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Travel Digital Marketing: Best Online Advertising Tools in Russia for Tourism Industry

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In our blog, we have already more than once raised an issue of how important it is to use digital marketing for travel industry promotion. Today, we will inquire into various online promotion channels from the perspective of CJM. What advertising channels at what stage should be used so that a traveller became your loyal client right after his or her first trip?

So, from the very beginning, you will need a customer journey map. Where do you get it? Just enter your email and download a ready CJM for two categories of travellers.

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As for the example of how to promote your travel business (destination) to the first category (married couples, aged 40+), you can see it in our article Travel Market segmentation: A Key to Better Understanding of Russian Customer Needs.

Today we will consider an example of promotion with the use of only online travel marketing channels. So, there is guy whose name is Oleg, he is 28 years old, a freelancer living in Moscow, and he likes traveling alone. He also chooses countries with rich cultural heritage. Oleg realized his needs and capabilities and made a decision to go on a vacation to one of the European cities.

Research stage. How can he choose where to go? For sure, Oleg decides to study information on the Internet. And the first thing that he does is reading comments about cities on the pages of his favorite travel bloggers.

Publish Ads with Russian Travel Bloggers

One of 2018 online travel marketing key trends that also moved into 2019 is promotion through publications of microbloggers (whose number of subscribers is nearly 10,000). This trend is about travel bloggers, too. Their publication price, as a rule, is lower, while their audience is more loyal.

How do you find travel bloggers in Russia?

Option 1. Click on #трэвелблогер (#travelblogger) or #трэвелблог (#travelblog) tags. Look through thousands pictures and profiles, analyze them, and choose ones of the highest quality (pictures, texts with content of high quality and good engagement, and it is best to evaluate comments by hand, etc.). Besides, while working with travel bloggers, our article Brand Ambassador: How to Work with Opinion Leaders in the Russian Market will help you.

Option 2. Address to RMAA Travel. We will choose best Russian travel bloggers, taking into account the peculiarity of your offer and your wishes.

Who will benefit?

Practically, any player in the travel market can gain something from cooperation with travel bloggers. However, one should remember that a choice of a blogger must be as thorough as possible; otherwise, one can bump into account with fake subscribers and zero audience.

Based on bloggers’ opinions, Oleg makes a list of cities that we would like to visit. Then he decides to use search and know more details about cities and countries—what landmarks are there, if he needs a visa, what entertainments, hotels, restaurants are there etc. At this stage, the best promotion channel will be your own website that Oleg will find by means of context ads.

Context Ads in Yandex and Google

That’s it: moving forward in the internet market of Russia, you need to advertise in two search systems. Of course, you can do with launch of an advertising campaign in one of them, but bear in mind that you will lose nearly half of your potential clients. So, according to LiveInternet, 53.5% Russian Internet users have used Google for search within three last months, while 43.5% used Yandex (in February 2018, this gap was even less: 51% Russians in Google vs. 45% in Yandex).

As seen from this chart, the third place in popularity among Russian search systems is taken by Mail.ru—2.7% Russian users use it for search, but we are not going to consider this service in the context of context ads launch. More than 70% Russians use Mail.Ru as email, which makes it No. 1 mail service in Russia.

Who will benefit?

This type of advertising is suitable almost for any travel business (of course, if one has a website), but with its adjustment peculiarities. Setting up context ads in the Russian market, special attention should be paid to the location specification (ads geography). This is related to the fact that the area of Russia is huge (more than 17 million sq. km), and tourists from different country’s regions choose quite different countries for travelling.

So, for instance, if you promote a hotel in Finland, when launching context ads, you need to bear in mind that this country is most often visited by residents of Saint Petersburg and northwestern parts of Russia, while in the Far Eastern region this destination is not in demand. That is why you can either exclude Far East from publication venues or set up a separate campaign for this region with a lower rate and budget.

As a result, Oleg closed in on three cities: Madrid in Spain, Rome and Naples in Italy. Now he needs to know and compare air ticket and hotel room prices. Aggregators will help Oleg with that, for example, Aviasales and Booking.com. So, how can a representative of travel business attract Oleg’s attention to their offer?

Publish Ads in Popular Aggregators in Russia

Websites that let you book tickets and tours online are getting more and more popular. At that, you have probably noticed that, with regard to the majority of queries about travel (buy tickets, book a hotel, buy a tour), it is aggregators that take top places in search results. That is why advertising cooperation with such services, as a rule, gives results that are incomparable with other ads placement.

Main advantages of such placement:

  • Wide coverage. For example, monthly unique audience of aviasales.ru is 10 million users, 89% of them are located in Russia.
  • Target audience only. Aggregators allow filter targeting of users’ queries (geo, frequency, directions and dates of flight etc.).
  • A chance to place ads via various channels: banner advertising in the aggregator’s websitem special offers, emailing to the aggregator’s database, ads in social media on the aggregator’s pages, special projects etc.

Who will benefit?

Countries, airlines, hotels, tour operations—absolutely any representative of travel industry will be able to appreciate diversity of advertising opportunities and efficiency of cooperation with aggregators.

Let’s go through key advertising opportunities of one of the largest ticket aggregators in Russia— aviasales.ru.

Statistics about its audience:

  • 10 million unique page views monthly, 30 million page views in total.
  • 61% audience aged 25-44.
  • 89% from Russia (out of which, 53% from Moscow and 16% from Saint Petersburg)

Suggestions for ads placement:

  • Banner ads (banners, top placements, pre-rolls, special offers, and underlays)—the website offers a wide choice of advertising opportunities.

