Search tips for brands to ride the wave of US inbound growthNews / Technology | OnlineBy Viewpoints | August 28, 2018Share This article was originally published on This is a viewpoint by James Pazhavila, travel analytical lead at Microsoft.After peaking in 2015 and then tapering off through 2017, data indicates that the number of inbound travelers to the US is on the upswing and is expected to increase by 19% over the next five years.That equates to six million additional visitors in 2021 as compared to 2015.This is great news for travel brands. Whether international travelers are seeking the beaches and nightlife of Miami or the rich arts scene of New York, opportunities abound for digital marketers that engage with these travelers.But where do travelers begin their planning efforts? Yep, you guessed it: online search. In fact, nearly three-quarters of first travel searches are generic as searchers sleuth out ideas to make their vacation memorable. It’s up to you to help them out.Below, I’ve laid out a few insights to help you better understand and engage these travelers through online search and make your brand part of their international travel equation. Where are they coming from? According to data from the International Trade Administration, five countries account for nearly two-thirds (64%) of the projected growth, with the largest influx coming from Mexico (25%) and China (19%), followed by Canada, India, and South Korea.From an online search perspective, Bing Network search data for the travel vertical indicates that the bulk of US destination searches are originating in North America and Western Europe. Among these markets, the most search volume is generated by our neighbors in Canada, followed by France, the United Kingdom, and Mexico.Furthermore, the greatest number of origin/destination pair searchers in our data come from Canada. Where are they going? In general, our data shows that a substantial portion of international searchers are scoping out tourist hotspots such as Las Vegas, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. But smaller cities are also showing up in our top 25—places such as Boston, Nashville, and even Buffalo.From a seasonal standpoint, most US destinations see a stable search volume year-round. The exception is New York and Miami where search volumes swell in the summer and spike in January.We’re also seeing some clear trends when it comes to destination searches by origin. Most origin/destination pair searches came from Canada, while US destination searches skew toward Las Vegas.But the top origin/destination pair search? London to New York, followed by Paris to Los Angeles and Toronto to Las Vegas.By paying attention to these trends, digital marketers can tap a goldmine of opportunities and spend budget where it matters most. What are they looking for? Across the board, the top-searched category on the Bing Network for international travelers is accommodations, accounting for 37% to 82% of searches, depending upon country.While many are looking for hotels, a significant number are also open to a variety of lodgings, seeking private accommodations on sites like Airbnb. Furthermore, travelers are looking to maximize their budgets and create memories by building attractions into their planning. In fact, 68% are choosing those attractions before their vacations begin. Other top searched categories include transportation and excursions, tour operators, and travel booking services. How can you engage international travelers? Online search spans the full customer decision journey, especially when it comes to travel. Keep the following tips in mind as you build out a search strategy for each market. Speak their language When engaging international travelers, localization is key. Be sure that ad copy and content is in the primary language of your target audience. Make sure your website can be translated into various languages to accommodate an international audience. Engage early Because most first travel searches are generic, engage travelers early on using non-brand keywords. Center your search strategy on the categories that searchers are exploring. Capitalize on common trends in origin/destination searches to capture these searchers. Build confidence Help travelers to feel good about choosing your brand. Take advantage of review extensions to help travelers solidify their plans. Because pictures are worth - well, you know - use image extensions to give searchers a glimpse into your brand. Make it easy Help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for on your site using dynamic search ads. Employ flyer and price extensions to offer travelers appealing deals and experience packages that increase overall value and make planning easier. Highlight nearby parks, aquariums, and other attractions with enhanced sitelinks to entice travelers.I hope you’ll take advantage of these insights to make your travel brand a melting pot of international travelers. And take a look here for more online travel research and trends from my analytics colleagues at Microsoft.This is a viewpoint by James Pazhavila, travel analytical lead at Microsoft.Opinions and views expressed by all guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of tnooz, its writers, or its partners.