Online Travel Sales Explode in Latin America

Online as a percentage of total travel sales to outrank Asia-Pacific in 2013

Consumers in Latin America are making more and more travel purchases online as individual markets begin to see higher internet penetration. In “Internet & Media 101” from September 2012, Barclays Capital forecasted that Latin America will lead all world regions in online travel sales growth through 2016, increasing by more than 30% on a yearly basis through 2013.

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Travel app usage is skyrocketing: fastest growing industry

Mobile travel marketing takes off in a big way

Travel companies are digging deeper into mobile app development as they aim to connect with consumers at all points during the travel journey. That means providing mobile services that support everything travelers are doing during their excursions, from planning to booking to sharing their experiences.

These efforts are getting consumers’ attention. A May 2012 Nielsen study, “Courting Today’s Mobile Consumer,” showed that in the US travel apps were seeing the highest year-over-year growth of any industry or product-related app category, at 116%, well above the growth in overall mobile app use (84%).

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Google on social, new travel business models and mobile

We managed to grab some time recently with Ali Yilmaz, travel head for South East Asia at Google.
Here follows a Q&A with Yilmaz about various issues including consumer buying patterns and changes, social media and innovation around the travel industry.


What are the most significant shift in travel consumers’ demands and online behaviour? How should travel companies react?

Travel consumers’ demands and online behaviours started to change long before the downturn. The internet was itself a very significant turning point in the travel industry; it was a traveller’s ‘dream’ come true on the computer screen. What we have seen in the recent years is a faster shift towards online and a variety of technologies emerging within.

Travellers’s online behaviours are changing every other day; 20% of all searches in the first 90 days of 2010 were never seen on Google before. Billions of searches were done and still, people find new ways of searching. On the other hand, consumers are adapting mobile technologies rapidly. In 2010, one in four internet minutes were on mobile. In two years, mobile internet users are expected to surpass desktop internet users and in four years time mobile searches are expected to surpass desktop searches.

Travel companies should closely monitor these changes in technology and consumer behaviour, and act quickly. There used to be a time when we were reluctant with new technology and therefore some preferred the “lets wait and see” strategy. Unfortunately we don’t have the time to “wait and see” anymore, it is time to adapt “as quick as possible”.

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How are SEO and paid search progressing in the travel sector?

travel searchThe travel industry believes that overall search marketing is basically going to become more complex and will require a better integration across all the disciplines, be it PR, social media, display, PPC and SEO to be truly effective.

In order to know more, EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta spoke to two executives from search marketing specialist and technology firm Greenlight. This is what Adam Bunn, Director of SEO and Hannah Kimuyu, director of paid search had to say:

Which according to you has been the most striking or potentially path-breaking development in the search engine marketing, especially from the travel sector perspective, in the last six months or so?

Adam Bunn – In terms of SEO and travel specifically, (it would be) the dual algorithm updates in January (unnamed) and February (“Panda” or “Farmer”) focusing on downgrading sites with duplicate and/or low value content.

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Nearly a third of smartphone users will research travel plans via mobile this year

iphoneSmart device apps and mobile-optimised websites are changing the way people travel, from trip planning to boarding an airplane to how they experience destinations.

This means new and richer opportunities for marketers to connect with consumers before, during and after their trips, according to eMarketer.

eMarketer estimates that nearly 25 million US mobile users will research travel information on their mobile devices before making a trip this year. Nearly 12 million will use the mobile channel to book their plans. The vast majority of both groups will be made up of smartphone users.

“Mobile has dramatically altered the travel experience,” said Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Mobile Travel Takes Off: Emerging Trends and Best Practices for Marketers.” “From pre-trip planning to in-flight and on-property services to context- and location-aware destination information, mobile devices promise to transform every phase in the travel process, putting vital information—and new marketing opportunities—within hand’s reach.”

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Search CPCs for travel Grew Over 20% in January

The average price of CPC search ads in the travel sector grew by more than 20 percent in January on a year-over-basis, according to data from online ad management platform provider Efficient Frontier. Prices also rose in the automotive, finance, and retail categories, pointing to an increasingly competitive overall search ad marketplace and growing investment from advertisers.

Following the holiday period in December, CPCs across all sectors dipped on a month-over-month basis, with retail – unsurprisingly – experiencing the largest change. After a year of strong growth in CPC prices in 2010, Efficient Frontier predicts more modest rises in 2011 as the market returns to more stable conditions following the economic turbulence of 2009.

U.S. Average Search CPC by Category,
January 2011 and December 2010
Category CPC January 2010 ($) CPC December 2010 ($) CPC January 2011 ($) Month-over-Month Change (%) Year-over-Year Change, January (%)
Automotive 0.51 0.64 0.55 -14.1 7.7
Finance 1.65 1.95 1.76 -9.7 6.5
Retail 0.37 0.55 0.40 -27.3 6.9
Travel 0.49 0.64 0.60 -6.3 21.3
Source: Efficient Frontier 2011