5 Common PPC Ad Mistakes Travel Brands Make and How to Avoid Them

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There’s no doubt that Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is crucial for travel brands to reach their audience and boost sales. It’s just one of the many strategies travel businesses can use to increase conversion rates and secure those bookings. In the travel industry, where bookings and leads can be unpredictable, using PPC effectively is essential. Continue reading as we uncover five common mistakes travel brands make in PPC advertising. Most importantly, we will tell you how to avoid them. We will cover topics from location targeting, negative keywords and more. 

1. Neglecting Location Targeting for Travel Advertising

One of the most prevalent PPC ad mistakes in the travel industry is the oversight of location targeting. When travel brands fail to optimise their PPC campaigns for specific destinations or neglect to exclude irrelevant locations, it can lead to substantial wastage of ad spend.

The Problem

Imagine a travel brand promoting beach vacations without specifying the targeted locations. Without location targeting, their ads might be displayed to users globally, including individuals in landlocked regions or areas where beach destinations might not be feasible. This lack of precision wastes ad spend on audiences unlikely to convert and diminishes the campaign’s effectiveness.

How to Avoid

  • Thorough Audience Research: Begin by conducting comprehensive research on your target audience. Understand audience demographics, preferences, and, most importantly, their preferred travel destinations. Tools like Google Analytics, customer surveys, and social media insights can provide valuable data.

Example: If your research reveals that a significant portion of your audience is interested in tropical beach destinations, such as the Maldives, focus your PPC efforts on attracting travellers to these locations.

  • Utilise Geo-targeting Features: This allows you to specify the location(s) where your ads will be displayed. Refine your targeting to specific regions or cities to ensure your travel advertising reaches the most relevant audience. You can use tools and features like Google Ads and Facebook Ads for location targeting. 

Example: If your travel business operates in Europe and caters to winter sports enthusiasts, you can use geotargeting to focus your PPC campaign on regions with popular ski resorts, such as the Swiss Alps or the French Pyrenees.

  • Craft Location-Specific Ad Copy: Tailor your ad copy to reflect the uniqueness of each targeted location. Highlight special offers, events, or experiences specific to those destinations. This enhances relevance and creates a personalised connection with potential travellers.

Example: If your travel brand offers guided tours in historical cities like Rome, your ad copy can emphasise exclusive experiences, knowledgeable guides, and skip-the-line access to renowned landmarks.

  • Offer Location-Specific Deals: Enhance the appeal of your PPC campaigns by providing location-specific deals or promotions. This can incentivise potential travellers and increase the likelihood of conversions.

Example: If your travel business specialises in adventure trips and you’re targeting users interested in Costa Rica, consider creating a PPC ad highlighting exclusive discounts on zip-lining and rainforest tours.

By implementing these tips, your travel brand can ensure PPC campaigns are cost-effective and highly relevant to potential travellers. This level of precision maximises the impact of your advertising efforts and establishes a stronger connection with your target audience in the competitive travel industry.

2. Ignoring Seasonal Trends in PPC Campaigns

Seasonal trends influence the travel industry, yet many travel brands overlook how this can impact their PPC campaigns. Failing to adjust PPC strategies based on peak travel seasons, holidays, or events can result in missed opportunities. 

The Problem

Let’s consider a hotel chain that operates properties in various locations, including beach resorts, ski resorts, and city destinations. During the winter months, ski resorts experience a surge in visitors as people look for snowy getaways and winter sports activities. If the hotel chain fails to adjust its PPC campaigns to highlight its ski resort properties and winter-themed packages, it might miss out on attracting customers who are specifically searching for winter vacation options. Ignoring seasonal trends can result in irrelevant ad campaigns, diminishing their effectiveness.

How to Avoid

  • Create a Comprehensive Calendar: Develop a detailed calendar that outlines crucial travel periods, national and international holidays, and events relevant to your target audience. This can include major holidays like Christmas and Easter, school breaks, and specific cultural or sporting events that may influence travel patterns.

Example: If your travel business caters to family getaways, your calendar should highlight school half terms, such as Easter, summer holidays, and winter breaks, as critical travel periods.

