Every November, consumers fire up their devices and desktops to shop online and spend billions of dollars. Last year, 64 million people shopped online and in stores during the Black Friday holiday ecommerce weekend. This year alone, eMarketer predicts that the total US retail sales will increase by 5.8% to $1.002 trillion. And, ecommerce sales, alone, in the US will increase by 16.6% during the holiday season. Being the largest online shopping season across the globe, travel and non-travel marketers have a massive opportunity to engage consumers while they are online shopping and spending.
According to Sojern’s data, consumers are also searching for and booking travel while they are online during November’s ecommerce holidays, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Mexico’s el Buen Fin. Travelers around the world begin their holiday travel searches in October. But late in October, they stop searching for travel until the November ecommerce holidays are in full swing—with a notable spike on Cyber Monday.
How Has Traveler Intent Changed this Holiday Season from 2017
Holiday Travel in the US
For the US, there is an expected 33% growth rate in holiday mobile sales—reaching $54.2B in 2018. At Sojern, we are already seeing a 5% increase for both November and December travel searches in 2018 compared to 2017. This year, departure dates that are searched and already booked peak on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Then overall US travel searches decline until Christmas when US travelers are looking to get away for short holiday breaks.
Holiday Travel in the UK
Last year alone, 49% of European internet users planned to make a purchase during Black Friday through Cyber Monday. For travel searches in 2017, we saw an unseasonal push on travel bookings over searches for Europeans. We also saw a large lead time of four months for travel bookings for couples and group travel.
This year, we see that Q4 travel searches in the UK during October, November, and December are increasing another 3% overall from 2017.
Holiday Travel in Mexico
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most critical dates for holiday ecommerce sales around the globe—except for Mexico where they have el Buen Fin. This year, el Buen Fin happens between November 16 – 19th. Last year, online retail sales in Mexico reached MXN$2.48B during el Buen Fin—a 43% YoY increase from 2016’s el Buen Fin sales. For travel searches, our data shows that in 2017 el Buen Fin was bigger for searches than bookings—leaving a huge untapped opportunity for travel advertisers.
We are already seeing an overall 2% increase in travel searches both to Mexico and from Mexico compared to 2017. One of the most interesting travel trends though comes from US travel searches to Mexico, where there is a strong 8% increase of US travel searches to Mexico compared to 2017. Marketers in Mexico have an increased opportunity to target US travelers who are looking to spend their holidays in Mexico, especially to Cancun, San Jose del Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta.
Consumers are looking for the best deals during November’s ecommerce holidays. And with travel searches increasing on a global scale, now is the time to make sure you are taking full advantage of this prime opportunity to convert searching behaviors into bookings.
4 Ways to Increase Ad Performance and Travel Bookings During the eCommerce Holiday Season
Generate Awareness Through Video
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But according to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. Just think of how much awareness you could generate with 1.8 million words!
Video consumption continues to increase—making it ideal for influencing your target audience. In 2018 alone, almost one-third of all internet users, over one billion people are on YouTube alone. For advertisers, this is great news, considering that consumers who viewed an ad on YouTube were 30% more likely to consider that brand.
Success in Action:
Sojern partnered with an American home goods retailer during last year’s November ecommerce holidays. By using engaging videos and targeting our affluent travel audience, Sojern was able to expand their addressable market and exceed their click-through rate goal of 13% for many of their key markets.
Create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) with Inspiring Offers
Did you know that half of the internet users in Europe planned their Christmas-related purchases during the 2017 ecommerce holidays? Millions of people are looking for a good opportunity to buy, book, or reserve your products—including travel and non-travel related purchases. By creating a sense of urgency or the fear of missing out (FOMO), you can develop a need for your offers and promotions that seem too good to pass up.
Success in Action:
A major APAC airline partnered with Sojern to drive website traffic and direct bookings on Black Friday. With access to an audience of millions of in-market travelers and billions of real-time search and booking intent signals, Sojern was able to reach those looking to travel on routes that this airline served. Because the ads were more targeted, the campaign achieved a CTR 43% above target, inspiring more travelers to consider this airline when planning their travel.
Another US airline achieved a CTR 8x above their target and booked hundreds of flights in a single day by targeting in-market travelers with Cyber Monday promotions on premium sites, using Sojern’s Private Marketplace (PMP) solution.
Stand Out from the Crowd This eCommerce Holiday with Targeted Messaging
When reviewing your strategic travel marketing plan for the holidays, be aware that your competition is doing the same. Your target audience is hearing and seeing deals everywhere, especially online—you need to stand out from all the digital noise. To ensure you are capturing their attention, make sure to place your ads in key locations above the fold with high-quality, eye-capturing images. Personalize your messages and creatives based on what your targeted traveler is searching for online.
That’s where Sojern partners with companies to help. Through our unique audience partnerships, we can see how and where travelers are searching, above and beyond your own website. For example, according to our latest Global Travel Insights, we know that over 56% of Latin Americans are looking to get away for a long duration trip of 12 or more days during December, regardless of the distance they need to travel, and two out of five searches are for two or more people. Travel ads in Latin America that mention group travel, especially for long duration trips would easily stand out above the noise to convert bookings.
Success in Action:
Sojern partnered with an international hospitality brand in Mexico, Canada, and the US to engage in-market travelers and drive bookings over the 2017 Black Friday weekend. Sojern was able to increase bookings 6.5x for two of their top hotel brands in the Mexican market alone.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute with Your Holiday Travel Ads
As with all online advertising, marketers need to constantly employ an incremental, test and learn approach. Even though our latest traveler insights reveal a dip in searches today, that amount will pick up dramatically in just a few weeks. Don’t wait until the busy season to revamp your strategy. Rather, experiment with different creatives and messaging to see what works, and what doesn’t—making sure to have the strongest campaign possible, ready to capture consumers while they are online spending millions of dollars during the upcoming ecommerce holidays.
Sojern’s experts are to help you create your own successful ecommerce holiday ad campaigns. Learn how to drive results in real-time today that will impact how travelers engage with your brand for their holiday booking needs. Connect with us today.