Timing is everything when it comes to reaching the right Canadian travellers in their travel planning journey

In the first of these two posts on travel marketing, I looked at the importance of using data in campaigns to ensure the right audience of potential customers is being reached with messaging that is most likely to appeal to them. In this second post, I want to highlight how getting the timing of campaigns right is integral to maximizing a campaign’s success.


Tourism marketing produces significant returns on investment. The Canadian Tourism Commission reported that “direct-to-consumer campaigns in 2011 inspired some 322,800 international travellers to come to Canada. These leisure travellers coupled with meetings conventions and incentive travel (MC&IT) generated an estimated $590 million in tourism revenue for Canada’s economy…”

To reach larger markets of travellers with a fluctuating budget (e.g. $58 million in 2014, down from $92 million in 2009 when marketing the Olympic Winter Games were in Vancouver) means that destination marketers must be focused on smarter marketing. How? By marketing at the right time to larger pools of potential travellers (i.e when the majority of people are starting to plan where they want to go) and with the right type of messaging that is going to appeal to them the most.

It may sound like a simple concept, but the net number of conversion can be significantly increased by marketing to a larger target audience, even if the conversion rate itself remains constant.

ThinkwithGoogle reports that people turn to the web early on in the travel process with 65% of leisure, and 69% of business travellers stating that “I generally begin researching online before I decide where or how I want to travel”, and online search queries related to travel and tourism grew by 13% in Q4 2014 and by 15% in the accommodations category. Travellers are online searchers. And destination marketers need to capture that large volume of search, at the time when people are most receptive to possible travel to new destinations. The chart below shows the volume of travel related searches in BC, AB and ON. The dashed lines shows when exactly the search volume for Winter travel related queries starts in BC (May) and peaks (December). BC travel searchers are early-birds when it comes to Winter vacation planning compared to other Provinces and US states. Depending on the region being targeted for Winter travel searchers, different timing and tactics are required. Once BC searches begin to taper off in December, the focus can shift to Ontario and California searchers, where volume is still growing.

winter travel search queries

Winter travel search queries grew +12% in Alberta, +4% in BC, +24% in Ontario. +17% in California, and +10% in Washington between 2013 and 2014.

The key points here are:

  1. In general, people search early for their winter vacations. DMO’s marketing and advertising campaigns should be well under way by the summer – if you’re waiting until the fall to try and reach winter vacation planners, you’ve left it too late.
  2. It’s important to understand that travel searchers behave differently between provinces and between Canada and the US. The highest volume of searches come from BC and ON in Canada, and California in the US. Geographical search volume can be very useful in deciding where, and when, to allocate marketing budgets.
  3. But – not all travellers are the same. As my previous post covers, marketing to the right person with the right messaging must be combined with marketing at the right time for maximum impact.
Rebecca Maynes
Rebecca Maynes is Mediative’s Manager, Content Marketing and Research. Her expertise lies in the creation of engaging thought leadership for Mediative. From compiling eBooks and case studies, to conducting research, analyzing data and writing white papers and reports, Rebecca is an integral part of Mediative’s Marketing and Research team. Rebecca began her career with Yell.com in England, and, after emigrating to Canada in 2005, she has gone full circle, joining Mediative, a Yellow Pages Group Company, in 2009. Prior positions include Marketing for a B2B Software company. Rebecca graduated from Cardiff University in Wales, UK, with a First Class Honours BSc in Business Administration.