Online advertising in the travel and tourism sector

Over the past few years there has been an increase in searches around how Brexit will impact the UK economy as a whole. Trends show that year on year, concerns go up.

But we’ve got good news if you work in the tourism sector – despite the concerns about Brexit, holidays abroad are rising in popularity!

What’s happening in the tourism sector?

Holidays abroad are rising in popularity

  • 47% of travellers planned on spending their holiday abroad in 2018, with a large portion of those who spent last year in the UK, switching to spend more time abroad.

Shorter holidays may be extended

  • A large proportion of those who took one week’s holiday last year are planning to extend their holidays to 2 weeks.

Price isn’t everything – but it’s a good start

  • Travellers care a lot about getting a deal when it comes to researching a holiday and less when it comes to making a booking – suggesting price acts as a first funnel.

Late bookers are less decisive

  • Those who wait to book their biggest holiday of the year are also the least sure of where they want to go and are more open to inspiration.


Travel and search

Peaks are a big deal

  • Peaks are defined as the first seven weeks of the year (January to the 2nd week of February). 78% of people who travel abroad book their holidays in January and 93% of people who travel abroad for their holidays take their vacations in August.

Peaks are also becoming more and more important every year

  • 15% of all travel searches were made in peaks in 2017 up from 13.8% in 2016

  • 17% of all holiday searches were made in peaks 2017 vs 15% in 2016

You should build strong brand memories prior to peak season:

  • 59% of UK consumers remembered seeing travel-related ads during the purchase journey.

  • 54% of consumers recall an ad they saw at the beginning of their journey, whereas only 18% recall seeing one saw just before making their booking

  • 20% of conversions attributed to January on last-click actually originate from December!

Mobile is important 

  • 51% of holiday search queries are on a mobile – and queries in mobile continue to grow


Make the most out of these trends with Google

As the world’s largest search engine, Google has become critical to the customer journey:

  • 51% of people start planning a holiday with no destination in mind

  • 40% of travellers initiate destination research with a Google search

  • 66% of travellers turn to video when thinking about a trip

  • Every travel booking is now influenced by over 19 digital touch points

  • There are 52 Google searches over 5 months for a holiday booking

  • 41% rely on Google Maps when travelling

With that in mind, it’s useful to use the Google framework called ‘See, Think, Do, Care’ to understand how to advertise to these customers at the different stages in the buying cycle. Below, we’ve outlined the different messaging and advertising suggestions at each level.



Who: Consumers are getting inspired, exploring holidays, sharing and comparing holidays

Messaging: Build a brand memory and inspire holiday planning so they think of you when they look to buy

Targeting: You can use targeting in Google audiences such as age, gender, passions, affinity

Formats: Use advertising formats such as Display ads, YouTube for action, Social Ads

Measurement: Awareness, Ad recall and brand interest


Who: Consumers are researching in more detail, planning flights and doing comparisons 

Messaging: Reach a potential travel audience based on signals of intent

Targeting: You can use targeting in Google audiences such as custom intent, in-market and life events

Formats: Use advertising formats such as premium display placements, YouTube for Action and Search Ads

Measurement: Purchase intent, consideration, brand interest


Who: Consumers who are ready to buy their holiday easily and without hassle

Messaging: Own the moments when audiences are ready to buy and make the purchase easy

Targeting: You can use targeting in Google audiences such as keyword targeting, in-market, custom intent, customer match & remarketing

Formats: Use advertising formats such as search, remarketing and RLSA’s

Measurement: Return on ad spend, cost-per-click 


Who: Consumers have been on holiday with you and might be thinking of the next one

Messaging: Surprise and reward your loyal consumers whilst encouraging repeat purchase and recommendation to friends & family

Targeting: You can use targeting in Google audiences such as remarketing and customers 

Formats: Use advertising formats such as Gmail & RLSA

Measurement: Purchase intent, consideration and brand interest

Next steps

Want to better understand the different types of advertising and targeting you can do with Google? Get in touch today!

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