Travel Marketers Plan Increase in SEO Spending

November 28, 2011

frommers-planned-2012-digital-content-spending-nov11.gifSEO is the top priority for travel companies’ 2012 digital content plans, with 53% indicating they will be increasing their budgets in this area, according to [download page] a November 2011 report from Frommer’s Unlimited in conjunction with Tnooz. Data from the “2011 Digital Marketing and Content Survey” indicates that custom content development closely follows, with 52% reporting a planned increase, while a significant proportion also expect to increase their destination info content (47%), user generated content (47%), video (46%), and blog (43%) budgets.

Overall, 83% of travel companies surveyed indicate that they will increase their digital content budgets in 2012, up from 70% in 2010 and 66% in 2009. This is consistent with a general trend towards digital marketing: 78% plan to grow their digital marketing budget next year, compared to just 3% who expect it to decrease.

Conversions Top Content Priority

Increasing conversions is the top priority for roughly one-third of travel professionals when adding website content, ahead of attracting search traffic (27%), the top priority last year. Building brand (16%) rounded out the top 3 priorities for the second year running, while building community and improving service and loyalty were top priorities to only 1 in 10.

Timeliness, Consistency Biggest Challenges

frommers-travel-digital-content-challenges.jpgFor the 4th year in a row, keeping content up to date and accurate was the most common content challenge reported, although it experienced a slight decrease from 65% of respondents last year to 62% this year. The need to create content with a consistent tone of voice across brand was the second-most challenging issue, indicated by 51% of respondents, up from 47% in 2010. 44% identified the development of a mobile strategy as a content challenge, while roughly one-third said launching multi-lingual sites was an issue.

Languages Becoming Important

According to the report, 49% of respondents operate a site in 1 language, while 33% operate a site in 2 to 5 languages. For 2012, another 26% plan to be in the 2 to 5 language category and 17% plan to have localized websites in over 5 languages. According to Frommer’s, this indicates the importance many companies are placing on reaching a global customer, and ties into the spending focus seen on translations, with almost three-quarters of respondents planning to either increase (33%) or keep (41%) their translation budgets.

Other Findings

  • 78% of travel companies expect to increase their digital marketing budgets in 2012, up from 70% in 2010 and 54% in 2009. Social media marketing (65%) and content (55%) were at the top of the list for digital marketing budget increases, while over half of the respondents also indicated increases for their mobile apps/development (54%) and natural SEO (52%). Those increasing their investments in social media marketing should pay attention to optimizing their Facebook strategies: despite the best efforts of most travel brands to harness Facebook’s reach to drive interest and bookings, only 0.3% of people leaving the social networking giant subsequently reach a travel site, according to October analysis from Compete. With just 8.3 million of the total Facebook referrals, estimated by Compete to be 3.4 billion, travel lags far behind the leading categories and is only ahead of automotive (0.1%).
  • 85% of respondents reported a cost per visitor of under US$5, identical to the proportion last year. Within that group, however, the breakdown has shifted, with more respondents this year reporting a cost per visitor of US$1-$5 (48% vs. 38%).
  • By the end of 2012, nearly 80% of companies plan to have iPhone apps and 75% are aiming to have an iPad app.

About the Data: There were 350 respondents to the Frommer’s survey across a wide range of sectors within travel, including media/publishing, hotels and hospitality, travel agencies, operators and consolidators, airlines, tourist offices, car rental, rail, and cruise. The respondents represented all global regions: 46% were from North America; 36% were from Europe; 11% from Asia/South Pacific; 4% from Middle East/Africa; and 3% from South America.

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