Honeymoons, just like family holidays, are especially popular during the summer months. But how are travel agents marketing the post-wedding trips they have on offer?
As I’ve already explored in a previous post, summer is rather unsurprisingly one of the most popular times for weddings and holidays.
These days, the bride and groom-to-be are increasingly asking for money from their guests rather than wedding gifts, according to Debenhams and the Independent — engaged couples have often already been living together for quite some time, and therefore already have everything they could need for their home.
Instead, couples are opting to put money towards their honeymoons, and that means big business for online travel agents.
To examine how newlyweds are choosing and booking their honeymoons, I’ll be comparing the performance of the members-only holiday site Voyage Prive and online-only agents Travel Republic and On The Beach to see how they are each marketing themselves to honeymooners.
The Leader of the Pack
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Taking a look at overall performance over the last 12 months, it’s clear that the luxury-focussed Voyage Prive held its own against On the Beach and Travel Republic for most of the year.
However, it dropped out of the market in both December, when Christmas came around so people are spending money on presents and in May, when it’s likely couples would have already booked their honeymoon if they were planning on going away immediately after their summer wedding.
When spending so much on a trip, it’s unlikely couples would want to leave booking until the last moment, but would instead plan further ahead.
This demonstrates that when companies like Travel Republic don’t have competitive intelligence, it may look like they’re doing well on the surface and gaining more clicks, but the whole picture shows that they were responding to natural market conditions they couldn’t control.
Rather than making strategic decisions and reacting to the market, they were following customer behaviour, which means they were unable to have a high-level of clicks throughout the year, allowing competitors to jump in.
The Cost of a Honeymoon
A survey released by You and Your Wedding magazine revealed that a honeymoon is a couple’s second-biggest expense associated with their wedding, falling just behind the venue.
The average honeymoon last year cost a whopping £3,164, showing that newlyweds are happy to spend up to 15% of the total wedding budget on a holiday.
With this sort of spending power, it’s no wonder the bride and groom would be looking for a luxury holiday — and what better way to find one than through a website that promises to save up to 70% on otherwise high-cost trips?
Although Voyage Prive put on a great performance for the majority of 2014 and much of 2015 to-date (with November and December in the lead-up to Christmas serving as the only exception), it seems to have stopped its spend in May and June, allowing both On The Beach and Travel Republic to snatch a big share of the market.
Let’s look into the keyword targets to see if we can find out why Voyage Prive may have taken a step back in the last couple of months.
A Focus on All-Inclusive Luxury
The keyword gaining the most clicks over the last 30 days was honeymoon vacations, which only Voyage Prive bid on.
In fact, it would seem as if the company has decided to focus solely on that keyword. Although it had previously bid on all inclusive honeymoon and cheap honeymoons, Voyage stepped back its spend in both May and June, allowing On The Beach to take the lead on all inclusive honeymoon and Travel Republic to take cheap honeymoons.
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[lightbox rel=”group1″ width=”860″ href=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/TopCompetitorsSOV-CheapestHoneymoon.png” title=”Top competitors share of voice, cheap honeymoons, Adthena data” src=”https://www.adthena.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/TopCompetitorsSOV-CheapestHoneymoon.png”][/lightbox]
Taking a look at the seasonal performance of the two most competitive keywords, it’s clear that Voyage Prive is trying hard to react to market conditions, only spending on PPC when searches for honeymoon breaks are at their highest.
Additionally, with Christmas falling in December, it’s unlikely couples would be thinking about their honeymoon, especially expensive luxury breaks, but would be more likely spending money on Christmas presents leaving little cash for a blow-out holiday.
This created a vacuum in the market that Travel Republic could then pick up on, but instantly lost when Voyage Prive re-entered in January.
Google Trends shows that honeymoon-related searches jump in January after a downward trend in the run-up to Christmas.
At this point, Voyage Prive’s SOV increased dramatically, while both On The Beach and Travel Republic’s SOV soared during the Christmastime lull, suggesting the two companies are not adapting their strategies to the seasons.
There was also a slight dip in searches between April and May, a trend that let up at the beginning of June, then continued towards the end.
Although Voyage Prive started pulling back on this spend in March, it doesn’t seem to have picked up again, despite the fact that Google’s trend graph demonstrates another rise in consumer interest. I’ll monitor this closely to see if the company decided to pick up spend again in July.
Is Voyage Prive’s Strategy One to Follow?
Voyage Prive’s strategy of turning its PPC on and off throughout the year seems to have paid off, with the biggest overall SOV of the three competitors over the last year.
Despite having the fewest overall keywords in comparison to the bigger companies On The Beach and Travel Republic, the company is cashing in on all the inclusive luxury holidays it has on offer, knowing newlyweds will be seeking them out en masse.
Although it could diversify its keyword choices, Voyage Prive’s seasonal strategy is rather clever. Still, On the Beach and Travel Republic could use that strategy to get a bigger SOV for themselves, and not just by depending on the times Voyage Prive drops its spend.
Adthena’s competitive intelligence for search can help companies like Travel Republic and On the Beach increase their ROI by offering complete visibility of the market across a range of keywords much bigger than they might have imagined were valuable.
(Main image credit: wazimu/flickr)