  • Mailing to the subscribers’ database—this is direct communication with an almost half-million audience. Along with that, high OR is ensured by the communication style—as the experts from the website assure, they “write only for a reason, tell gags, and pull no punches”.

  • Advertising placement on the service’s pages in social media:

VKontakte (214,000 subscribers)

Facebook (179,000 subscribers)

Instagram (148,000 subscribers)

Twitter (38,000 subscribers)

Odnoklassniki (14,000 subscribers)

  • Special projects—as a rule, it is a draw game or a quest, where a winner can win an airplane ticket, a booking, or another prize.

Oleg still cannot make a decision because prices on tours to the cities chosen by him are almost same. And suddenly he gets an email from an aggregator with a hot offer to go on tour to Madrid (because this was the city that was of interest for him when searching). What is more, he can use this offer only within three days.

Email Marketing

According to estimates of different agencies, OR of travel email in CIS countries (including Russia) is not that high (14% to 25%). One should not forget that a user makes a decision on where to go, by what airline, and where to stay, most often, not right here, right now, but incubates it for a long time. Emailing becomes one of a few tools that will let him or her not only get to know about your offer, but also save it to the decision point. You must admit that it is quite easier to find an email with an offer that interested you rather than to look for it via search, floating around the Internet. Moreover, here the competition will be much higher, and during the search the user can pretty much bump into an offer from your competitor, which will be of interest for him or her, too, but for you, the tourist will already be lost.

Who will benefit?

Emailing does not make sense if your database only has one contact, which is yours. That is why, for the very beginning, you need to collect this database.

While it is more or less clear with tour operators, where users subscribe to get information on last minute tours and special offers, what is to be done, if you are, say, a hotel owner? A great idea can be to use advertising or bartering placement through a database of tour operators or email marketing.

Read more about how to arrange effective emailing in our article Email Marketing for Travel Industry.

Social Media Advertising

One more channel that can effectively be used at the stage when a traveler explores offers is targeted ads in social media. Targeting works best for special offers (discounts for accommodation, last minute tours etc.). At that, apart from abstract tasks—to get new page subscribers (if you have it, of course), contribute to brand awareness, and generally stimulate promotion of travel services in social media—you should definitely set a more specific objective, for instance, how to get a certain number of leads within a set budget.

If we look at social media usage statistics by Russian users (including tourists), Top 5 will clearly stand out:

  • VKontakte (read more about publications on this platform in our blog VK Ads: A Type Guide)
  • Instagram
  • Odnoklassniki
  • Facebook
  • Youtube (if you have a beautiful video, you should definitely try online ads placement)

Source: Brand Analytics

Who will benefit?

As we noted before, if you have a last minute offer, go right to social media and collect leads (orders)! In general, just like context ads, if properly customized, targeted ads will suit for promotion of practically any travel services and offers.

Besides, when choosing social media for place, one should pay special attention to analysis of target audience. So, for example, last minute tours to Turkey will clearly work in VK with wide geo-targeting settings, but if you promote business travels, your target audience will likely be found in Russian Facebook, with geo-targeting to such large cities as Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

By so doing, you manage to involve two more effective digital promotion channels, thanks to which you won a ready lead—now Oleg will more likely choose your very offer.

Air ticket purchase stage. What can be done if Oleg does not want to buy a ready-made tour and decides to buy air tickets on his own? At this stage, airlines that offer flights, in this case, from Moscow to Madrid need, firstly, to customize context ads with a relevant query and promo in your website and, secondly, to cooperate with aggregators so that your offer could stand out against others (for example, in this case a top placement in the aggregator’s search results will work best).

Booking stage. Okay, Oleg decides to buy an air ticket at Aeroflot.ru and then goes to a choice of a hotel. Oleg decides to book a hotel via booking.com. Just like with the choice of the airline, at this stage hotels can ‘seize’ the lead at a search stage through context ads or at the very website booking.com, having granted the best price in their segment (for this, one needs to monitor dynamics of competitors’ prices). One more factor of no small importance is reviews. When choosing a hotel, reviews on booking.com and users’ estimates can make all the difference. This is, for example, a result of Top 3 in Madrid.

The leader is a hotel with the highest rate of 8.6 “Excellent” (by the way, travelers gave the highest rate for location of the hotel in the very heart of the city, i.e. travelers value proximity to the city center and are ready to pay manifold for a room), the second hotel became popular due to its quality-price balance. And the third hotel became the Best Seller as of the chosen date (for analysis, we took June 1 and 2)—do you know why? Price. It is not only much lower than what competitors have, but also now there is a special offer for staying there.

Car rental stage. Oleg chose a cheaper hotel. And he decides not only to stay in Madrid, but also take a drive to neighboring cities. For this, he decides to book a car in advance. Again, he uses Google for search. As for the query ‘book car Madrid’, competition is even higher than for air tickets and hotels. That is why, if your business is related to car rental, adjustment of context ads with the most relevant queries and an optimized budget must become a must-have tick in your check list of marketing tools for promotion in the Russian market.

During the trip and afterwards, Oleg write reviews about the hotel on booking.com and share his impressions about the trip on his pages in social media. The task of every player in travel business is to make holidays of travellers as comfortable and memorable as possible so that they would want to come back again and again.

This is how, using digital marketing channels only, you can guide a traveler from making a decision on travel to ticket buying. At that, at every CJM stage you can involve quite different advertising channels, including offline. Above all, do not be afraid of experiments and test various tools.

And remember—RMAA Travel experts will help you choose most effective tools for advertising promotion of your travel business in Russia.

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About the Author

Digital marketing manager, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Group Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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