How People Use Search to Plan Vacations

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A recent study from Google titled “What people did for summer vacation — and how they used search to do it” provides quite a bit of insight into how to optimize your website and create content to attract more potential guests. Search is quickly becoming the go-to resource travelers use to discover places to go, things to do, restaurants to try, events to attend, and so much more. Here is how innkeepers can harness the incredible power of search to attract stressed outs travelers to their property and drive more direct bookings.

Google: The New Travel Agent

People are turning to Google for answers to all of their most pressing travel needs. Just think about how often you consult search engines for advice, especially while on the road. I recently returned from a whirlwind trip around Mexico and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I turned to Google for things like “the best restaurants in Oaxaca,” “events in Puerto Vallarta,” or “how to get to the Monte Alban ruins.” Google was quite literally my savior when I needed advice or recommendations in a pinch.

Clearly, people are relying heavily on search for information on where to go, how to get there, and what to do, see, and eat once they are there. Search engines are pretty much the travel agent of the 21st century. According to a recent study by Google:

  • In the past two years, there has been a 6X increase in mobile searches for “things to do/activities” plus “near me.” That might include “things to do near me today,” “kids activities near me,” or “things to do near me this weekend.”
  • There has also been an 85% increase in “best things to do” searches, such as “best things to do in Portland, “best things to do in Burlington,” or in my most recent case, “best things to do in Mexico City”.
  • Additionally, mobile searches for “events/attractions” plus “near me” have grown over 500% as people look for local concerts, movies, theater performances, gallery events, tourist attractions, and other activities happening while they are at your destination.
  • Also on mobile, there has been a 100% increase in search items related to “day trips,” “weekend trip,” or “weekend trip packing list.”
  • Finally, Mobile searches that include “things to do” plus “tonight” grew over 100% in the last two years.

Remember, thanks to Google’s algorithm, when people type “near me,” it automatically brings up responses in your destination. That means your website, through your blog and Things to Do page, needs to serve as a helpful resource on all of the above. Your website should be all about optimizing for these highly valuable keywords for your location. How to do that? Keep reading.

Remember Your Ideal Guest

As we’ve said before, an all important part of improving your marketing efforts is taking the time to define your ideal guest. To attract more guests to your property, you have to understand what kind of guests you want and what kind of guests you are already attracting. The stats we listed above reveal the incredible importance of knowing your ideal guest so you can create quality content based on the things they are searching for. Take a moment to think about demographics like their:

 

  • Budget
  • Age Range (i.e. families, retirees)
  • Where they are traveling from
  • What they are traveling for (i.e. Business, leisure, the outdoors, your food scene, and so on)
  • Travel needs and turn-offs
  • Research methods

 

Once you know these, you can target your web content and keywords to attract these target demographics. For more information on defining your ideal guest, check out our blog post and download our handy guest persona template.

 

Optimize For Your Location

As we’ve said time and time again, your marketing needs to showcase your destination, not just your property. Make sure you market your property not just as a hotel or bed & breakfast but as an experience. Your website and blog should help people find the right things to do in your destination in a timely and convenient fashion. Ensure your website shows up on Google by optimizing for the following keywords for your destination:

 

  • Things to do
  • Activities
  • Best places to eat
  • Events
  • How to get around
  • Day Trips


You can do this by maintaining a blog where you are regularly writing about the best restaurants, festivals, outdoor activities, spas, and general activities in your area. It is also important to spruce up your Things to Do page so it serves as a helpful resource for travelers both in the planning stages of their travel customer journey as well as when they are on the ground in your destination looking for advice and things to do.

Attract Your Ideal Guests With the Content They Need

For example, if your property/destination is a popular spot for family getaways,you need to be optimizing content for that demographic. Mobile searches for “kids/family” plus “near me” grew over 390% during the last two years. That’s huge. Potential keywords could include things like “family fun,” “kids activities,” and “family friendly.” That means many searchers are looking for family friendly getaways and it is your job to appeal to them. Create content that appeals to them (such as a section of your Things to Do page called “Things to Do With Kids”) or write a blog post about the best kids activities in your destination. Considering family trips often prove to be especially stressful for parents, giving them the information and recommendations they desperately need will go a long way.

 

The above example simply reinforces an all-important point: know who your ideal guest is and create and optimize content based on their needs. It can be the same with any demographic: budget backpackers, retired couples, business travelers, and so on.

Odysys customer Pine Ridge Inn has written an entire blog post about family fun in Bend, Oregon.

Get Mobile Friendly

As you might have noticed, many of the stats we’ve listed in this post relate to mobile searches. Your website and blog absolutely have to be mobile friendly in order for your post to be included in mobile search results. Click here to check that your website is mobile friendly and for more information, read our blog post on Google’s new mobile first indexing. 

Download our Direct Bookings Checklist for 51 easy ways to boost your direct bookings today.

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