Teletext Holidays has slashed pay-per-click advertising spend by 20% as the economic downturn hits online holiday searches.
The company insisted the decision was a deliberate ploy to focus on “quality traffic” to its site and said it was continuing to plough money into expansion in niche markets such as cruise and ski.
Speaking at World Travel Market, managing director Matthew Cheevers said the company’s research showed online searches for holidays have fallen by 17% through search engine Google year on year, signalling a general decline in online holiday spend in the current climate.
“The market is awful across the board and so we have trimmed down our spend. There is no point chasing traffic that isn’t there. We are focusing instead on quality traffic,” he said. “We will use the money next year when there is a more stable market.”
Around 35% of Teletext Holidays’ traffic comes via pay-per-click advertising.
Cheevers said the company was pushing ahead with “reasonably aggressive” growth plans despite the downturn as it continues to move away from its image as a seller of mainstream cheap, late holidays.
In the last month, it has doubled the amount of ski holidays on its site for winter 2008/09, with 800,000 ski holidays now available on teletextholidays.co.uk, and it aims to quadruple the number of visitors to its ski section. It is working with tour operator Inghams for the first time to supply product.
Cheevers added: “We know our brand is strong in the lates market and we believe there is a gap in the market for ski. We have generated more income from ski in October than we got for the whole ski season last year.”
It is hoped ski sales will drive 10% of its current traffic, up from 5%-6%, and ultimately make up 12%-15% of overall business.
Another area for expansion is cruise holidays, which currently make up 7% of business through Teletext’s TV platform. It hopes to double its cruise business within six months by striking closer deals with selected agents and operators, specifically for product catering for the family market and first-time cruise holidaymakers.
Meanwhile, the company’s online retailer thisistravel.co.uk is expanding by launching more reader offers for mainstream holidays through parent company Associated Newspapers. Its first such deal is with Virgin Holidays.
* More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008