Words That Work for the Holiday Travel Season


John Gagnon

Here are some ad copy tips that will help drive searchers to click this winter holiday season.

The upcoming winter season is about more than just gifts and retail – it’s the one of the high times for travel. The winter travel season is second in spending only to summertime vacations. If you’ve yet to see the big gains you’d like to see with your travel advertising, we’ve got some ad copy tips that can help drive clicks over the coming months.

Fifty one percent of travelers book 30 days or more during the holiday season. This long lead time for travel booking gives you plenty of time to capture searchers with the right ad copy. Also a good opportunity for retargeting.


Breaking Down the Travel Study

The researchers at Bing Ads recently looked into the best word combinations for PPC ad copy in the travel vertical. Bing Ads studied 108,000 ads running on the Yahoo Bing Network in the high winter travel season, November 2013 to February 2014. These ads generated 674 million impressions. To get a picture of the effectiveness of the ads, Bing Ads looked at the “clickability” of an ad (basically the click-through rate regardless of position). The Bing Ads study is broken into four travel sub-verticals: Airlines and flights, Car rentals, Hotels and Cruises. The report also sliced the data according to device: PC/tablet and mobile for further actionable insight. These insights can be applied to PPC campaigns across engines:

Today’s Deep Dive

Today we’re showing you the top five word combos by device for each category. We break word combos down by device so you can understand how user intent should affect ad copy.

Critical Insights

  • Across the board, in every sub-vertical and device, ad copy using “save/savings” and “deals/discounts” earn higher engagement. The only place this isn’t true is in an ad with “business” in the title and “discounts/deals” in the description – potentially revealing our tendency to spend more if it’s not our own money!
  • User intent as it relates to device is critical. Putting together different ads for mobile and PC is a must, as users on PCs are more likely to be attracted to official sites, while mobile users want to take action from a “book now” interface.

Airlines and Flights

  • It appears that PC/tablet searchers are putting together travel packages when they search for airlines and flights, as “hotels” in the ad title with “online” in the description get high clicks. Mobile searchers, on the other hand, are looking for last-minute deals and discounts.
  • Mobile searchers respond well to airline and flight ads that have the name of the airline in the ad title and destination in the description, possibly because the mobile searcher is accessing the airline for pre check-in or to verify flights that have already been booked.


Car Rentals

  • Car rentals are very specific to location, and ads with the name of a city in the title instead of in the description get more clicks.
  • When booking travel, the car rental appears to be one of the last items a traveler will schedule, as evidenced by high clicks on ads with “last minute” in the title and “save/savings” in the description.
  • Context (right now!) for the mobile searcher is evident in the top words for ad copy on this device: “Destination” (which means a city name) takes the top four of five spots for the ad title, with “car” taking the fifth spot. Searching for “car” on a mobile phone is the same as searching for a car in a specific city, as the mobile search pinpoints location and delivers results based on where you are.



  • For both PC/tablet and mobile, “discounts/deals” in the ad title and “exclusive” in the description makes it highly clickable. Here the ad combines incentive (deals!) with fear (exclusive – don’t miss this!) to generate a response from searchers.
  • Searchers on PC/tablet respond well to “accommodations” in the ad title, while mobile users look for “it’s happening right now” prompts in the ad title: “discounts/deals,” “call to action,” and “cheap/affordable.”


Cruise Ships

  • “Last minute” in either title or description cues clicks, owing largely to the industry trend of offering deep discounts on last-minute cruise bookings to fill boats.
  • Mobile searchers are more specific about the type of cruise they’re interested in, clicking on cruises with specific titles such as “mini cruises”, “singles cruises” and “Western Caribbean cruises”.


What to Make of This

Competition within all sub-verticals has driven pricing strategies to please the customers, who naturally search for discounts and deals regardless of their situation. This competition in different travel sectors contributes to the idea that deals can be had, if only you look hard enough.

Ad copy that offers discounts and deals must begin with a business strategy, of course. If your travel company isn’t seeing the clicks you’d like, consider back-tracking to a business plan that allows those deals and discounts to show up in ad copy.

Get Back to Us on That

We’d love to hear your experience with testing word combos in PPC ads for travel. What successes have you had in reaching holiday travelers?