How Can DMOs Adapt to AI-Powered Search Engines?

This week, we saw announcements from Google and Microsoft bringing sophisticated generative AI to a wide audience through their familiar search browsers. These moves have the potential to change the way users interact with and gather information through their search browser, resulting in more queries being answered within the search platform and fewer search queries making it through to the websites hosting the content.  

Search is a key driver of traffic for travelers and prospective travelers to your website. On average, organic search accounts for 48% of all traffic to DMO websites. 

Here’s what these new AI-driven searches could mean for DMOs

  1. Change in the structure of your search traffic. Simple answers are likely to be fielded through the search provider. For example, “Which airport should I fly into to get to X destination?” can likely be answered in the browser, and those requests will never make it to your website — even if your content is used to provide the answer. This is a trend that began well before these new features, but we expect it to accelerate. 
  2. Listings and other statistical information will decline in value as traffic drivers to your website. This information is already so prevalent through the search engines, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and similar sites that the arrival of easily accessible AI may serve as the tipping point for DMOs to finally remove listings from their websites. 
  3. Conversational responses will likely bring in multiple sources to provide a more detailed response to the user. This allows the DMO’s deep knowledge of the destination to really shine as long-tail search results — which are searched for less frequently but provide deeper answers — become invaluable sources of context. For DMOs with rich content, this could be a boost to their traffic volume if users follow the cited articles from the chat window to learn more. 

Zartico’s recommendations for adapting your content strategy in light of these big announcements

  1. Continue your focus on specialized destination content that can’t be found anywhere else on the web. Use your deep destination knowledge to your advantage.
  2. Listings are dropping in value as drivers of search traffic to your website. It is time to phase those out. You won’t outrank Yelp, Google, Bing, TripAdvisor and others for this information. 
  3. Make sure you’re monitoring your organic search traffic to identify which articles on your site are rising in importance and which are falling. For Zartico users, the Website Content module will be a key tool to help you monitor changes in traffic.
  4. It will be interesting to watch how this impacts paid search. Obviously, Google  and Microsoft make browsers in order to sell ads, so they are going to be creative in finding ways to keep ads a valuable part of the search experience. It might mean that you will need to expand your paid search budget if organic search starts to slide.
  5. Consider adding the ChatGPT extension to Google Docs and Google Sheets to inspire your content marketing efforts. While ChatGPT’s responses will reflect content that already exists and would likely be returned in search results using the tools above, it can provide a thread for your content team to follow and develop with your team’s destination experience. 

We’ll be keeping an eye on search and traffic trends as these AI-driven products roll out of beta. As has been the case for several years, there is no substitute for a strong and diversified content strategy for ensuring that travelers looking to plan a trip to your destination reach your content.


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