A common scenario: you’re in the office, you look out of the window at the terrible weather and you think: “if only I were somewhere else – somewhere hot with beautiful views.” Perhaps you go home and start browsing; one week later you may have booked a trip to the Maldives.
Such thoughts are commonplace. And these initial daydreams that translate into online interactions – such as browsing through travel blogs, liking Instagram images – have been given a name by Google. Dubbed ‘I-want-to-get-away’ moments, these are actions that spur searchers into booking a holiday. Google describes them like this: “People are at the early stages of thinking about their next trip. They’re exploring destination options and dreaming about what their next getaway could look like.”
‘I-want-to-get-away’ moments are an important part in the journey as consumers aren’t yet brand-committed. This is the perfect time to promote the benefits of your destination/hotel/airline/agency, as research shows that 78 percent of leisure travellers haven’t decided which airline they’ll travel with yet and 82 percent are still open-minded as to which accommodation provider they’ll book with. Often travellers won’t even have chosen a destination, so this is a prime opportunity to make an impression before the competition kicks in.
Start with social media
Brands can initially use social media networks to bring out the travel bug in people, to capture their attention, providing strong content to inspire them to take action.
Instagram is a useful platform at this stage. Stunning images and videos of beaches, waterfalls and hotels can actively bring out users’ desire to travel, especially on mobile, as two thirds of top travel videos are viewed on mobile devices. Travel influencers are increasingly included in brands’ marketing plans. Their large followings ensure they play an important role when it comes to persuading potential travellers to take the first step.
Success is linked to choosing the right platform. Will you go for Instagram, Snapchat or a timely-placed Facebook ad? YouTube is also a feasible option, with its city guides, mini-documentaries and content-creating opportunities. The platform you choose will depend on what kind of service you provide, so be aware of where your target customers come from, or they may never find you.
By the time people reach Google, they’re actively looking for destinations, beyond just liking, commenting or sharing a post. They may still be unsure as to where they want to go, they certainly aren’t brand loyal; but they’re semi-committed to booking. At this stage, you’ll likely see users perusing Destinations – the Travel Guide tab is particularly popular. They’ll be exploring points of interest to understand what to expect and to get an idea of the cost and feel of a trip.
When using Google Ads, it’s important to remember that many of these searchers don’t yet know where to go, so you should focus on the broader appeal of travel. Your message could revolve around concepts such as ‘unique travel experiences’ ‘escape abroad’ etc. At this stage, people will be swayed by competitive prices and special offers. When people start to narrow down their options, you can tailor your messaging to the relevant destination.
Other pivotal moments in the customer journey
‘I-want-to-get-away’ moments are just one part of a series highlighted in Google’s Travel Micro-Moments Guide, released last summer to show how marketers can be there and be useful for travellers in the digital space. Other important moments include ‘Time-to-make-a-plan’ moments: the planning process that happens after a destination is included in a search, and how travel marketers can promote their brands during this crucial time.
‘Let’s-book-it’ moments occur after travellers have done their research, when people are ready to purchase. Smartphones are important at this stage – data shows that 50 percent of Google Hotel Ad referrals are coming from smartphones.
‘Can’t-wait-to-explore’ moments are when travellers begin to anticipate their trip and even include when they’re at their destination. What’s vital to remember is that a secured booking isn’t the end of the process: providing the right information is a way to build on customer relationships and increase loyalty among travellers. After all, some 85 percent of leisure travellers decide on activities only after having arrived at the destination! Smartphones have truly changed the game.
‘I-want-to-get-away’ moments are just the beginning. When people get the travel itch, you can utilise these micro-moments to get a major advantage over other brands. However, the content has to be relevant and you’ll need to keep nurturing these leads further along the customer journey, providing the kind of content that will build brand loyalty.