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Facebook Advertising for Travel Marketers

Facebook has emerged as a viable channel for travel companies looking to drive website referrals and sales. As Facebook usage continues surge, marketers have a huge opportunity to influence travel purchase decisions. The social network’s massive amount of user data makes it an incredibly powerful performance based channel through which travel advertisers can run highly targeted, cost effective campaigns.

Facebook differs from search advertising in that the user often doesn’t explicitly state their intent to travel. Advertisers must not only identify the individual’s travel intent, but also serve the ad at the correct time and place to guide them through the marketing funnel.

There are many ways for travel marketers to succeed on Facebook, and our extensive work with many of the industry’s largest online travel agencies (OTAs) has taught us a bit about what works! Here are three tips to achieving success for your travel campaigns on Facebook.

1. Utilize “intent” Custom Audiences.

Search marketers have the benefit of individuals “telling” the marketer exactly what they’re looking for. An individual looking for a hotel in Denver might search, “Denver hotels,” making it very easy for the marketer to serve an ad that the individual will find useful. On Facebook, that intent must be inferred, or the user must be “known” in some sense by the advertiser.

One approach to inferring intent is through the use of first-party website data. Many large OTAs utilize the on-site search and browsing data to build Custom Audiences and connect with their users on a more relevant level. The same user that had searched Denver hotels via a search engine may have ended up browsing a number of hotels in Denver on site, and could potentially be placed in a Custom Audience and shown ad creative and deals related to vacationing in Colorado.

2. State a clear value proposition.

Once you have identified a possible travel customer, it’s time to demonstrate value and create a sense of urgency for the individual to take a particular action:

  • Call out specific deals right on the ad creative (“Save $138 on Denver hotels!”)
  • Include time-bound deals (“This weekend only!”)
  • Feature a strong CTA (“Book now!”)

3. Provide a consistent experience.

When a user clicks an ad and lands on your site, the ad experience is over, right? Wrong. The experience from ad to site is crucial to effectively driving conversions. Every ad/landing page combination should be thought of as an “ad experience” package. A user that has been correctly identified as a Denver traveler, is shown and clicks on a Denver hotel advertisement, and then is dropped onto a search page rather than a landing page for Denver is less likely to convert than if the experience had remained consistent throughout the process.

It’s no secret that the travel industry will be a key focus for Facebook in 2014. The social network is working to improve their ad targeting so travel companies can drill down to specific segments of travel intenders, a predictive algorithm that can determine consumers likely to be in the market to book their holiday soon and be more likely to interact with ads.

The key factors to making your Facebook ad campaigns work are linking your CRM database with Facebook’s own user data through Custom Audiences, delivering a strong call-to-action and providing a consistent experience so people are more likely to interact with your ads and book their trip. For more on how to manage your Facebook travel marketing campaigns contact us.

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