Passport Online Inc. completed its half-yearly analysis of the travel agency community activity across all digital channels for 2020. Consumer engagement on agency websites and social media confirm a shift toward U.S. searches, a bump in European river cruise searches and a desire to dream and begin to plan travel as the industry struggled to the end of the first half of a very difficult year.
Year over year, shopping sessions on agency websites took a hit as consumers hunkered down at home. But those who were shopping were digging deeper and staying longer. Unique consumer shopping sessions were just over 15 million; a drop of 25 percent compared to the first half of last year. But the click-through rate to specific travel offers jumped from 11 percent to just under 14 percent. Those click-throughs represent a consumer who does a search, finds an interesting supplier offer and clicks through to view it.
Search activity showed a slight shift toward U.S. travel and river cruises, while Mexico and the Bahamas remained at the top of the search list. There was a significant dip in ocean cruise searches and a spike in destinations, such as Vienna and Budapest, which both leapt into the top 10 as consumers explored European river cruise options in the first half of 2020.
An analysis of social media traffic also showed an interest in river cruising and a return to motivated shopping by the end of the first half of the year. Among the most viewed social media posts was a price-oriented river cruise sale promotion for 2021 sailings. This post was part of a newly created “deals” channel of posts for Passport’s ESP customers.
Ironically, the most liked post of the first half of 2020 was posted to advisor Facebook pages on New Year’s Day, asking travelers to share their travel desires for the coming year. The post said, “What are your top 5 picks for destinations to explore in 2020?” Gamification, Passport Online Inc. says, seems to be the winner strategy for agency social media posting. Posts challenging consumers and asking, “Where in the world” or “Would you rather” continue to lead in likes, shares and comments. To note, the post with the most clicks and the most comments was on March 30; the post states, “Time to play a game! You’re going on a vacation but can only visit a location that starts with the same letter as your first name - where are you going?”
Another standout post, ranking in the top category for likes and shares was a May 24 post asking to pick your mood. “Pick the image that best matches your current mood:
- Great Ocean Road, Australia
- Carpathian Mountains, Ukraine
- Hunts Mesa, Arizona, USA”
Passport Online monitors consumer interaction with their travel agency and helps more than 7,500 travel agencies create, expand and diversify their digital footprint through websites, social media and email marketing.