Marketing for travel agencies – Antonio Rodríguez

Antonio Rodríguez works at marketing for travel agencies sector in Kerala Viajes and is also an SEO consultant in Q Marketing Internet. He started in the online world out of necessity and in the SEO one out of curiosity. His family had a travel agency in Malaga and, since they needed a website and Antonio was good at computers, he set out to create it. Later, he discovered SEO world and, when he tested it on his website, he realized that it was extremely useful for marketing for travel agencies. At the moment Antonio no longer lives in Malaga but in Mexico and, although he doesn’t say no to returning, he points out that he still has a few years left there. We take advantage of his experience to ask him the differences between the way of doing SEO in both countries, the tools that Mexicans prefer and the state of the different markets. On the other hand, we also talk to him about marketing for travel agencies, its peculiarities, the strategies that work best and the market niche of this sector in LATAM.

When and how did you get interested in SEO?

It all started in 2005 in Malaga when I founded KeralaViajes.com with my family. I was 21 years old, I was studying at university and we needed to create a web page. I have always been good at computers but I had no idea how to create a website, so I bought a book on how to create them. At night, when I finished working at the agency, I started to develop it. That’s how I started in the online world. Years later, I attended a Digital Marketing congress in Malaga where there was a specific SEO workshop and it was where I started to become more interested in this discipline. From that moment I began to read everything I found on the Internet about SEO, I had found my vocation and I could also dedicate myself to it. Although I was still working as a travel agent, little by little I began to make small changes to my website at the SEO on page level. Soon I began to see that the visits were growing and, although we were a local agency, I saw that we were getting clients from other cities. That’s when I started to dedicate a large part of my time to creating digital marketing strategies and search engine positioning.

 

How did you end up working in Mexico? Would you return to Spain?

As you know, on the internet and with a computer you can work anywhere in the world. I ended up in Mexico for love and for living new experiences and knowing other ways of living and working, life is too long to live in the same place. In Mexico I joined the Q Marketing Internet team as an SEO consultant and later as a partner. I continued working with Kerala Viajes as manager of all the online strategy and the international market. I also have the opportunity to be a professor of digital marketing in some universities here, it is something that I love and it makes me be updated from day to day. Would you return to Spain? Surely, but at the moment we are happy here and we will be a few years older.

 

Are there many differences between how we do SEO in Spain and in Mexico? Which?

There are few differences. If we are based on comparing google.es or google.com.mx, the algorithm updates arrive practically at the same time because they use the same language. What does change is the competency, although there are increasingly better SEO consultants, there is still a long way to go to Spain; It may be easier to position a result here than in Spain. Another big change is the companies knowledge of SEO, it is also quite bigger in Spain. Here they bet more on the PPC and social media strategies.  

“Creating Digital Marketing strategies in our sector is not easy and, in addition, no cheap, but if you specialize, you know your market and think first on the user, there is still a market  niche for everyone.” Antonio Rodríguez

Do you feel comfortable with the current SEO tools?

The tools are improving more and more. Perhaps there is no perfect tool but a combination of all. It is something that many SEOs say but it is reality. I have used semrush, sistrix, xovi, moz and some more, but the one that works best in Mexico at the level of databases and study of the competition is without a doubt ahrefs. When I was in Spain I was a fan of Semrush but in Mexico ahrefs finds more words positioned. In the agency we also use a lot of SEO Powersuite, especially Rank Tracker that allows you to do very good studies of keywords and tracking of positions, of course we also use screaming frog and log analyzer.

 

You have managed to position companies from different fields such as travel, education, events, magazines … How does the sector for which we work in our strategy affect?

The sector is perhaps the first question we ask in the agency when a client comes to us requesting an SEO service. It is not the same to position at the travel sector that is much more mature and with a lot more competition than at the sector of lawyers or business services where the competition is quite minor. It also influences the strategy. Since, although it is a hypothesis, we have realized that Google follows patterns and the strategy it allows in one sector does not allow it in another.

 

In that same line, what kind of sectors do you find most difficult to position? And on the contrary?

The more mature and more competitive sectors will always be much more difficult to position. Where money and large portals are, there will always be much more difficulty. To mention some: Travel, real estate, cars, fashion, technology, insurance, etc. Comparing with Spain, where the competition is very high, here the simplest sectors to position are emergency services, locksmiths, plumbers,carpenters… With a good SEO on page, content and with a few links you can get good results.

 

In parallel to your work as an SEO consultant, you have also been working for Kerala Viajes for 13 years as the manager of the digital marketing strategy. What are the peculiarities of marketing for travel agencies?

The tourism sector and travel in general is perhaps the most mature market in the internet as far as ecommerce is concerned. The competition is huge and it was the sector in which more than 80% of customers started making their first online purchase. surely with a flight. It is the sector where the highest levels of online billing are produced and, overall, where more queries are made in the search engines. Creating Digital Marketing strategies in our sector is not easy and, in addition, no cheap. But, if you specialize, you know your market and think first of the user; There is still a market for everyone. The sector is as big as countries, cities and places there are in the world.  

What kind of strategies are used most in marketing for travel agencies?

The strategies to apply will always depend on the product you offer, the competition that exists and above all, which is your target audience. Virtually all are used, SEO, SEM, Social Media, Mail Marketing, Affiliates … It depends a lot on the budget you have. It is not the same if you want to position or do a Google Ads campaign for Travel to Vietnam, which may have a lower competition, than to position yourself for flights or cheap hotels, where the first page is practically impossible and the cost per click is too high. If I were to choose a single strategy to do, SEO would undoubtedly be the strategy with the lowest cost and the greatest long-term benefit.

 

Does seasonality really affect your planning?

Without a doubt this is what affects travel sector the most. if you do not have a plan you are lost. You can not try to position Trips in Easter in March or April, yo have to start 6 months in advance to create the strategy, both product, structure and linkbuilding if it is needed.

The greatest burden is above all the product. You always have to update thousands of products, prices and different types of travel, because although the highest season is Summer you always have holidays or special dates such as Puente del Pilar, Blackfriday, Good weekend (in Mexico), Valentine’s Day, Holy Week .. And local holidays.

 

What is the market status of travel agencies in Mexico?

It is also a very competitive market, it is the sector with the difference that more bill and more transactions generates. But, as in Spain, there are niches that still allow you to be positioned as a travel agency. In the hotel and flight sector, there are the big players like trivago, booking, expedia, bestday and little by little other strong competitors are added in Spain such as logitravel or catch it. One of the differences of the Mexican market with respect to Spanish is the custom that the Mexican user has of postponing his purchases. Practically 90% of the ecommerce and, not only travel, gives you the possibility to pay with your credit card and buy directly to months without interest without doing any procedure other than payment.

 

Give us a tip to do international SEO

The best advice I can give for doing international SEO, apart from the well-implemented hreflang, is to create a unique content for each of the countries, offer our prices in the local currency and, in the case of Latin America, not want Start in all countries at once. Each one of the markets has its special characteristics, it is not the same to want to sell in Mexico than in Argentina or in Chile or Venezuela.