How Consumers are Searching Online for Airlines

Since my job is to focus on all things marketing, I follow several online publications. One of my favorite’s, Hubspot, recently produced an Online Marketing Opportunity Report. At first, I was greedy and kept the information to myself. I’ve repented though and decided to share the valuable information with the industry.

The report starts by stating:

You have finite resources and nearly infinite possible online marketing channels. Where should your company put its marketing dollars and effort to work? Do you wonder if it is worth the effort to start a Twitter account or a Facebook page? Are you having trouble going beyond basic search engine optimization (SEO)?”

The 50 page report then goes on to breakdown online activity by 33 different industries. For our purposes here, I will review the Travel, Tourism, Spa, Restaurant, Hotel, and Airline industries.

So where are the online conversations happening?

The report first categorizes online activity into three segments - Search Engines, Blogs, and Social Media. The image below shows trends and where activity is happening online, though does not represent exact numbers. But rather, the graph is intended to show the proportionate amount of activity using search engines, reading blogs, or spending time on social sites like Twitter or Facebook.

Online Activity by Travel Industry

The graph shows that for Travel and Airline, consumers spend more time using search engines than blogs or social media. So what does that mean for your airline? This information means that your search engine optimization and keyword selection are very important. What strikes me as odd though, is that Tourism is dominated by blogs and social media. I believe that this discrepancy can be explained by types of consumers.

  1. Business Travelers - Your frequent flyers are not looking for tourist destinations but rather what flights are available, prices, etc. Search engines are more useful when finding this type of information.
  2. Leisure Travelers - Traveling families care more about what’s at their destination. They want reviews from trusted bloggers and friends about hotels, theme parks, restaurants, night clubs, etc.

Armed with this information, you can now create a two fold marketing approach. For Business Travelers, make the information they want easily found by search engine. For Leisure Travelers, use blogs and social channels to emphasize how your airline is part of the total vacation - whether that be your route structure, brand partners, or in-flight experience.

What social media sites are specifically used?

Whether you are already engaged in social media or are looking to launch new social profiles, you must understand where your audience is. I have heard a lot of companies say that they need to be on Twitter. My first response usually is, “Why?” I’m not saying that Twitter may not make sense, but don’t use a given social network just because it’s a buzz word.

Do not simply look for the most active area for your industry and conclude that the optimal place to market is the most active space. As with many things in life, it is possible that great benefits can be accrued by following the less travelled path.”

First, identify your objectives. Are you trying to improve customer satisfaction? Are you trying to push more promotions? Do you want more visits to your site or are you happy having the consumer stay at the social network? Having said that, let’s look at what social sites consumers are using.

Social Media Activity by Industry

How’s your YouTube Channel? Have a YouTube Channel? Are you active on LinkedIn? Again, once you’ve established your objectives, determine whether these social networks fit into that strategy. For example, Facebook Page can be a powerful tool (when implemented correctly), but there are other sites generating more activity than Facebook. So choose your poison wisely.

Download the full report

The report goes into more detail and analysis which can be translated into an actionable strategy by channel. For more information, you can download the full report at

About Adam Williams

With six years of IFE experience, Adam is currently a freelance writer for several industry publications and marketing consultant for vendors. He can be found online at and @SpeakWithAdam.

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