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Key travel trends advertisers should know for 2018

March 2018

More than 70% of travelers select their destination online, giving digital advertisers an opportunity to influence the decision-making process. Understanding trending destinations, shifts in the accommodations landscape, customer loyalty trends and in-destination opportunities is essential.

Travelers set sights on unconventional destinations

We researched the 25 destinations on the Bing Network with the highest year-over-year search volume growth. While Cancun and the Caribbean top the list, unconventional destinations – including India, Bangladesh, Maldives and Kenya – have become increasingly popular.

Advertisers can research their own trending keywords using the Bing Ads Keyword Planner. Airlines adding new destinations and more convenient routes to hubs could increase destination searches. Datamining hashtags on social media can help advertisers discover popular new destinations.

Openness to wider variety of lodgings

High value travelers that book private accommodations also book hotels. This openness coincides with the rise of boutique hotels, fueled by millennial travel preferences. Recently, many major brands have announced boutique branch launches.

For advertisers, travelers are more open than ever to the variety of lodging options. Search creates brand awareness on Online Travel Aggregators (OTA). Travelers exposed to brands via search ads are more likely to visit those same brands on an OTA.

Why do travelers choose to stay in hotels rather than private accommodations?
Graph showing traveler responses to the question “Why do travelers choose to stay in hotels rather than private accommodations?”

Membership does not equal loyalty

The majority of U.S. travelers belong to a loyalty program, totaling over a billion accounts. Even though that figures grows year-over-year, more than 54% of members are inactive.

We found that travelers who belong to loyalty programs comparison-shopped across multiple travel sites. Elite members are almost as likely as non-members to comparison-shop, but they are more likely to travel and engage with ads. Frequent travelers expect personalized and relevant offers in exchange for their loyalty.

Travelers who found ads helpful with trip planning by hotel loyalty status
Graph showing percentage of travelers by loyalty status who found ads helpful when planning a trip

In-destination opportunities with activities

Travel's third-largest and fastest-growing segment is activities – all of the things travelers do when they get there. In the U.S., 53% of travelers shopped for activities online during their last trip.

Activities suppliers using third-party reservation systems have grown over 400% since 2011. The biggest online travel agents have all moved into this space. Gross bookings for online activities are expected to more than double from $12 billion in 2015 to $27 billion in 2020.

Global travel market share by segment

Pie chart showing travel segment size, Airlines 40%, Hotels 33%, Activities 10%, Other 9% and Rail 8%.

Actions for advertisers

Shifts in the travel landscape are creating new opportunities for travel marketers to reach high-value, frequent travelers at every stage of their decision-making journey.

Compared to Google, the Bing Network Audience takes longer trips and spends more on travel:

airplane icon

Heavy international flier
(in the past three years)

suitcase icon

Stayed over one month on a personal international trip

money icon

$7,500 to $9,900 in
travel spending
(in the past six months)

map icon

Taken five to six
personal domestic trips
(in the past six months)

car icon

Purchased a car rental online
(in the past six months)

group of people icon

PC searchers
not found on Google

Here’s what travel advertisers can do to reach travelers:

  1. Monetize new trending destinations before your competitors with solutions like the Bing Ads Keyword Planner tool.
  2. Influence travel purchases on OTAs with search ads.
  3. Give loyalty members a reason to stay loyal by using Custom Audiences to target customers with personalized offers.
  4. Use remarketing to help travelers book activities.

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