How a Travel Consultancy Goes the Distance with WordStream

May 3, 2018

For some businesses expanding their online marketing, the best way to bridge the knowledge gap is to leverage award-winning software.

For others, though, turning the keys over to the experts makes more sense.

That’s exactly what Travel Nation did in 2014 when they signed on with WordStream as a Managed Services client.

wordstream managed services case study travel nation

The UK-based travel and tourism company, which specializes in creating fully customized holidays to destinations all over the world, was growing too quickly for the in-house marketing team (of one!) to keep up with both customer demands and manage a successful paid search account.

Travel Nation used WordStream Advisor for a year, saw promising improvements, but ultimately determined that, due to some pretty unique business challenges (more on that in a moment) and the limited number of hours in a day, outsourcing their paid search efforts made sense.  

They decided to make the leap from WordStream Advisor to our Managed Services offering. This is their story.

Origin Story

“Travel Nation has been arranging bespoke, ‘round-the-world holidays since 2001,” says George Mirabelli-Montan, the company’s Digital Marketing Manager. They curate everything from fully bespoke round the world holidays to multi-stop gap years with a singular goal in mind: to give each client the trip of a lifetime.

wordstream managed services travel nation marketing team

Unfortunately, travel can be a fickle vertical, prone to seasonal fluctuation and at the mercy of an ever-growing suite of DIY vacation options. From a PPC perspective, hedging against search queries that lack commercial intent, developing remarketing lists, and generating compelling ad creative can be a huge ask, especially for a small, resource-strapped marketing department.

George manages all of Travel Nation’s marketing, the overwhelming majority of which is digital, with the help of her coworker Adam. This means just two people were responsible for:

  • On-site and off-site SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • And of course, PPC

And, as if that wasn’t enough to leave even an Einsteinian head swimming, here’s the kicker: Travel Nation operates in 3 different languages. “I also supervise our French and German marketing with support from our French and German web editors and a little PPC in those languages too,” says George, “The role itself is quite diverse.”

Understatement of the century.

Challenges on the Horizon

To optimize PPC performance (and alleviate some of George’s workload), Travel Nation decided to use WordStream Advisor, which is designed to make account management is painless as possible for busy marketers. And whatta ya know: it worked.

“We saw promising improvements in our PPC account after 12 months of using WordStream Advisor’s 20-minute work week,” recalls George.  She attributes a lot of this early success to the “supportive fortnightly calls from our account manager, which helped me make informed choices and gradually optimize the account.”

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While the software itself offers prescriptive, account-specific advice, it was the educational and strategic advice from WordStream’s in-house experts that sold George. “My account manager essentially provided training on how to use AdWords more productively,” she said. “I could see the impact we were making.”

Despite finding success, though, after a year of working like this, George’s role became more demanding. It was, at this point, that she decided outsourcing would be beneficial.

“I wanted to free up more of my time and get more done inside the account. I’m a strong believer in taking the long view with PPC and not implementing ad hoc changes without the strategy to back them up or to test them. I simply didn’t have time to do this.”

After entertaining the idea of hiring a digital marketing agency or bringing the role in-house, Travel Nation ultimately decided to switch to WordStream’s Managed Services offering.

The Conundrum: In-House vs. Agency

Aside from continuing to optimize performance, improve lead volume, and save time, Travel Nation was in search of a PPC option with little to no ramp-up required.

“It can take quite some time for whoever is managing our account to understand the nuances of our business and what we’re trying to achieve through PPC,” says George, “and training a new employee would have taken months.”

wordstream managed services offering

While other agencies were an option, WordStream’s Managed Services appealed to Travel Nation because they’d already proven themselves adept. “Not only did WordStream already understand our business, they had a hand in helping us develop our strategy, too. Between that and the year of positive results we’d seen using WordStream Advisor, it was a no-brainer.”

WordStream paired Travel Nation with a strategist on the Managed Services team who had found success with travel-industry clients in the past. Together, George and her new strategist developed a set of hyper-specific account goals aimed at reducing CPA.

