Travel companies have been urged to stop using search engines as a distribution channel following figures that show consumers primarily view them as research tools.
Yahoo! Search Marketing commissioned a UK survey, which has yet to be published, on what people use search engines for.
Development director Nick Jones said 70% of people surveyed see search engines as research channels, compared to only 40% who see it as most relevant when booking a holiday.
However, travel advertisers tend to focus their search engine pay per click spend on detailed search terms that have higher conversion rates ahead of the “long-tail” generic search terms such as holiday or cruise.
Jones told delegates at the Toward Europe seminar on online marketing that the price of generic search terms such as “cheap flights” have more than halved in the last couple of years. “The term ‘cheap flights’ would have cost £1, now it’s rarely above 40p,” he said.
“Unless you are British Airways or another well-known brand, it’s harder to pick up the sale if you are not present at the research stage.” Hotels.com marketing director Patrik Oqvist said companies should view search engines as a supermarket shelf where they can promote their brands.