Online Ads for Travel Agencies, Hotels, Resorts and Tour Operators:
A Free Guide

Online ads are easily the most cost-effective, targeted and trackable way to promote your business. You can find out exactly who sees your Ads and how much you spend on them to get each cutomer.

This is impossible with billboard or radio advertising.

In this post we’ll show you how to advertise through two different platforms: Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. We’ll show you how to effectively use both of them to drive targeted traffic to your landing pages and website

Google Adwords (Paid Search Ads)

Google is not only the world’s most popular search engine, it’s also the biggest online ad channel. Google is where your customers go when they’re searching for all inclusive resort packages, tours, flights and anything else that’s a part of their trip or vacation

Getting seen by people interested in your travel packages at the exact time they are looking is called intent-base marketing – and it gets sales.

To do this, you want to be at the top of the first page of Google. And Google Adwords is the easiest way to do this.

Let’s take a look at the average Click-Through-Rates (CTRs) of the top-positioned Ads on Google:

Elements of a Google Ad:

1: Keywords

The keywords you choose tell Google which searches you want your Ad to be found for. So if you tell Google to show your ad to appear for the keyword “Mexico hotel”, your ad will appear in the search engine result page (SERP) of Google each time a person searchs for “Mexico hotel”. The more relevant they are, the more your Ad will show to people who want what you’re offering right now.

Here’s a few tips on choosing the best keywords for your Google Ads:

Make keywords relevant: Be sure your keywords match your offering and landing page that people are sent to when they click on your ad.

For example, if you’re promoting a discounted offer for new clients, use “discount deal on caribbean hotel package”, “[___ %] off European Tour Package”, “[type of] Alaskan cruise”, “All Inclusive Resort in [location]”)

Be specific: The more specific you make your keywords for each of your Ad Group Campaigns, the more likely you’ll match exactly what your customer wants. The better you match customers needs, the more click-throughs you’ll get to your site.

For example, if you offer European tours, use phrases like “Berlin Walking Tour” or “Guided Bus Tours of Spain” – not just “European tour”.

Think like your customer: Choose keywords your customer is typing. Your Ad only shows when the keywords or phrases you choose are typed into Google by your customers. The more you can get inside your customers head, the better you’ll do in Google AdWords.

Consider keywords like “Best Whistler Ziplining” or “Best Montana hunting lodge”.

Advanced Tip: Use Negative Keywords – Negative keywords tell Google what word or phrase searches you do NOT want to be found for. They help to narrow your search results and not waste your ad budget on irrelevant searches that include your keywords. For example, if you have a travel package for a resort in Bali that caters to adults-only, you will want your ad to appear when someone searches for “bali resort”, but not for “bali family resort”, so you would set “family” as a Negative Keyword.

For more on Google Ad keyword optimization, check out our recent post How Do I Optimize Keywords for my Google AdWords

And hey, if this is making your head spin, don’t stress. At Wishpond, we offer you our expertise in choosing the right keywords to get your ads seen at the right time by the right customer.

2: Ad Copy

After your Keywords, your Ad Copy is what will drive clicks to your landing page.

Your Ad Copy consists of a:

  • Headline: Your Headline is what shows at the top of your ad. It’s in blue. You have 25 characters (including spaces) to write this prominent first impression.
  • Display URL: Your Display URL is what searchers see as the page you’re enticing them to visit. It does not have to be the exact landing page web address your ad links to, but it should be relevant. You can, for example, include your website with the top keyword in your Ad Campaign.
  • Description Line (x2): You have 35 characters per line for the ‘body’ of your Ad Copy, including your CTA and USP.

5 Elements of High-Converting Ad Copy

  1. Use your top keywords: Be sure to make your Ad relevant by including at least one or two of your Ad’s keywords. Google likes this, and so do your customers. It shows that you relate to their needs.
  2. Use a relevant Display URL: Remember, the link that shows up in your Ad doesn’t have to be the exact website address of your landing page. Keep your Display URL short and self-explanatory.
  3. Make CTAs that are action oriented and irresistible: Keep your Call to Actions short action words that instill the urge for immediate clicks. If you have a time based offer, make it clear in your Ad.
  4. Use Ad Extensions: Ad Extensions are those blue links you see in Google Ads. Don’t lose this easy opportunity to provide more trust and information. Use Ad Extensions to give contact information, your local address, and more landing page offers.
  5. Promote a Benefit, Not a Product: Like any good marketing campaign, you need to show the beneficial value of your services. Advertising on Google is no different. Use your 70 characters to entice a click-through by emotionally connecting with your searchers.

Here’s an example of how to promote the benefits of your services. The Ad shows how the consumer will benefit with “Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body & Soul”.

3: Location targeting

Where you are matters to your customers. It matters to your bottom line too.