Time Isn’t on Your Side, But We Are

When you own or work for a small business being behind the eight ball is inevitable.

For Travel Nation, even though KPIs were solid, routine account optimization like A/B testing and developing campaigns on new channels had to be put on the back burner.

That is, until Managed Services took over.

wordstream managed services travel nation holiday planning

“With Managed Services there is far less procrastination and much more is achieved,” says George. “Work on the account is no longer dependent on me carving out time.”

This improved efficiency isn’t limited to day-in-day-out account work: it goes for high-level strategy, too. Thanks to a streamlined, in-depth onboarding process, Travel Nation has played a pivotal role in developing goals and expectations. Because there’s a clearly defined roadmap in place, improvement and optimization are never hindered by George’s hectic schedule.

Managed Services affords Travel Nation (and a slew of other clients) the ability to apply maximum effort in the arenas where they’re equipped to succeed; WordStream handles efficient account growth, strategy, and optimization so you can focus on what matter most: building your business.

Focus on Growing Your Business, Not Your AdWords Account

Achieving peak efficiency is the best. Knowing that you’re pulling down leads or sales at the right price for your business is second only to them falling into your lap free of charge. But once you’ve whittled away your bad ads, pared back superfluous keywords, and further segmented your remarketing lists, the logical next step is maintaining this newfangled efficiency at scale.

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Unfortunately, achieving affordable growth—implementing new strategies without seeing your CPA balloon—can be a real challenge. Travel Nation learned this first hand.

“The genius of the 20-Minute Work Week software is what originally attracted us to WordStream. We chipped away at the seemingly mountainous task of account management with an element of strategy and productivity and everything was great. Until the mountain started to grow.”

After switching to Managed Services, though, the feeling of staying on top of everything soon returned. “The time saving is enormous,” says George.

“I’m able to keep up to date with the strategy side and suggest new campaigns to support new endeavors, but the burden of implementation falls on our account manager. It’s like having a specialist on our team!”

Well, sort of.

While Managed Services account managers work closely with clients, their status as a literal outsider offers a unique vantage point. “We knew the value of the continued, weekly input of an expert could pay dividends,” says George. “When our focus becomes too narrowed, our account manager is there to keep our successes grounded and correct the course if need be.”

Our Relationships Are Your Relationships

WordStream’s relationships with Google, Facebook, and Bing are second to none. While this has helped us establish a strong foothold as PPC industry thought leaders, the real benefit is to our clients.

“While we considered appointing someone internally to run our PPC account, we ultimately decided that WordStream’s relationship with Google represented a level of support and access we simply couldn’t replicate. Every time I read about a new release or change to AdWords, I can speak to her about what that means for our account and work towards implementing it.”

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Outside of relationships with advertising networks, which affords clients access to Betas and allows issues to be escalated to internal review teams post haste, clients form personal relationships with their account managers, too.

And sometimes, those relationships turn into valuable assets.

George told us that Travel Nation’s account manager “is passionate about travel, which is subtly helpful as she understands our business from a commercial perspective, but also from a customer’s perspective. She’s both proactive and well informed. She’s as excited as we are about improved metrics in the account, which just makes managing the account together more rewarding.”

Winning Together

It was a huge step for Travel Nation to fully outsource their PPC account but, per George, using WordStream Managed Services has resulted in:

  • More leads
  • Improved lead quality
  • Lower CPA
  • Incalculable time savings

“They’ve helped me overcome the inertia of ‘I’m-too-busy-to-think-about-all-of-this’,” says George, “which can become pervasive in small, busy marketing teams.”

This allows George and her growing team (in addition to Adam, the team also includes French and German translators and editors) to focus their efforts on creating great on-site, social, and email content while ensuring Travel Nation’s PPC campaigns are “always monitored, always being improved, and continually striving towards a stronger ROI.”

Learn more about how Managed Services can help your business.

Allen Finn

Allen Finn is the co-founder of Toasted Collective, a cannabis-focused digital agency. Many moons ago, he worked at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time.

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