How To Integrate Desktop & Mobile Search For The Travel Industry

Living in the old Italian neighborhood in Boston, I come across tourists everyday. It’s interesting to observe their behavior, particularly in a setting like Boston, which is famous for being a walking city.

Most tourists already have a hotel booked by the time they arrive. They have a set timeframe, and a short list of sights to see. Beyond that, a lot of their time is up for grabs. And they’re all carrying mobile phones of one type or another.

Keywords for Boston landmarks

Search activity for Boston landmarks is similar, but the quantities are different. More importantly, the timing is different, and will strongly influence how you build your landing pages.

Where’s The Mobile Marketing Opportunity?

Here are a few travel-related businesses that could tap into demand from the tourist on the ground:

  • Landmarks. If you’re an organization promoting a landmark, or a business nearby wanting to capitalize on your neighbor’s visitors, landmark content is a great magnet for mobile SEO traffic.
  • Restaurants. For restaurants, location is everything. If someone searches “seafood near Freedom Trail” and you don’t mention “Freedom Trail” on your site (or in your PPC keywords), you’ll miss that opportunity. Think like a tourist when planning your mobile SEO and PPC; use the terms they are likely to care about.
  • Bicycle Rentals. Tourists sometimes get ideas from the destination itself, and seeing a cyclist ride past can trigger a search. Same goes for group tours, boat rides, and other sightseeing activities. Setting up mobile PPC ads for keyphrases like “bicycle rental boston” costs very little, and can be left on autopilot. The mobile landing page would focus on location, hours, and would provide a clickable phone number. (If you have an online reservation system on your desktop website, I’d skip it – better to get them on the phone or into the shop at that point.)

The Crossover Point Between Desktop & Mobile Search

As mentioned earlier, tourists book their hotel reservations before they arrive. So any hotel’s effort to get a tourist’s attention once they’re in Boston would naturally have little effect.

Other travel businesses have buying cycles that are less clear-cut, and we see crossover points where desktop search passes the baton to mobile search.

Let’s look at this more closely:

  • Hotels. If I’m the typical Boston tourist, I was probably sitting at my PC 2-3 months ago, typing “hotels in Boston” into Google. Getting a PPC ad in front of me would require some geotargeting (I was sitting in Buffalo, typing a “Boston” search), timing (it’s 2-3 months before the warm weather starts), and good ad copy (mentioning a nearby landmark e.g. “Steps from the Freedom Trail”), The desktop searcher wants a landing page with photos and an online booking system. In contrast, the mobile searcher (already on the ground) wants an address, directions from the airport, and the check-in time.
  • Bicycle Rentals. People are just as likely to plan a bike rental in advance as they are to look for one at the destination. Here, a desktop strategy would echo the hotel approach, directing searchers to a desktop landing page with guide maps, photos of bikes, and quick access to online reservations.
  • Tickets. If you’re planning to take in a Sox game while you’re in Boston, there are lots of ticket vendors competing for your business. A desktop search for “red sox tickets” should bring you to a landing page with every available game, letting you choose what fits your schedule. In contrast, a mobile search is probably more time-sensitive: that first landing page should show you tonight’s game, a Buy button, and a link to the game list as a secondary page.

So if there is a formula for playing desktop and mobile search, it comes down to timing, landing page design, and the ability to anticipate what a customer needs at each point in the buying cycle. Similar logic can be applied to any industry, and can help you find creative ways to use mobile search as part of your overall marketing mix.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | How To: Mobile Marketing | Mobile Search


About The Author: runs Skypromote, an SEO agency in Boston and NYC, and has been doing search since 1998. You can follow him on Twitter @SherwoodSEO.

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