  • Adjust PPC Campaigns Accordingly: Align your PPC campaigns with the identified travel periods on your calendar. Increase your advertising efforts and budget during peak seasons to capitalise on heightened interest. Ensure your ad schedule reflects when potential travellers are actively planning and booking their trips.

Example: If your travel brand specialises in adventure tours and you’ve identified a peak interest in trekking during the summer months, adjust your PPC campaigns to increase the visibility and promotion of summer trekking packages during this season.

  • Utilise Special Offers and Packages: Enhance the appeal of your PPC campaigns by introducing special offers or seasonal packages. This can incentivise potential travellers to make bookings during specific times, leveraging the urgency created by limited-time promotions.

Example: If your travel brand promotes luxury beach resorts, consider running a PPC campaign during the winter months with exclusive offers for warm, tropical getaways, enticing travellers seeking a break from the colder weather.

Travel brands can ensure their advertising remains relevant and impactful throughout the year by creating a comprehensive calendar, adjusting PPC campaigns accordingly, and utilising special offers. This attention to seasonal dynamics maximises PPC campaigns’ effectiveness and enhances the overall connection with the audience.

3. Boring Ad Copy in Travel Marketing

Compelling ad copy is paramount for engaging potential travellers in PPC campaigns. How are you going to entice potential customers? This is where you need to get into the mind of your ideal customer and figure out what messaging works best to enhance click-through rates (CTRs). Inadequate ad content is a common PPC mistake that can hinder the effectiveness of travel marketing efforts. 

The Problem

Consider a travel brand running a PPC campaign with bland, generic ad copy that lacks the power to communicate the unique aspects of its offerings. Inadequate ad content may fail to convey the value proposition effectively, making it challenging to differentiate the brand and inspire potential travellers. What strategies can your travel brand implement to ensure your ad copy captures attention? How do you make sure your ad copy resonates with your audience?

How to Avoid

  • Craft Persuasive and Unique Messaging: Understand your target audience’s motivations and desires. Craft ad copy that highlights the unique selling points of your travel services and resonates emotionally with potential travellers. 

Example: If your travel business focuses on cultural tours, your ad copy could emphasise immersive experiences, knowledgeable guides, and authentic interactions that give travellers a deeper understanding of the destination.

  • Utilise Compelling Language: Tailor your ad copy using language that speaks directly to the desires and interests of your target audience. Choose words and phrases that evoke emotions and create a sense of urgency, driving potential travellers to take action.

Example: If your target audience seeks adventure, use dynamic language such as “embark on a thrilling journey” or “discover the excitement of exploration” to convey the exhilarating nature of your travel experiences.

  • Highlight Customer Benefits: Clearly articulate the benefits of choosing your travel services. Whether it’s about relaxation, exploration, cultural enrichment, or unique experiences, focus on how your offerings fulfil the needs and desires of your target audience.

Example: If your travel brand specialises in wellness retreats, highlight the physical and mental rejuvenation people can expect, emphasising the transformative impact on their overall well-being.

  • Create a Sense of Exclusivity or Limited Availability: Introduce an element of exclusivity or urgency in your ad copy to stimulate interest. Mention limited-time offers, exclusive deals, or unique experiences that create a sense of scarcity and encourage potential travellers to take immediate action.

Example: A lacklustre ad with generic content such as “Book your beach vacation now. Great deals available” fails to captivate potential travellers. In contrast, an enhanced version like “Escape to Paradise! Soak up the sun on pristine sandy beaches, and create unforgettable memories. Limited-time offers available. Book your dream getaway today!” paints a vivid picture, appealing to the desire for a memorable vacation experience and creating a sense of urgency with limited-time offers.

By crafting persuasive and unique messaging, travel brands can develop PPC campaigns that effectively communicate the value of their offerings and resonate with potential travellers. This level of attention to detail enhances the impact of your advertising efforts and strengthens the connection with your audience.

4. Underestimating the Power of Ad Testing

In rapidly changing landscapes where consumer preferences and market trends swiftly evolve, the importance of ad testing cannot be underestimated. Travel brands may put themselves at a disadvantage by neglecting the potential impact that thorough ad testing can have on their marketing strategies.

The problem

Failing to recognise the value of regularly testing and optimising ad copy, headlines, or calls-to-action may lead to missed opportunities for enhancing click-through rates and overall campaign performance. In a fiercely competitive market, where every click counts, investing in comprehensive ad testing strategies becomes a pivotal aspect of staying ahead of the game.

