Over a year after the UK first locked down as a result of the coronavirus threat, it’s safe to say that all of us are overdue for a well-deserved holiday. With domestic and limited international travel now allowed for UK holidaymakers, here’s a look at what consumers are reading about and clicking on when it comes to travel.

The UK’s ‘green list’ of countries to which UK residents are allowed to travel without quarantining when they return was announced on May 7th. Since then, we’ve seen a surge of interest in travel-related articles on the Taboola network in the country. In the past two weeks, traffic to travel-related articles has increased by over 75%.

What are people reading about? According to data from Taboola Newsroom, significant UK traffic related to travel is being driven by articles about:

  • Business travel (traffic increase of 119% in the past 2 weeks)
  • Transport (+23%)
  • Hotels (+28%)

Unsurprisingly, the government’s ‘green list’ announcement of the 12 countries UK residents can travel to without quarantining when they return significantly increased traffic to articles about several of the most popular destinations.

Portugal proved to be the most popular destination for readers, driving over 354K page views in the past two weeks, an increase of 416% from the previous two weeks. On the graph below, you can see page views spiked on May 7th when the green list was confirmed and has remained elevated on average in the two weeks following the announcement. Since this data was pulled, of course, the government has made a surprise decision to remove Portugal from the green list, dashing many travelers’ hopes of holidays on the beaches of Faro.

Other popular destinations (still on the green list, for now) include Iceland, with 113K page views in the past two weeks (an increase of 192%), and Gibraltar (856K page views, 112% increase).

Israel is also on the ‘green list’. While Israel was expected to be a popular holiday destination, recent instability in the country has put this into question and driven significant news-related page views on our network; we, therefore, excluded it from the analysis.

Several traditional UK holiday destinations, such as Spain, Greece, and France, were notably omitted from the ‘green list’. However, this hasn’t stopped UK readers from daydreaming as they hold out hope that a trip to one of these destinations will be possible before summer’s end.

So what’s on people’s minds as they plan their first post-lockdown holidays? Unsurprisingly, travel insurance tops the list: traffic to articles about travel insurance has increased by 412% in the past two weeks as people are anxious to ensure they’re protected in case the unexpected happens. Here are a few examples of popular articles on the topic on the Taboola network:

Despite international travel being possible, COVID testing requirements and some general uncertainty mean that some holidaymakers prefer to stay closer to home this season. Articles about UK travel destinations continue to receive a large amount of traffic: for example, articles about Yorkshire have driven 804K pageviews in the past month. Other popular UK destinations on our network include Kent, Lancashire, Skegness (Lincolnshire), and Wales.

With these trends in mind, here are our tips for travel marketers looking to capture the attention of UK travellers post-lockdown.

Target the Right People at the Right Place and Right Time

Before tackling the content of your ad, it’s important to establish who you want to see it, and in what context.

First, determine whether you want to target specific audiences, such as those travelling with kids, or simply reach a wide audience at scale. For example, an airline may wish to test targeting users with a known interest in air travel, as these people may be more likely to be comfortable travelling by plane post-lockdown.

Here are some examples of interest-based audience segments you can target on Taboola:

  • Interest > Travel > Traveling with Kids
  • Interest > Travel > Hotels
  • Interest > Travel > Transportation > Air Travel

Alternatively, you could use contextual targeting to serve your ads to readers at the very moment they’re reading about travel-related content on sites like MailOnline or The Independent.

Once you’ve built your audience, consider when they’re most likely to engage with your ads. Our data from the past 3 months shows that the best time to serve UK readers with travel ads is at lunchtime or in the evening hours. At these times, competition is low, while click-through rates are high, maximizing the chances of your audience engaging with your ad.

As for day of the week, we recommend testing additional campaigns on Thursdays and Fridays.

Optimize Your Ad Creatives to Capture Attention and Drive Engagement

To make sure your ad grabs consumers’ attention, use video instead of still images where possible. Not only does video almost always perform better than still images, but in the UK travel category, few advertisers are currently running video campaigns. This means that competition is low, and click-through rates are high.

When considering what kind of imagery to use, make use of our free-to-use Taboola Trends tool, which analyses the performance of thousands of ads across our network on a weekly basis, to determine what type of imagery is performing best in your target category and market.

Currently, for example, travel ads featuring people are achieving an 81% higher click-through rate on average than those without a person. In the context of travel, images featuring people in aspirational settings may help consumers imagine themselves in the destination, and increase their likelihood of clicking.

Interestingly, when the person in the image is female, ads perform 93% better on average than when the subject is male.

The final piece of your ad is the headline. You can use the Keyword tool in Taboola Trends to check which words are driving high engagement, and which aren’t. Currently, there’s high competition in the travel category for traditional travel-associated words, including:

  • Stay (-67% CTR impact)
  • Explore (-65% CTR impact)
  • Holidays (-64% CTR impact)
  • Discover (-60% CTR impact)
  • Luxury (-58% CTR impact)

Try to avoid these words when building your headline. Instead, consider using high engagement keywords like:

  • World’s (+107%)
  • Towns (+36%)
  • Incredible (+23%)

You can also use the Title Analyser tool to test out different headline options. Here’s how these headlines stack up against each other:

Learn from Successful Past Campaigns

ISCHGL is a well-known Austrian mountain region resort. Their agency, Elements.at, wanted to raise awareness and interest in the resort by highlighting three of its strengths: skiing, lifestyle, and nightlife.

They leveraged Taboola Video for three different video assets related to each topic, and used performance to determine which captured the most consumer interest to optimise their campaign accordingly.

As a result, Elements and ISCHGL saw a 3x increase in the number of video interactions per active viewer, and over 4,000 total video interactions with the campaign.

You can read the full case study here and find more examples of successful travel campaigns on our Resource Center.

Make the Most of Your Post-Lockdown Travel Campaigns

After months of lockdown, UK consumers are undoubtedly already thinking about their first getaway, and travel brands need to mobilize to capture the public’s attention and interest at this crucial moment.

Using these tips, your travel brand can create ads who content is engaging and relevant to your audience.

When it comes to showing your ads in the right context, contact our team to find out how Taboola High Impact can place your brand in premium online destinations in the UK and worldwide.

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