Staycation trend leads growth within the online travel & tourism market

The latest findings from our Online Travel & Tourism insights report, which has been making headlines, reveals how the top 100 brands are performing in online search.

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At last month’s Travolution Summit, held in London, our Chief Commercial Officer, Glen Conybeare, took to the stage and presented the findings from our latest ‘Online Travel & Tourism’ market intelligence report, with the presentation creating a lot of interest.

One of the key highlights to come out of the report, was the revelation that only 13 keywords account for 50% of the search volume, and that 46% of the top keyword searches contained the word ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’.

The insights report,  which was recently featured on CNN, Travolution and Econsultancy, looked at  the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC), and social media strategies for 100 of the industry’s leading travel and tourism brands and identified what these brands were doing to achieve market share. The research, which was undertaken between January 2012 and September 2012, looked at the top 200 keywords that were driving online consumer searches within the industry.

The research also highlighted that domestic ‘Staycations’ were leading the growth within the travel and tourism sector, and further revealed the growing trend of customers who were switching to domestic travel as a more cost effective alternative. The growth in Staycations has been further boosted by the recession, which has been putting mounting pressure on many household budgets.

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Of the total number of holidays taken in 2012, over 60% were vacations within the UK.  Our analysis also uncovered that the key growth markets were cottage holidays, coach holidays as well as short and city breaks, while those customers who were looking to go on holidays abroad were  now seeking better value through cheap, discounted, last minute or all-inclusive deals.

However, whilst there has been strong growth within the domestic travel market, directly as a result of ‘Staycations’, many questions remain on whether this trend can be sustained, as poor weather, rising petrol prices and the euro crisis may start to see a resurgence in the number of overseas holidays.

Key Findings

Staycation trend leads growth within the online travel and tourism market:

The ‘Staycation’ trend which has become a key feature within the UK travel and tourism landscape, has fuelled the growth of search impression volume in key markets such as cottage holidays, coach holidays as well as short and city breaks.

The generic markets (holidays, flights and hotels) dominate online travel and tourism searches:

With over 76.58% of all search impression volume coming from the holidays, flights and hotels keyword markets, having high levels of exposure within these markets is critical to success.

TUI is the most visible brand with the generic keyword market for holidays:

TUI is dominating the top positions for the highly prized  ‘holidays’ keyword market with its Thomson brand.  When we factor in First Choice this gives the group a collective organic click share of 31.65%.

Lastminute and LateRooms dominate the hotels keyword market:

Lastminute and LateRooms have a dominant position within the ‘hotels’ keyword market with a 44% click share of the organic search rankings (organic search results are those that appear naturally in Google rather than being paid for), with 80% of the organic click share being driven by aggregators.

 ‘Cheap’ keywords drive significant exposure within the online travel and tourism sector:

The dominance of  the holidays, flights and hotels keyword markets is underpinned by high search impression volume for search phrases that focus on cheap, low cost or lastminute deals; this includes search terms such as ‘cheap flights’, ‘low cost holidays’, ‘last minute holidays’ and ‘cheap holidays’ which deliver a collective 59.25% share of all search volume across these three markets.

No single operator dominates ‘all generic search phrases’ within the  online travel and tourism sector:

With space so tight in these keyword markets, no-one single operator dominates all the top online travel and tourism generic search phrases.  The overall click share of the holiday’s market is closely contested between Thomson (18.72%) and TravelSupermarket (16.39%); Cheap Flights (27.83%) and Skyscanner (22.97) go head-to-head within the flights market, while Lastminute (21.91%) and LateRooms (21.61%) are neck and neck within the hotels keyword market.

TUI looking to become the leading brand within the all-inclusive holiday market:

In 2012, First Choice became a 100% all-inclusive brand, this change in product positioning is reflected in their online search strategy where they have seen a rise in their ranking for the high volume phrase ‘all inclusive holidays’.  This coupled with the high rankings for their sister brand Thomson is poised to make TUI a major force within this market.

Travel price aggregators dominate organic search:

Travel price aggregators are leading the organic click share index in seven out of the top ten travel and tourism sub vertical markets, including the high volume keyword markets: flights and hotels as well as the product sub-verticals such as coach holidays, short and city breaks, villa holidays and coach holidays. The key brands include, LateRooms, TravelSupermarket, Icelloy and

Social media within the travel and tourism sector is vibrant:

Virgin Atlantic, Thomson and Thomas Cook are the leading three brands which have managed to successfully achieve a robust balance between social media volume (Twitter followers, Facebook fans, mentions, Google+ followers, YouTube channel views and mentions) and the quality of engagement with their audience.

Social media is rapidly becoming a key component of the digital strategies that are being adopted by many of the travel and tourism operators; brands such as Thomson, Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic are using social media to great effect by engaging customers through photo and video sharing, competitions, discounts, deals and offers, vouchers and loyalty rewards, holidays reviews, travel tips and guides, trivia, destination advice as well as customer support.

Travel brands use competitions to engage their customer base:

Competitions are the most prevalent form of content engagement tactic and account for 32% of all social media discussions, with Brands like Thomas Cook and Thomson being the most prolific users who are making extensive use of this tactic.  Both brands utilise Facebook and Twitter extensively to offer their audience either free or discounted holidays via competitions or prize draws.  Of particular note is Thomson, whose engagement tactic involves the visitors to submitting a “creative” holiday photograph to their Facebook page in order to win a holiday. This method ensures that the campaign is two way and avoids postings that are stale and repetitive.

If you would like a free copy of the report,  please email or give us a call on 0113 391 2929.

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