The travel vertical has always been a competitive space, with airlines and aggregators trying to keep up with shifts in consumer demand while constantly innovating to provide comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable experiences. Technology has played a very important role in the way that travelers connect with airlines to research and purchase their tickets.

Search has always been the best source to capture intent, and as such, it has become a key avenue for travel advertisers to reach consumers while they are researching airline information and booking flights. In fact, as shown in our vertical infographic, Kenshoo Industry Spotlight: Air Travel , search engines are the #1 source for leisure travelers when planning and booking travel arrangements.

Consumers are also extending their airline and flight research across multiple devices. As shown below, while the majority of travelers use computers to book their travel, almost 1 out of 4 leisure consumers have booked via tablets.

Travel by Device

Some consumers may still be hesitant to purchase on mobile and tablet devices, but marketers who optimize their sites’ mobile experience will likely influence consumer decisions by offering a positive touch point along the consumer’s path to purchase. This will produce favorable brand sentiment and increase the possibility of purchase – leading many airlines to offer a more streamlined mobile experience through branded applications.

Looking at the bigger picture, consumers specific to the air travel sub-category seem to be very motivated and engaged, driving a lower average cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher average click-through rate (CTR) than other travel sub-categories, as shown in the chart below.

Travel Bubble Chart

When I think about the process I go through to book travel and accommodations, there are many steps before all components of the trip are confirmed and final decisions are made. Each aspect of the trip has varying levels of exploration with airfare being the lowest. Typically, the accompanying parts of the trip (tours, attractions, and excursions) allow me to be more exploratory, therefore I have less specific intent when I search, leading to a lower CTR. On the other hand, booking a flight is a necessity and doesn’t allow for as much flexibility or exploration, so when I search for flights, my intent is high, which increases my CTR. Paid search marketers should use this information to adjust their messaging based on expected intent of consumers.

While brand awareness, company websites, and search marketing can have a huge impact on overall performance, travelers are becoming increasingly influenced by social media, making it crucial that all advertisers have a social presence and maintain it regularly.

Within the travel industry, 51% of global consumers use a social channel to gain inspiration for at least once element of a recent trip.

Marketers in the air travel industry need to take this into consideration when developing their programs and leverage advanced tools for targeting based on likes, interests, and connections.

While marketers cannot predict how search and social will continue to impact the air travel sector, staying attuned to consumer behavior will dictate continual adjustments in strategy to drive traffic and generate sales.

To discover more insights and trends specific to the airline industry, view the Kenshoo Industry Spotlight on Air Travel  in full.