Google and Facebook strategy for OTAs

As we all know, the tourism sector is currently highly competitive, so defining a strategy OF SEM and Facebook For OTAs is a challenge. How did we do it? We’ll tell you in this post.

The marketing of OTAs and hotels is in a phase of constant change in recent years. The continued growth of online platforms, the growing presence of mobile devices and changes in demand are transforming how accommodation is sought and reserved.

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Today we talk about the definition of the strategy of one of our largest customers, an OTA in which we started working in the summer of 2017, for which to define a strategy of SEM and Facebook was essential.

Customer Initial analysis

Our client had already created an account on Google Ads and had launched a series of Google search campaigns, but did not have a specialized team that worked them.

On the other hand Facebook Ads It is also a great platform for a customer of this type, especially with the high competition that exists in this sector today, which obliges us to be present also in this channel. The client did not have an advertising account, so we started from scratch always as a complement to the search campaigns.

With all this we started to define a strategy of SEM and Facebook for this OTA from the beginning, which we present today in the form of a guide.

Defining Google’s strategy

Phase 1. Objectives and structure of Google Ads campaigns

Our first step was to define our objectives in a clear way. The initial campaigns did not have any structure, so the objectives defined by the company could not be achieved: to increase the sales in the different digital platforms that we use.

After studying its peculiarities and conducting an analysis of the sales of the previous year, we launched a plan to restructure the entire account of Google Ads.

  • The client had already focused on niche campaigns that seemed very interesting and concentrated much of the sales, so in addition to starting with the creation of new campaigns we focus on optimizing these. We also set the goals, both on where to focus and for results. In this case we decided to set the objective to obtain a ROAS of 20, which we keep to this day.
  • We create different advertising accounts within the SAME MCC, because as we have a high volume of campaigns we differentiate them by geographic areas. This also allows us to optimize them in a very different way according to their tendencies and to continue growing at quantitative level.
  • We started with the launching of two types of “always-on” campaigns: Generic and hotel. Generics are those that lead us to search for a destination (“hotels in Madrid”), also distinct by Facilities (“3 star hotels in Madrid”); And on the other hand we have the hotel campaigns, which cover the search for a particular hotel.

Phase 2. Betting on a relevant segmentation

Within this sector the competition is very high, so you have to work in an optimal way and investigate as deeply as possible to achieve our goals.

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  • We have included very specific keywords as well as done research with the tool Keyword Planner To include those terms used by users when performing a search for Travel.
  • We work with ads 100% related to each of them, in order to gain quality and relevance and achieve the greatest visibility possible.
  • We also use All kinds of extensions, offering more detailed information about hotels, destinations, tour packages and current promotions.

With all this we have a total of 2,900 active campaigns, not only launched in Google ads, but also in Bing, increasing the scope of our ads and the odds of impacting our potential client.

Phase 3. Optimization and creation of landing pages

Once the first phases are finished and the new structure is mounted, we focus on maximizing the Conversion rate And the “re-styling” of the web.

To do this, we made a proposal to start with the creation of  Landing specific pages For each of the niches we attack, for the user to have a continuity with what he had seen in the ad and thus capture more attention and facilitate conversion.

Phase 4. Creating audience lists and announcements with IF function

When we begin to have a certain history we create different lists of audiences according to visitors:

  • Niche landings
  • Certain destinations
  • TOP Hotels
  • Blog Specific entries
  • Duration of sessions
  • Pages per session
  • Converters

Thanks to these audiences we have been able to include Ads with “IF” function In all campaigns that will display a specific message in the ad text depending on who is being shown. For example, in the case of users who have already booked, they can be shown a discount coupon on their next booking.

Phase 5. Display campaigns

In this case we have used the Display campaigns in seasons and specific festivities, always aiming at an audience of Remarketing. That is, we re-impact those users who have already searched within the range of dates of each campaign.

In addition, we have active a Smart Display campaign“Always-on” That allows us, effectively, to get reservations to our target CPA, and shows our ads in all formats through Google’s Display network.

This way we can reach our audience at any stage of the cycle: Both the users who have shown interest in a hotel or destination as well as those who are about to book.

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* Smart Display Campaign Results

Phase Six. Optimization tasks

After all these steps, the most important thing is to carry out a daily optimization work, especially in clients like this one with a volume of campaigns so high. Some of the resources we use for this are:

  • Scripts: We make use of a wide variety of scripts for our client, both of heat maps and time programming, as well as search terms, etc.
  • Automated Rules: We have also created automated rules in Google Ads to help us detect the different scenarios that are occurring and notify us by email. This tool is a must in an account with so much volume of campaigns.
  • Automatic Bidding: We also use a tool that allows us to automatically adjust the bids in a lot of Variables: CPC’s, locations, ages, sexes… And in turn generates very useful reports for both us and the same customer.
  • Device review: users increasingly trust and book more through Smartphones (42% of consumers use their mobile to seek inspiration for their next trip), while the use of the computer is maintained, especially when it comes to looking for accommodation, not to reserve it. For this reason, we have in mind an approach “Mobile-First” Increasingly accentuated and we checked the devices weekly.
  • Customizable ads: This new novelty from Google ads allows us, in the same ad, to test all the copies and descriptions that we have in operation at the individual level, so that the tool shows the most relevant version for the user. This is very useful in a client with so much volume and so many active ads.
  • Continuous creation of campaigns according to zones and temporality: We are in continuous contact with our client and its suppliers to cover more and more geographical areas and to gradually increase the number of hotels where we are already present.

Facebook Strategy for OTAs

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Visual content is becoming more effective and influences the user’s decision process, especially in the planning phase of a trip, when most users view various types of content: almost 50% visit travel websites, 30% social networks and 20% remaining displays some kind of video.

  • Remarketing Dynamics: for which we upload the catalogue of hotels and the tool is responsible for showing the user who has already seen on the web.
  • Punctual according to ÉpGoose of the Year and festivities: where we do both prospecting and remarketing.
  • Tourist Package Promotions , getaways, and even shows.
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* Results of the dynamic campaign that we are working on in a continuous way.

For all of them have been used public of all kinds:

  • Remarketing of users who have visited us but not booked.
  • Remarketing of customers who have traveled in specific periods of previous years.
  • Public similar to those users who have already searched and/or made reservations.
  • Customer databases.

In addition to the targeted campaigns, we have also tried “consideration” campaigns, in this case with target “messages”.

We launch them in order to allow users to open conversations with our client via Messenger, and they have allowed us to generate potential clients and offer assistance throughout the booking process.  

With it we obtained very good results, because we got the user to move from the consideration to the action, and from a total of 109 conversations, many of them finally became reserves.

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* Results of the Messenger campaign

We hope that these SEM and Facebook strategies for OTAs will help you from now on to get the most out of your campaigns and that you can analyze them day after day with the help of our tricks and directions.

If you want to know more tricks for Google Ads and Facebook do not hesitate to visit our Blog In the next few weeks. We’re waiting for you!

Written by

Aina García

SEM · 26 / 04 / 2019

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