In a report we published last month called “Traveler Behavior in a Slowing Economy“, we discussed how the current economic environment is forcing travelers to reduce their travel frequency and spending.

We found that 33% of people who took a leisure trip in the summer say they will be more price sensitive than usual in their travel plans. Considering this is already an intensely price sensitive group with the average person researching 3 websites per product, More Price Sensitive is an important shift. In addition, 28% say they will research their travel even more intensely than they have before.

There are two trends whose implications I’ve been thinking about.

Last year, we�d seen an increase in branded search terms. I suspect going forward, words like “cheap”, “discount” and “deal” will creep back into top searches.

I also think we’re going to see travelers start researching earlier. That doesn’t mean they will purchase earlier. But they will be scanning, researching more intensely, and aware to pricing options to their desired destinations.

The combination of these two behavioral shifts could have a profound affect on all areas of online travel marketing. Search marketers will need to analyze their SEM robustly to determine if, in fact, they are affected by an increase in generic search terms. Promotions may need to start earlier and last longer. Website features will need to support longer planning windows.

The list will go on. “new economic reality” + “travel marketing”. Search.