How to Avoid

  • Conduct A/B Testing: Regularly conduct A/B testing to evaluate the performance of different ad variations. Test elements such as headlines, ad copy, and calls to action to identify what resonates best with your target audience. This iterative testing process allows you to refine your approach based on real-time data and user responses.

Example: If your travel brand offers adventurous and relaxing vacation packages, conduct A/B testing to determine whether emphasising adventure or relaxation in your ad copy yields better engagement and conversions.

  • Test Different Ad Formats: Explore diverse ad formats PPC platforms offer, such as responsive search ads, display ads, or video ads. Test how different formats perform in capturing the attention of your target audience. By experimenting with various formats, you can discover which visual and textual elements enhance the effectiveness of your travel advertising.

Example: If your travel business specialises in visually stunning destinations, test image ads showcasing these destinations against text-based ads to identify which format generates higher engagement.

  • Evaluate Performance Metrics: Pay close attention to key performance metrics, including CTR, conversion rates, and bounce rates. Analyse the data to understand which ad elements contribute to better campaign performance. Use these insights to refine your PPC strategy, emphasising the aspects that resonate most with your audience and optimising the elements that may be underperforming.

Example: If you notice higher engagement and conversion rates on ads emphasising exclusive discounts, adjust your strategy to incorporate similar promotions in future campaigns.

Travel brands can elevate the effectiveness of their PPC campaigns by implementing these strategic solutions. This commitment to continuous improvement and adaptation ensures better connections with the target audience, ultimately driving more impactful results.

5. Neglecting Negative Keywords in PPC Optimisation

One often overlooked PPC mistake in the travel industry is neglecting the management of negative keywords. Without a well-thought-out negative keyword strategy, ads may appear for irrelevant searches, leading to a wasted budget. 

The Problem

Let’s say a travel brand offers luxury travel experiences, but their ads appear for searches related to budget or discount travel. In that case, it can result in clicks from users who are unlikely to convert. This oversight can lead to a higher bounce rate, lower conversion rates, and unnecessary expenditure on non-converting traffic.

How to Avoid

  • Regularly Review and Update Negative Keywords: Implement a proactive approach to negative keyword management by periodically reviewing and updating your list of negative keywords. Stay vigilant in identifying terms unrelated to your travel services or that may attract non-converting traffic.

Example: If your travel business specialises in high-end luxury cruises, regularly review search query reports to identify and add negative keywords like “cheap,” “budget,” or “discount” to filter out users looking for more affordable options.

  • Optimise Budget Allocation for Impactful Results: Use the insights gained from negative keyword management to optimise your budget allocation. By directing your budget towards searches that align with your travel services, you can achieve more impactful results and improve the overall efficiency of your PPC campaigns.

Example: If your travel brand offers luxury spa retreats, use negative keywords to exclude terms associated with budget accommodations, allowing you to allocate your budget towards users actively seeking premium spa experiences.

Regularly reviewing and updating your negative keyword list can enhance the precision of PPC campaigns for travel brands. This level of attention to negative keyword management improves ad spend efficiency and ensures that PPC efforts are focused on reaching the most relevant audience. 


These common PPC ad mistakes can quickly derail even the most well-intentioned marketing efforts. The blueprint for PPC success in travel is as much about precision as adaptability. Following the above PPC tips to avoid making those five pesky mistakes will significantly help your travel marketing efforts. Crafting compelling ad copy that resonates with wanderlust and the power of ad testing ensures your message cuts through the noise and leaves a lasting impression. Don’t underestimate the impact of negative keywords – they are the unsung heroes in streamlining your PPC budget and ensuring it’s invested where it matters most. Regularly fine-tune your negative keyword lists, and watch your campaigns become more effective. Location targeting and keeping up-to-date with seasonal trends is a given for travel businesses. Remember, PPC advertising is not just about reaching your audience but also about connecting with them. It’s about speaking their language, understanding their desires, and inspiring them to go ahead and book with your travel brand.

If you would like to learn more about how to craft PPC ads for your travel business, you can find it here. Do you want someone to do it for you? Check out the travel marketing services we provide.

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