Stick with search during a downturn

Even though we’re waiting for the release of the last quarter’s growth figures to technically confirm it, no-one would argue that the country is in the throes of recession.

Interestingly though, travel advertisers are still enjoying recession-busting results from their search marketing campaigns….

We all know that in times of recession marketing takes the first hit, but what seems to be happening this time around is that online spend is being cut as part of wider budgeting cuts –  not as a result of poor performance, nor equally is it being saved due to stellar performance.

But travel brands cutting their online budgets are missing out on the continued growth opportunities in the sector.

If we compare Autumn 2007 with Autumn 2008, we’d expect to see a drop in sales, but our research shows that actually those travel brands spending on a par with last year are achieving on average a 30% increase in sales over this period last year.

And brands that have trimmed their digital marketing budgets are still seeing, on average, a 7% boost in like-for-like sales.

What this tells us is that the web is still a source for profitable bookings – there’s still plenty of demand for travel products sold online, even in the current climate.

And of course, the other reason for these sales lifts can be attributed to less competition from other brands who have decided to focus their budget on other channels.

So for travel brands that are advertising online, these trends provide reassurance that the digital medium is a solid platform that continues to delivering profitable sales during these turbulent times.

Brands that are able to maintain or even grow spend in these times have the potential to reap even greater returns, whilst those that don’t will have more ground to make up when they return.

Matt O’Brien is managing director of Cheeze

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