Welcome to the Travel Marketeer, a weekly series where we examine data, insights and ideas around marketing, creative testing, and ways travel brands can improve the online customer experience. In this week’s installment we explore why travel brands should ignore some supposed “creative best practices.”


Retail vs. Travel Creative Best Practices

What does purchasing a suitcase online and booking a plane ticket have in common? From a search marketer’s perspective, the main difference is the average order value. But otherwise, running a retail or travel SEM campaign requires approximately the same set of processes and optimization tactics. Not surprisingly, SEM practitioners often apply the same creative best practices to retail as travel campaigns. But Boost’s ad creative optimization data shows that this may not be a good idea.


Suitcases and travel bookings are travel-related purchases. But the customer’s journey to making these buying decisions are very different. As such, applying retail ad creative best practices to your travel SEM campaign can result in poor performance. Here’s why:


From the customer’s perspective, a suitcase is something one orders expecting to receive, touch and smell it within a two day free shipping window. A plane ride (for which the suitcase will be used) is something one expects to experience weeks or months into the future.


The customer journey to booking travel

When using a search engine, travel customers are further away from the purchase point than retail customers. Travel customers don’t perform searches expecting to go directly to a product page where they can add items to their cart and check out: they perform searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo expecting to click an ad and perform more searches on a more specialized travel search engine or travel brand site.


Given this, it makes sense that in retail, “buy now” and “shop today” messaging would resonate: that’s what shoppers are planning to do anyways. But the goal of travel ad creative should be to get travelers to the brand site to perform searches.


Many standard creative best practices are rooted primarily in retail data. SEM practitioners should be careful to assess whether or not these standards jive with the travel customer’s decision-making process. Applying retail creative tactics like using a strong purchase-oriented call-to-action can make travel brands seem out of touch with the customer perspective and hurt conversion rates.


Test This

Travel brands should test calls-to-action that focus on getting the customer to the brand’s site to perform searches rather than on trying to prematurely prompt a booking.


More Data For Travel Brands

For more insights on the travel ad creative data we studied to generate these insights, download the full travel white paper here!


About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale.

The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.