Google urges OTAs to use ‘search on steroids’ to convert returning customers

Google urges OTAs to use ‘search on steroids’ to convert returning customers

Internet giant Google has urged online travel agencies to make their marketing budgets work harder to convert returning customers.

Stephany Van Willigenburg, the company’s industry head of travel, told delegates at the Travolution Summit in London that Google’s remarketing lists for search were proving very successful across other industries.

The technology, which Van Willigenburg described as “search on steroids”, lets retailers know when a consumer who has already visited or purchased on their website has performed a search matching their chosen keywords.

Based on the profile of the consumer the retailer can decide how to react. Van Willigenburg said it was a powerful way to increase touch points with audiences.

“Three separate consumers search for Florida holidays. If you knew one was only interested in Miami, another was looking for family holidays and the third usually books golf holidays; you have the information you need to be able to react appropriately. They have a cookie because they have previously been on your checkout page. You could choose to increase your CPC (cost-per-click) or ignore them because of their behaivour. It’s search on steroids, and makes a huge difference to your ROI.”

Van Willigenburg said sending these signals was important for travel retailers as it presented them with the right customers. In addition, she said it gave consumers reassurance that they were getting relevant search results.

She then shared a case study taken from a cruise-only OTA. According to the study, the retailer has increased its CPC bids by 50%, which had driven a 145% higher click-through rate and a 250% increase on ad-spend success.

Van Willigenburg said OTAs must ask themselves a series of questions before embarking on the remarketing strategy: how are your consumers segmented? What are they worth? Who are the regular shoppers? And why do they come back?


Answering these questions, she said, will help a business determine whether or not it wants to increase CPCs on some customers or ignore others they don’t believe will convert into sales.


Earlier in the day travel technology consultant Jon Pickles urged OTAs to embrace Google. “It’s big an it’s powerful and it’s not going anywhere. You want to bring traffic to your website, so you have to work with Google for the benefit of your business”.

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