August 28, 2022
How Luxury Travel can Bounce Back Using SEO
The Covid-19 pandemic hit the travel industry hard; airlines, hotels, restaurants, and leisure were among the most impacted sectors. Many businesses didn’t survive the pandemic, while for others it’s no exaggeration to say that the future looked bleak.
More than two years on from the initial lockdowns, the travel industry is recovering, but it’s not yet back to its pre-pandemic glory. In the first quarter of 2022, international arrivals increased 182% from the previous year but this still only equated to 61% of 2019 levels. McKinsey and Co predict that air traffic won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
The travel industry has taken a beating, but now’s the time to come back stronger than before. How can luxury travel brands do this? Three letters: SEO. With search being the most used touchpoint in the customer journey for tourism and travel, search engine optimisation is an essential strategy for any travel brand to bounce back from the pandemic. Here’s how you can do it.
Optimise for revenge travellers
‘Revenge travel’ describes the idea that people are taking revenge against the pandemic which prevented them from having the holidays they wanted. It means making the most of travel now that it’s possible. It also means making up for lost time with bigger and better holidays than before.
Search data back this up; while staycations, walking, and camping holidays were searched for in high volumes during the pandemic, people are now thinking bigger when it comes to vacations. Searches with the term ‘package including flights’ increased by over 1100% in South Africa, while searches for ‘all-inclusive travel’ have gone up in Spain, France, Germany and Denmark.
More than half of US prospective travellers want to go to places they have never been to before, and they are willing to spend more money on it. One survey earlier this year found that nearly 40% of Americans are willing to spend more money on things like dining out and trips this summer to make up for the limitations of the last two years.
How does this relate to SEO? With this trend of travelling to make up for lost time expected to continue, luxury travel brands can target keywords used by potential customers looking for those once-in-a-lifetime holiday experiences. Optimising your content towards search queries that contain keywords such as ‘all-inclusive’, ‘luxury’, ‘travel package’ ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ and ‘bucket list travel’ can help you get your website in front of revenge travellers who are looking for holidays that are bigger and better than ever.
Encourage spontaneity with local and mobile SEO
Research has found that once travellers arrive at their destinations, they’re keener than ever to spend money on experiences and souvenirs. In fact, global tourist spending on experiences such as restaurants and concerts is now 34% higher than in 2019.
Travellers want to enjoy their holidays to the full after years of pandemic restrictions and uncertainty. They’re willing to make quick decisions and spend more money to do so, especially for amazing, luxurious, or once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as an authentic safari tour or a sightseeing flight in a private helicopter.
In this context, local and mobile SEO is more important than ever for luxury travel brands. This is because 48% of experience bookings are made once the traveller has arrived at their destination. In the lead-up to a trip, travellers will search for activities on both mobile and desktop but once they arrive the majority of these searches occur on mobile. Let’s take a closer look at how mobile and local SEO can work for your luxury travel brand.
Mobile SEO is the practice of optimising the website’s technical features for mobile browsing, ensuring that the site is as usable and attractive on your phone or tablet screen as it is on your laptop. For best mobile usability, here are a few SEO best practices:
Improve page speed: mobile users don’t want to wait for ages for your pages to load on their phones – if it takes more than a few seconds, they’ll leave your site and be less likely to revisit in the future.
Prioritise internal linking: it’s important that users can easily navigate your site, so ensure that every page on your site (especially conversion pages) is easy to access in just a few clicks.
Be concise: phone and tablet screens are smaller than desktops, so you need to be careful to avoid walls of text or huge images that take up the whole screen.
Local SEO focuses on optimising local searches. For example, once travellers have arrived at their destination, they might make searches such as ‘best restaurants near me or ‘wine tasting near me’. Local SEO improves your brand’s visibility in these searches and increases your organic traffic from people searching for the experiences you offer.
Local SEO tips include:
Optimise your Google Business profile: keeping your hours up-to-date and responding to customer reviews leads to Google rewarding your business with higher rankings and a feature in the local business snippets.
Create local content: adding locally-relevant content to your website makes it more likely you will appear in local searches.
Gain local backlinks: getting linked to by local media outlets or other local businesses also signals to Google that your local business is relevant and useful to searchers.
By putting additional effort into local and mobile SEO, your brand can ensure that those experience-seeking high-value customers find your website organically during their travels.
Spend your marketing budget where it counts
As a result of the financial losses of the past two years, many luxury travel brands are dealing with limited budgets. It has been predicted that the travel industry will not return to pre-pandemic advertising spending levels until 2023. Therefore, it’s important that all marketing efforts are cost-effective during this time.
SEO has a great ROI. With an average conversion rate of 8.5% – higher than email marketing, paid search or paid social media advertising – organic search is one of the best channels for conversions. Moreover, your efforts benefit your brand in the long term with higher search engine rankings and increased traffic, even if you stop actively practising SEO.
While it may be tempting to invest in PPC to see immediate results, luxury travel brands need to be cautious about their use of paid search advertising. PPC can be effective in the short term but once your budget is used up your website is back to square one. SEO, on the other hand, continues to benefit your website over time – even if you’re not actively spending money on it. In a few months when your organic traffic and conversion rates start growing exponentially, you’ll be glad you invested in SEO today.
According to Google’s consumer insights, search interest for travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels across most European, Middle Eastern, and African countries, even though actual travel numbers still lag behind. Now is the perfect time to revamp your SEO strategy for a new post-pandemic world.
It’s important to remember that SEO can make or break a brand. A good SEO strategy can multiply your organic traffic and boost your sales figures; bad SEO can result in wasted time and money or, even worse, Google penalising your pages for their poor performance.
Want to make SEO work for you? Viaduct Generation can help. We’re an expert SEO agency based in London, UK, working with brands around the world to create winning SEO strategies. For no-strings-attached SEO advice, book your free website audit today.