this knowledge to inform where you find your key audience.

For cruises, the primary metric may be a call rather than an online booking. Carry out A/B testing to increase the prominence of a phone number, and add call extensions to your AdWords account, campaign or ad group level. This way, you can add phone numbers to PPC ads and the user can call directly, with the call qualifying as a conversion.

Safari trips

This is the only holiday type where we found an imbalance in the gender of the bookers, with 73% of females booking safari holidays, the other holiday types remain around 50/50. Adjust targeting, bids and messaging accordingly to become more female-focused.

Culture and history influence 36%. A high impact ad unit, possibly including a video, will enable you to showcase the experience and bring the safari to life.

Online travel agents inspire 67% of safari-goers. Tailor your site to be as informative as possible, to allow you to host the first step of their journey. As for the last step (the booking), aggregators and OTAs win for every holiday type. Make sure you can compete, with seamless UX that meets the expectations of aggregators.

Skiing breaks

Our final holiday type is largely driven by time of year. Skiers rely on temperature and snow levels, so if you have this data to hand use it in your search campaigns via AdWords ad customizers to help your creative stand out.

A third (34%) are inspired by YouTube during the booking process, so consider directing your ads here. If you're uncertain when to run ads, use a real-time consumption trends tool to find out when users talk about certain destinations, brands and topics related to skiing.

For holidays like skiing that tend to have a long booking cycle, it's important to remain visible at every stage of the customer journey. When creating content, make sure you can support queries at every stage.