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European bookings account for more than half of all worldwide arrivals

The search for holidays has gone digital worldwide. Internet travel booking revenue has grown by more than 73% over the past 5 years and with the growing presence of online travel aggregator’s, companies must work harder than ever to compete. One way to increase brand visibility overseas is International SEO, making it a high priority for any travel business seeking to succeed online.

More and more consumers worldwide are taking their customer journey online  – from researching holiday’s right through to sharing their holiday snaps on social media. By understanding the customer journey in-market, brands can pinpoint their consumers search intent to explore new and longer keywords for multilingual search and international paid media campaigns. Booking a holiday involves a huge amount of research, from finding the right destination, picking accommodation and flights, reading reviews and finally making a booking. In TUI’s recent market overview, they acknowledged that European bookings account for more than half of all worldwide arrivals stating “the travel market continues to be driven by high growth in online bookings”.

Global search marketing in the travel industry is both competitive and complex. SEO for travel companies is inherently international as it works to promote destinations to customers globally to gain economies of scale, whilst at the same time being location based. In order to succeed globally, a travel site must invest in localised strategies and rank for location based queries and recommendations.

Improvements to your international site can improve online visibility. 

The user-journey of booking a holiday is multilingual, multi-visit and multi-site; it’s a thoroughly researched and reviewed process. This can take place across a wide range of devices, languages and locations. Understanding the user journey of an international customer and optimising a site accordingly is one of the most important contributing factors to an effective multilingual SEO strategy for a travel company. Consider what stage in your customers journey you want them to locate you. Understanding what point your web page should appear in a holiday search means you can optimise your site fully to capitalise on the right quality of traffic. One of the key aspects of a successful global SEO campaign for travel clients is acquiring the user at the optimum stage of their user journey.

Post purchase should also be a vital part of the online mix. Encourage your current customers to recommend your specific destinations by rating your holidays on review sites such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet. Make sure you respond to all social media queries. This will help increase brand loyalty and increase customer satisfaction with your target market.

It is important to consider global social media as part of a wider international search strategy. Social media is a vital element of off-site research. It’s worth remembering it’s never just Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, when it comes to targeting an international audience. Companies must remember to thoroughly research and target popular international social media sites such as Sina Weibo and Kaixin001 in China and VKontakte in Russia. Use inspirational images and videos to engage your global customers and to create a buzz on social media. To succeed in multilingual search your website must display a level of engagement and using global social media platforms are a great way of supporting this. Social media pages with lots of likes and followers are metrics that a customer will also use to determine a profile’s reputation and the worth of the information it provides. Thus, for a travel website to rank well internationally, it must engage its users both on its website and through localised social media channels.

For a travel business in 2014, simply having an online presence is no longer enough; the value of a site’s presence online needs to be constantly re-evaluated, updated and localised in order to stay relevant to its global customers.

Stop press – Oban is running a global travel event called the International Digital Forum on 18th September 2014. This unique event is designed for international brands that want to improve online performance worldwide. Book your ticket now to secure your place.