Be sure to select your location and hone it down further through radius targeting. That way you only pay for your Ad to be clicked by people nearby – not someone halfway around the world.

4: Ad Budget

The average Return on Investment for a Google Ad is $2 for every $1 spent. Yes, Google AdWords, done right, can double your investment by bringing in tons of new customers.

It’s really easy to set your budget in AdWords. All you do is put in the total amount you’re willing to spend for your Ads on a daily basis. You won’t overspend, because you’ve capped your daily budget.

There’s a number of strategic bidding methods you can use on Google AdWords. The most common strategy is CPC (also known as PPC). It’s highly recommended that you start with the CPC bidding, as Google AdWords is complicated enough!

Just in case you’re curious, here’s a breakdown of the top three types of bidding you can employ:

  • PPC/ CPC (pay-per-click/ cost-per-click) is what most small business marketers use. Your cost is based on the number of clicks on your ad. You can choose manual or automatic bidding. CPC is the default costing you see when you make your ad.
  • CPM (cost-per-impression) is best for branding. You pay based on every one thousand views – not the actions taken. This option is only available if you are advertising in the Google AdWords Network. Note: If you don’t even know what the Google Network is yet, I’d highly recommend you start with the PPC option.
  • CPA (cost-per-acquisition) is a more advanced bidding process. It requires you to have conversion tracking, and has a number of other criteria you must meet. You cost out your ads based on what you are willing to pay for a specified ad conversion. For example, if your ad’s destination URL links to a product page on your ecommerce site, or an email-gated landing page, Google tracks the conversions on your pages. You are charged based on each acquisition.

Wishpond can help you determine how much you should spend, and how many Ads you should run.

Our analytics lets you track your Ad performance in real time, and gives you reports on the value of each Ad you run.

Facebook Ads

But what about when people aren’t searching for spa services? How can you proactively drive new customers who aren’t searching for them on Google?

The answer is Facebook Advertising.

Types of Facebook Ads

There are three types of Facebook Ads: side-bar, mobile newsfeed and newsfeed (where these three types of ads appear should be pretty self-explanatory).

Side-bar ads are the cheapest and have the lowest average click-through-rates. Newsfeed ads are the most expensive and have the highest average click-through-rates.

Here’s what they look like on Facebook:

Pricing

There are two primary pricing structures: Pay-Per-Click (PPC or CPC) and Pay-Per-Impression (PPM or CPM) – an impression being 1,000 views of your ad.

How Many People will See Your Ad

How many people see your ad is determined by your targeted audience as well as your ad budget. When you create your ad and decide on your target audience (more on this later) you will see the “Potential Reach” of your advertisement on Facebook – “Reach” being the amount of people who may see your ad.

Facebook Ad Auction

Your Facebook Ad goes into the Facebook Ad auction (thus why you set your “Maximum Bid” within the Facebook Ad builder).

Within the ad auction, your ad competes against other ads for the same targeted audience. How much of that target audience your ad is shown to is based on your ad budget.

If your target audience is not within a competitive market, the amount you’ll need to bid to reach enough of them will be lower. No matter your bid, your ad will be shown on Facebook to a portion of its Potential Reach.

Objective

There are eight primary objectives to choose from for Facebook Ads.:

Page Post Engagement, Page Likes, Clicks to Website, Website Conversions, App Installs, App Engagement, Event Responses and Offer Claims

Depending on the goal of your spa online, you will likely be most interested in Page Likes, Clicks to Website, Website Conversions and Offer Claims

Creating a Facebook Ad

The focus of any Facebook Ad is standing out: from the rest of the Newsfeed and from the other ads on the page.

There are three concrete ways of doing this

  • Using color that catches the eye
  • Using an image that attracts attention
  • Using a headline that encourages a read-through.

Colors

  • Avoid colors that blend in with the Facebook color scheme (white and dark blue).
  • Use bright colors like reds and oranges to catch the eye of Facebook users.
  • While keeping your colors eye-catching, don’t go overboard with yellows or colors that clash, as this will have a negative effect and plunge your click-through-rates.

Images

  • Studies have shown that the most dependable image for a Facebook Ad is of a smiling woman (not necessarily a model, but someone relatable)
  • For your spa, focus on creating a mood. Show a warm, muscle-easing bath with candles or the cool, soothing blues of your relaxation room.
  • Headlines

    • After the image (with the eye-catching color), your Facebook Ad’s headline is the first thing people see. It needs to grab them and encourage them to read the body copy and engage.
    • Try the word “Free”, dollar values or percentage signs
    • Communicate value quickly and easily
    • Test using your brand name if you’re focused on Facebook users in your area who might recognize it
    • Use your brand name as well if you’re looking only for brand awareness. Remember, Facebook Ads are by far the cheapest way to put your logo in front of 1,000 people (as little as 25 cents, as opposed to $32 for a newspaper ad).

