PPC for Travel Industry – Digital Marketing Tactics for Travel in 2018

PPC for Travel Industry – Digital Marketing Tactics for Travel in 2018

PPC for the travel industry is important to drive more guests to use your services and to visit your destinations. Go beyond researching keywords for travel and tourism with specific tactics to capture more foot traffic, box out your competitors and successfully target more travelers in the new year.

Pay-per-click (PPC) for the travel industry comes down to how efficiently you can deploy your budget to bring in more high-quality leads. These leads, of course, tend to be travelers who will hopefully go on to book flights on your airline, stay in your hotel, rent your cars or visit your destination. And if you are working in travel, the quality of your online presence is a major contributing factor to your company’s profitability. Of course, organic factors (SEO, local search listings and online reviews) are important, but for now, we’ll discuss some paid search engine marketing (SEM) techniques that travel businesses like yours can use to bring more customers to your doorstep.

Tight Radius Targeting

For restaurants and lesser-known tourist attractions, the closer customers already are to your location, the higher the likelihood of attracting them to visit. AdWords for the travel industry is an important tool, since it gives you the ability to use your list of keywords for travel and tourism to target any searchers within a radius as small as one kilometer (0.62 miles) from your business’ physical presence. With this knowledge, there are several tactics you can employ to drive more foot traffic to your location(s):

  • Generic keyword search campaign – Create a search campaign focused on generic yet relevant keywords for travel and tourism (e.g. “restaurant”, “food near me”), targeting a tight radius around your business. To incentivize conversions, consider offers for prospective customers to taking advantage of, such as a price discount on purchase or for mentioning a particular coupon code.
  • Google Display Network (GDN) – Create a GDN campaign targeting a particular interest relevant to your business, such as “Foodies” for your gourmet restaurant. While GDN campaigns can’t necessarily tap into the higher-intent audience that search campaigns tend to reach, the flip side is that you can generate a ton of impression volume very cheaply. Pick the right interest targets and you can do quite well.
  • Facebook Radius Targeting – Facebook actually offers a similar minimum radius for targeting to AdWords: one mile (1.6 km). Facebook Ads also tend to be more top-funnel and, like GDN ads, are less likely to reach the high-intent audiences that AdWords for the travel industry does. However, the social platform does offer a much richer ad experience, and significantly more-precise segmentation of your target audience. Example: Running a museum? Facebook lets you target potential customers who have expressed an interest in art.

Bid On Your Brand Name

When prospective customers search for the name of your business in Google, they’re likely to see the following:

  • Your Corporate Website (with whatever Meta Description that Google decides to show)
  • Your Google Knowledge Graph Listing
  • Your listing on aggregator websites like Yelp

You can control some elements of what those listings show in Google. However, you can also create very low-budget Google AdWords Campaigns in order to bid on variants of your brand name.

In your AdWords listing, you can not only offer your prospective visitors a relevant call-to-action, but you can also add:

  • Sitelinks to different sections of your website, such as the Make Reservations page, a Travel Planning page or any promotional/discount landing pages your company happens to be running
  • Review extensions (which can pull in favorable feedback from third party websites)
  • Callout extensions (which let you add bite-size snippets of descriptive text to highlight specific aspects or benefits of your business)

Furthermore, your paid ad will be grabbing the top spot in the main Google Column, pushing the other listings down the page. That’s a ton of real estate that you’re purchasing for very cheap, especially on mobile.

Facebook Lookalike Targeting

Many businesses would like to affordably reach travelers before they set out on their journey to that particular location. If you’ve been collecting customer email addresses, Facebook’s lookalike targeting is a perfect way to expand your marketing reach cheaply (and this can be done with as few as 100 confirmed emails).

In order to set this up, you need to upload your email address list to Facebook. You then need to create a lookalike audience targeting your particular country. Advertisers who are new to Facebook Ads may wish to stick to a 1% lookalike audience – the most relevant list for your business. This should give you more than enough prospects to adequately target for your advertisement. You can also build an effective lookalike audience based on people who have liked your Facebook page.

Facebook offers many different types of ads. To specifically target travelers before they head out, we recommend using post engagement ads, which are much more affordable than other types of engagement-focused ads that focus on informing customers while keeping them on Facebook. Hopefully, you’ve already been updating your Facebook Page on a regular basis with news and information about your business. To use this ad type, you can start by creating a Facebook Post focusing on people visiting from out of town. Then, create your Page Post Engagement ad targeting customers who are at least 100 miles away from your location. If you have a niche business, you might also consider layering interest targeting to further focus your audience.


In closing, despite travel being a very competitive and expensive vertical for paid search, you can still use specific ad types and tactics on a budget to drive more interest and traffic. Given that online travel as a business is expected to grow 30% this year, there are real opportunities for growth out there for savvy and ambitious advertisers.

Andrew Park is a content marketing manager at QuanticMind. A UC Berkeley graduate and lifelong Bay Area resident, Andrew has done tours of duty in editorial, PR and marketing, and now works with the QuanticMind team to communicate the importance of data science and machine learning in digital advertising.

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