Like it or not, with the night’s drawing in and temperatures dropping, it’s impossible to deny that summer is over and the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun.

For the travel sector the festive season is a busy time of year as holiday makers look to escape to warmer climates, plan their getaways for the year ahead and travel to visit friends and relatives over the holiday period.

With competition for bookings fierce, travel companies can really benefit from optimising pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns for the festive season, and doing so as early as possible in order to stand out from the crowd.

Here are 6 PPC tips for travel companies in the lead ip to Christmas:

1. Consider Search Behaviour

Considering the travel market as a whole is vital when planning effective Christmas PPC advertising campaigns.  It is important to understand which areas are going to do well over the Christmas period – have certain destinations gained popularity or fallen out of favour? Are there other circumstances that will affect travel to a certain country or region, such as a national disaster or political instability?  You should take into account the general trends in search behaviour for the time of year, based on previous years’ data, as well as the current travel trends.

2. Research the Competition

Competitor research is an integral part of the planning of Christmas campaigns. This can be approached in three stages. Begin by looking at the copy your competitors are using in their PPC ads. For example, what calls to action and site links are your competitors utilising within their adverts?

From this analysis, comparisons can be drawn between what your competitors are doing and how you can do it better.  You should create copy that you feel can compete with what’s already there, but that also fits with your brand identity.

Next, carry out research into the keywords and products that competitors are targeting with PPC. You can do this using Google Adwords tools, as well as by looking at the search results themselves.

Finally, compare the landing pages your competitors are using for their PPC campaigns. If there are similarities between the landing pages used; is this something that you want to replicate? Or have certain elements been missed that could be integrated into your own campaign?

3. Budget wisely

When budgeting for Christmas PPC campaigns, it’s imperative that you make sure that you have enough media spend, and also that there is availability in your budget to meet the demand.  After all, the last thing you want to do is run out of spend during a high booking period.

This budget should be based upon those campaigns that work well during Christmas time, and the final financial decision should be fuelled by your research into search behaviour and competition. It is important to be aware of the general travel trends and to use this knowledge to make sure that there is enough budget available in case of a high volume of bookings.

4. Plan Pre- & Post-Christmas PPC Campaigns

In the lead up to Christmas, your target market will differ greatly to your post-Christmas audience, and so your campaigns should differ accordingly.

Before Christmas, potential customers might be searching for last-minute getaways for over the Christmas period, winter sun holidays or ski-resorts, for example. Data from your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts will determine the products and keywords that have been successful over the season in previous years, and will help to identify the types of campaigns to push in the run up to Christmas.

Consider offering incentives like gift cards or discount vouchers to encourage last-minute bookings over this period, and create targeted Christmas landing pages that mention the promotion or deal that you are running in your holiday ads.

In terms of post-Christmas, the focus should be on targeting those people that you reached out to with incentives and deals before Christmas. You should follow up not only with PPC but also with email marketing and direct campaigns.

After Christmas it is also important to alter the advertisements and campaigns to reflect ‘last-minute stock’ to target those people that were unable to travel at Christmas time but are looking to get away in the New Year.

5. Utilise Site Links and Call Extensions

Site links are a cost-effective way to push customers down the booking funnel, and if your objective is to drive conversions then site links are a great way to do this. It is now possible to provide links within your PPC adverts to drive potential customers to certain landing pages on your website in order to encourage bookings. This might include linking to clearance sales, particular sign-up pages, or special offers.

Utilising call extensions is also something to consider. Featuring a call extension on your adverts could encourage last-minute sales, as people can then telephone you directly from that PPC campaign to making booking easier.

6. Measure Accurately

Has your campaign achieved the KPIs that you set out beforehand?  At the end of the campaign, measure your campaign effectiveness by looking at the cost-per-acquisitions (CPAs) and cost-per-clicks (CPC). Inspect the quality of traffic that was sent to your website and determine whether it resulted in any alternative bookings.

You should also consider bounce rates, the pages visited and the impact of paid advertising on other channels, such as organic, through multi-channel attribution

Measuring your campaign effectiveness correctly will enable you to analyse what can be taken away from this campaign to be capitalised on next year.

4Ps isn’t just another PPC management agency. To discuss how paid search strategies are evolving alongside new developments in ad technology and tracking, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and user behaviour across all inbound channels.