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 share ideas on how to utilize traveler personas to optimize your search keyword strategy. 

Have you ever created personas to help you better understand different types of travelers? If so, do you feel that you are extracting maximum value from these traveler personas? Personas are meant to help you refocus from what you are selling to who you are selling to. But in the travel vertical, there are as many personas as there are varieties of luggage, making it more difficult to put personas to good use.

If you’d like to learn how to better utilize traveler personas to make better marketing decisions, join us in our discussion on using personas in SEM keyword targeting. Be sure to tune into the Travel Marketeer next week, where we will talk about using personas to develop creative messaging.

Traveler marketing personas

If you stand near an airport security checkpoint observing nothing but the bags rolling by, different traveler personas will begin to emerge:

There’s the Macbook Air occupying its own bin, next to a neatly packed messenger bag-turned-briefcase, undoubtedly owned by a young business traveler making a quick one-day, round-trip marathon.

business traveler, messenger bag, travel personas, keyword research.

In the next security lane, a Minecraft backpack is buried beneath all manner of haphazardly placed jackets, with a bin of shoes in varying sizes, and a large diaper bag sprawled along the belt—sure indicators of family vacationers.


Patiently behind them wait two matching roller bags, embroidered with a last name. Perhaps they belong to retired travelers.


As a savvy marketer, you appreciate these stories. But how can you use these stories to inform marketing decisions?

Personas and search keyword targeting

What kinds of keywords would each of your personas most likely search for?

There are obvious identifying modifiers like “family travel package” or “business travel points.” There are also less obvious keyword groups, aligned with key priorities of your personas. For example, family travelers may care more about price and logistical ease, while business travelers may care more about convenience and schedule options. Expect overlap between persona groups, as discussed in Travel Marketeer: Mind Your Own Business.

Tie booking data back to search queries

Look at historical booking data, tying bookings back to the keyword or search query that drove the booking. If you can segment bookings by persona, you have a goldmine of data to inform your persona keyword targeting strategy.

Eliminate keywords misaligned with your personas

It’s also important to determine which personas you are not targeting. Perhaps you aren’t interested in bookings from the spring break crowd. Profile the types of queries exclusive to personas you don’t want to expend marketing resources to target, and don’t target those keywords. You could even add those terms as negative keywords to focus your media dollars where they count.

Test a new campaign structure

Once you’ve developed keyword lists by persona, break them into separate campaigns for experimentation. Test evergreen, traveler-agnostic messaging against persona-specific messaging. Apply campaign settings and bid multipliers according to who your audience is. For example, business travelers are more likely to use a mobile device throughout the booking process. Family travelers might be more likely to book during specific times of day. Review your historical booking data to inform these targeting and bid modifier decisions.

Putting it all together

Like the luggage they carry, travelers have a story to tell. The personas you develop are the prologue. The rest of the story—at least as far as marketers are concerned—must be developed through data, appropriate targeting, messaging, and experimentation.

Stay tuned for next week’s Travel Marketeer, where we will discuss using personas to inform your creative and messaging.


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.