The Early Booking Holiday Industry Shows Unifying Paid and Organic Search is Essential to Success

Lorna Gill Posted by Lorna Gill

In this piece, we discuss whether holiday package aggregators are effectively using their sponsored and organic efforts to attract customers to low-deposit holidays.

Spring is here, and holiday package companies are stepping up their marketing campaigns to attract holiday planners to sign up for their best possible deals. Although, according to the Guardian, the hottest time for holiday bookings is actually in January, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start pushing your marketing efforts.

The most popular time to take a holiday is between June and September – when kids are on holiday from school – but this also means that it’s the most expensive time, because holidays are in such high demand.

With legislation dictating that any parent who takes their child out of school for a holiday be charged, travel agents are promoting irresistible offers to encourage families to book for the summer months despite the expensive prices.

A great tactic that travel companies can use is offering a deposit plan for parents who book early – breaking up the cost is attractive to a lot of people who know they’ll be able to save up in time to pay the balance before they go, but may not have the money straight away.

We looked at Adthena‘s data from five holiday package aggregators to see how well they were using sponsored search and organic search to attract those who might be looking to book a holiday now with the help of deposits.

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Top competitors total share of voice, Adthena data
[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”” title=”Top competitors paid share of voice, Adthena data” src=””][/lightbox]
Top competitors paid share of voice, Adthena data

Looking at only the sponsored search trends, On The Beach significantly outranked its competitors, maintaining an SOV of more than 50% on the keyword set over the whole year, although its SOV dropped significantly from 65% in June, falling to 45% in August.

What’s behind these drops? Other competitors predictably boosted their coverage for the keywords in prime time, with Travel Republic and Low Cost Holidays jumping up. Although On The Beach remained far in front, this specific drop did cause a corresponding drop in its overall SOV, as we can see in the first chart.

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Top competitors organic share of voice, Adthena data

Low Cost Holidays, however, capitalised on the biggest opportunity: in May, it stepped up its organic efforts out of seemingly nowhere, and the effect it had was staggering – it shot up to more than 50% of the total SOV, while all other competitors actually dropped by half.

And none of them managed to regain their prior levels until March, which must have come as a huge blow. It doesn’t seem to have significantly impacted these competitors’ overall SOV, however, as we see Low Cost Holidays still shot up, but On the Beach continued to match its prior success.

A shocking insight, however, reveals that, with the exception of Low Cost Holidays, all competitors’ organic SOV took a dive in June and July of 2014. Could this mean that all companies but Low Cost Holidays were hit by the algorithm updates Google released over that period?

Considering that organic search is considered to be the long-term variable (as explained by our white paper) while sponsored search is quick and changeable, we wouldn’t expect to see such massive variance in these companies’ organic SOV as we do here.

Maximising the Opportunity

When trying to push something as important as early holiday bookings, it’s essential to align your organic and sponsored search strategies to make sure that you’re prepared for any shift in the search market. Low Cost Holidays may not be investing a huge amount in sponsored search, but its organic push from May onwards made a massive impact on its overall SOV.

From the collected data, it seems that the majority of competitors have begun to hold back on their organic search over the last 12 months, preferring instead to invest in PPC. Although it did help some of them boost their total SOV, sponsored search isn’t the most valuable medium.

Perhaps it’s time for them to go back to the basics, start working on organic listings, and watch their SOV creep back up to the top.

Whether you’re trying to target the families that want to pay an early deposit, or those just looking for cheap holidays at peak times, consider using tools like Adthena’s competitive intelligence for search to boost your visibility and better your brand.

(Main image credit: Pascal/flickr)

No Adthena client data was used in this insight

About the author

Lorna Gill
Lorna Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies and is passionate about translating technical information into stories that excite and delight.