How travel companies can take advantage of peak periods with the right search strategy

Written by Michael Ryan, Ink Digital

Peak seasons are crucial for generating revenue in the travel industry. As a travel company, increased visibility during high-demand periods can allow you to attract new customers, generate positive word-of-mouth referrals and strengthen brand loyalty, while maximising profitability. Therefore, it’s a prime time for ensuring your marketing strategy is working as effectively as possible.

Search engines play a big part in the holiday booking journey, with one report highlighting that 90 per cent of people do all their holiday research online. Therefore, implementing a strategic search strategy is one vital aspect you cannot afford to overlook to capitalise on these high-demand periods.

Identify your target audience and their search behaviour

Gaining a clear understanding of your target audience and their search behaviour during peak periods should be the first step in devising a strategy that will effectively get in front of as many prospects as possible.

Take the time to analyse the demographic characteristics and preferences of travellers during peak periods and explore their common search behaviours when planning trips during high-demand seasons. For example, according to research, there is a very steady seasonal trend of users searching for last-minute holidays in the summer months, with the search volume increasing consistently month over month from June until the end of August.

Understanding your target audience will help inform your keyword strategy, and clearly defining your current and potential customers will create a solid foundation for tailoring your efforts towards those most likely to engage with and benefit from what you’re offering.

Optimise your keywords

Conduct keyword research to identify relevant search terms and phrases associated with peak period travel.

Investigate which words are most applicable to your business and look closely at how difficult they are to rank for. When doing this, it’s important to have keywords that are targeting users at all stages of the customer journey.

Naturally, in tourism SEO there is a heavy emphasis on location-based keywords, as travellers often search for specific destinations or attractions. This means it’s crucial to optimise your content with these terms.

Additionally, make sure you are prioritising your keywords and search strategy based on ROI, and identify which destinations or holiday types have a higher propensity to book or provide the most profitability. Selecting keywords based on the ROI of profitable destinations ensures your marketing budget is being funnelled towards keywords with the best conversion rates. They also typically attract users who are closer to making a purchasing decision. Therefore, by focusing on these keywords, you can improve your conversion rates as you’re targeting an audience that is more likely to take the desired action.

However, don’t make the mistake of filling your content with as many keywords as possible in the hope this will push you up the rankings, as it could result in Google identifying this as an attempt in ‘keyword stuffing’, ignoring the content and making no difference to your rankings.

Enhance user experience

User experience should be front of mind when planning your search strategy at any time of year, but during busy peak periods it’s more important than ever to ensure a seamless journey.

User experience and search go hand in hand. SEO is crucial for getting your website to gain visibility on search engines, while neglecting user experience could undermine your success even with good SEO.

Users are more likely to convert [book a holiday, flights, etc.] via a website that provides a positive and seamless experience. In fact, 66 per cent of customers are willing to pay more for a stellar user experience, according to Nielsen.

Furthermore, around a third of travellers [32%] used a mobile device to book their holiday in 2023, while nearly a quarter [23%] used a mobile app directly. This means you also need to ensure your website, content and communications are geared towards a positive and seamless experience for mobile users.

The key is finding the right balance between optimising for search engines and providing a smooth user journey.

Focus on efficient lead management

Efficient lead management ensures every lead generated from your search campaigns is properly nurtured and followed up on. By effectively managing leads, you can increase the likelihood of converting them into paying customers and further maximise your ROI.

CRM systems can be invaluable in helping you nurture leads, as the nature of the travel sector means purchases often involve complex decision making and longer sales cycles.

A good CRM system will allow you to track leads over time, engage with them at various touchpoints, and provide personalised assistance throughout the decision-making journey, ultimately nurturing leads until they are ready to book.

As you’ll likely be dealing with a vast amount of customer data, including preferences, travel history, booking details and communication preferences, a CRM system can also help centralise and organise this data, providing a comprehensive view of each lead’s profile and interactions – essential for delivering personalised and targeted campaigns.

Monitor for continuous improvement

Time is of the essence during periods of high demand, so monitoring for continuous improvement is key to ensuring the success of your search campaign before it’s too late.

Establish key performance indicators [KPIs] to track how your search strategy is performing at any given time, and continually monitor performance and iterate accordingly, looking at campaign metrics, including click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI. This will allow you to assess your strategy’s performance and adjust based on real data.

Finally, conduct post-campaign analysis to identify insights, lessons learned, and opportunities for refinement in future peak period campaigns.

Final words

A well-executed search strategy is vital in maximising opportunities during peak periods for travel companies.

By taking a proactive approach, getting to know your audience, leveraging data-driven insights and finding opportunities for continuous optimisation, you can set your business up for success not only during in high-demand periods but all year round.

About the author

Michael Ryan is CEO and director of Ink Digital.