    Examples of Ad Headlines

    • 50% Off Ziplining
    • Discover South Africa
    • 6 Reasons to visit Bali!

    Examples of Ad Calls-to-Action

    • Click here to learn more!
    • Check out the offer here!
    • Learn more on our site.
    • Get access now!
    • Treat yourself!

    Targeting Strategies

    Targeting is what make Facebook Ads make sense for your business. Unlike Google AdWords, nobody is actively searching for your spa. This, automatically, reduces the chance of a click-through.

    However, targeting allows us to combat that inevitable hit and bring the return-on-investment from Facebook Ads back to a level that works (and works well) for your spa.

    Facebook’s unprecedented knowledge of the personal information and interests of its users makes it possible to advertise directly to the people who are most interested in you. Not only does this make it easy to find the right people to advertise to, but also ensures that you’re not spending your marketing dollars advertising to people who aren’t likely to become customers.

    Demographic Targeting:

    Demographic targeting is where you ensure your ad is only shown to your demographic market. There’s no point in promoting your adult-only holiday package to teenagers!

    Remember, showing your Facebook Ad to anyone who isn’t likely to buy from you is a waste of money and ad budget. So focus those ads!

    Facebook is constantly updating their ad tool, and recently added demographic categories of financial and place of work, meaning you can show your ad exclusively to people who make (or don’t make) a certain amount of money or work in a certain field.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    Precise and Broad Interest Targeting

    • Precise interest targeting allows you to be sure that only people who are interested in your spa’s services are seeing your ad.
    • Facebook gets both precise and broad category interests from the things people have Liked on the platform, put on their timeline, or changed in their profile. As this is all public information, Facebook advertisers (that’s you) can use it to target your ad audience more specifically than you can imagine.

    Let’s take a look at an ad audience targeted for your spa:

    If this ad’s location was New York, these precise interests would result in a possible ad reach of 146,000 people. With an ad budget of 20.00 per day, you’d be looking at anywhere from 44-87 clicks through to your spa’s website.

    Broad Category targeting is based on information taken from a person’s Facebook Timeline or “About” page. This information can be anything from dog or cat ownership, political leaning and favorite sport to relationship status.

    For hotels and resorts in particular, you can target people who are intending to travel to a certain destination, which is the perfect audience to advertise to. Here are a few of the destinations you can target for:

    Custom Audience Targeting:

    Custom audience targeting allows you to re-capture lapsed customers, or re-engage your spa’s clients and encourage continued patronage.

    Here’s how it works:

    • Import your existing customer emails, contact database, or phone numbers into your Facebook Ad Tool
    • Facebook finds the Facebook profile that corresponds to your customer’s email address
    • Target a specially-designed Facebook Ad at this custom audience
    • Design your ad to be focused on rewarding loyal customers or regaining lost patrons

    Lookalike Audience

    Lookalike Audiences also target individuals as Custom Audiences do, but a lookalike audience (rather than being focused on your existing contacts) focuses on people similar to them.

    Yep, that’s right! Facebook takes your custom audience list and analyzes their profiles. They then scour the platform for users with the same demographic details, location, and precise and broad category interests.

    With Wishpond’s Facebook Ad Tool in particular, it’s incredibly easy to target a similar audience. Simply click “Also target people who are similar to people in this list”

    I’d recommend you target your lookalike audience with an ad based around an offer, but remember these are still users who are unlikely to recognize your brand. Use the best-practices I gave above to grab the eye and encourage engagement on your ad.

    A Few Example Facebook Ads for Spas

    What makes this ad work

    • Every bride wants a “Dream Wedding”. This title is perfect for sparking their attention
    • The happy, kissing couple is perfect for drawing the attention of engaged, loving couples looking to to have their dream wedding
    • The red border around the image helps it to stand out and has been proven to draw attention
    • “Click here to Learn More” is a great CTA. It doesn’t imply any pressure to buy right away, just to learn more about the offer

    What makes this ad work

    • The headline “Get in Shape on the Beach” evokes curiosity, about how to achieve a goal while being some place beautiful and relaxing
    • The text discusses a common problem with all inclusive resorts, which is that people eat and drink too much and get out of shape, and puts this vacation package as the solution
    • The image is not the most attention-grabbing, but it helps get viewers in the “beach” state of mind

    What makes this ad work

    • The headline is great: It pushes you to take action and the word “Slimed” is a funny, unusual word that will pique people’s interest
    • The word “FREE” is always a great way to get people to click to learn more
    • The picture of the big Spongebob is a great way to get attention

    Hopefully you’ve got a better understanding of how Facebook Ads can work for your spa. If all this sounds a bit complicated, or if you’re experiencing frustration or a poor ROI with your own Facebook Ads, give us a call at Wishpond and we’ll give you a hand.

    Written by James Scherer