‘Think with Google‘, which hosts the web apps that collate the seemingly infinite amount of data which Google can access, has released a dashboard dedicated to travel behaviours. The catch is that right now it is only dedicated to U.S travel, however destination marketers in this area will find the tool incredibly useful and if it proves popular it could very well expand to include international data. So even if you’re not a U.S-based DMC, in just 3-minutes you can be prepared and learn how to use the dashboard in case it becomes relevant in your destination!
What can the Travel Dashboard be used for?
The basic use for the Travel Dashboard is to analyse trends and outlooks of the public’s travel behaviours from between June 2013 and June 2015 across the US in order to plan campaigns and adapt to potential changes within the industry.
Even upon opening the page for instance, the first chart for hotels shows a clear upset for the hospitality industry in that there has been a massive spike in queries for vacation rentals over hotels. If this turns out to be an on-going trend, this could mean companies in destination management that only have strong partnerships with hotels may need to consider expanding partnerships within the hospitality industry to include vacation rentals when organising client accommodation.
We also see a clear definition of the peak and off-peak seasons for US travel based on the number of overall search queries.
A more focused look at US travel
Apart from the broad and overall look at the industry, the dashboard also focuses on 25 popular destinations from around the US to show where people from a certain place prefer to visit, and also where people visiting a certain location come from. All this within the context of air travel, car rentals (at the destination), and hotel stays.
It shows the most popular itineraries, so for example, any destination marketer based in Las Vegas, it’s clear that based on the popularity of this destination shown in the dashboard for people driving and flying in from Los Angeles and flying in New York, these should be noteworthy destinations for local marketing campaigns.
Finally, we get to see who the most popular brands are in the flights, car rental, and hotel industries in terms of search volume, in addition to their year on year growth. With hotels for example, although Marriott is on top, it has the slowest growth with Hampton Inn And Suites in second place now growing at the fastest pace. You need to know what your clients are looking for and that includes their favourite brands, so these insights help everyone in the industry stay ahead of the game!
Optimising your online assets
The last sets of data from the Travel Dashboard helps companies to prepare and plan online assets. That is to say, websites, blogs, social media campaigns and any other online media. The top 5 travel-related questions can be used for a number of things, such as creating useful content including landing pages and articles based on these questions as well as being prepared when your clients ask these questions directly. If “What to do in (destination)?” is important for travellers, then you’ll want to be the brand that can provide them those answers.
Then, one of the biggest changes to online marketing as we know it has been the advent of mobile browsing, so it makes sense for a section of the travel dashboard to show the increase year on year of public searches from mobile devices in each industry. We see huge increases of at least 33% in all industries, but in general the ones with the most mobile searches include the hotel, tours and attractions (about half that of hotels), and air industries (about a third of that of hotels). It shows that as a bare minimum, responsive designs for mobile and tablets are essential. If you’re in an industry that is now heavily depended on by mobile users, you’ll need to focus more resources into mobile design and advertisements, and user experience.
Apart from travel articles, infographics, and news from Google Travel, which each give their own insights, you can see the most popular travel videos of 2015 for inspiration on the kind of video marketing campaigns that are having the biggest impact on travellers.
The best part is that this tool can be used to access data for free! Data like this can be incorporated into your current plans in creative ways to gain an understanding that may not have been possible before. In rare cases, the public makes drastic changes in behaviour and you might have to in turn drastically alter future goals (keep watch on the vacation rentals industry vs hotels, for instance), and the only way to stay ahead of the game is to see these changes coming!
While the current data set is restricted to U.S travel, you can definitely still learn a thing or two even for international travel. If ‘Think with Google‘ ever decide to expand on the Travel Dashboard, it would certainly have an extensive effect on how businesses within the travel industry – including Destination Management Companies – function. A very exciting prospect indeed.