River Cruising Your Travel Agency

Selling River Cruises Using the Bing Advertising Network 

Selling more River Cruises using the Bing Advertising Network for Travel Agents

Written By: Tom Ogg



In 1999 Microsoft introduced MSN Search which was the forerunner of Bing. Bing was formerly introduced in 2009 and has gained market share ever since. Bing also powers Yahoo and Aol search giving it a total market share of approximately 35% of the total search market in the United States. While Google is still king with about 62% of the search market, Bing should not be overlooked. Here are some solid reasons to take a look at Bing. 


  • There is less competition on Bing. By having fewer advertisers there is less competition for relevant keywords which translates to your ad getting better placement and exposure. Even the smallest of advertiser will see results from their campaigns.
  • Bing’s Cost Per Click (CPC) is approximately  33.5% (2017) less expensive than the same ad and same keywords as Google AdWords. With a reach of a third of the market, this equates to more bang for your buck. 
  • Bing allows you to target devices. If you are marketing to millennials targeting smart phones only makes a ton of sense.  
  • Bing allows you to choose what venues you would like to advertise on 
  • Bing has live personal support to help you get going and also expert support to help you maximize your campaigns. There is no charge for any of the support. 
  • Bing will pay you $100 when you spend your first $25 in Bing ads. This is like getting $125 in advertising for only $25. 


So here is how to open your Bing Advertising Network account. Visit https://advertise.bingads.microsoft.com/en-us.


The first thing that you need to do is either create a Microsoft account, or if you do have a Microsoft account, log in with that. 


Then the process of setting up your account will start. It will ask for your email address and then have you enter the password you would like to use on your account. Next it will ask for your name. At this point, Bing has sent a code to your email address that you must enter before you can start creating your account. Enter the code. Once you enter the code and hit Next you will be presented with a captcha that you must complete before opening the first of a series of questions about your account. Once your account is set up it is time to begin working on your first campaign. 


Bing gives you the opportunity to import your Google AdWord campaigns for use on Bing. Whether you do this or not, is entirely up to you. It kind of makes it look like it is a requirement, but it is not. If you do not want to import your AdWord campaigns just ignore the request and move on. 


When you click on “Create a New Campaign” you will be askrf to select what the goal of the campaign is. First you will name your campaign and then set your budget. You can elect to spend whatever you want on a daily or other measure for your budget. It is best to start out with a smaller budget so you can get a feel for what kinds of results you will get and at what cost. The Bing analytics are as good, or even better than AdWords. 


At this point you will select the area that you would like your Bing ads to target. While it looks like the default is the U.S. and Canada, if you click on “Let me choose specific locations” you can then select whatever you would like. You can choose the U.S. only, Regions of the U.S., states, cities, postal codes or a specified radius around a postal code, coordinates, landmark, or area. You can also target by time (where your targeted client is) by device type and demographic. Then you will enter your website address and your Ad group campaign name.  


Now it is time to add the keywords that you want your ad to be responsive to. This requires some research and thought. You want the best possible potential clients to see your ad so what keyword search strings would they be using? If you are selling a specific cruise then the task becomes much easier. You should avoid using generic research terms like River Cruise but be more specific with terms such as AMAMagna Danube River Cruise. This keyword search string indicates that a potential client has already done his or her research and are now focusing in on a specific cruise and are either shopping, or possibly ready to book. If you have blocked group space on a cruise, you should always use a search string that someone looking to book that specific date, cruise and itinerary. 


Bing has three different ways it uses keywords in delivering ads. The first is Broad Search and this indicates that your results will broadly match your keyword search string. This isn’t the best choice. If you use parentheses around the search phrase like “AMAMagna Danube River Cruise” This will indicate that you want the phrase to appear in a search string before your ad will be displayed. If you use brackets around the keyword search string like [AMAMagna Danube River Cruise] this will indicate that you want an exact match before your ad is displayed.  


At this point we are ready to create an ad for your campaign. Bing has moved entirely into expanded ads which means you get much more possibilities to create engaging content for your ad. Here are the key elements of your ad. 


Final URL Domain

You will undoubtedly be using a landing page that you would like to drive your clicks to. Depending on what your site is built on many landing pages have non-descriptive urls that may include indecipherable characters and database code. You have a total of 67 characters for your final url that your ad will point to. 



The expanded title allows you 30 characters per line and there are two lines. Unfortunately at this time you cannot carry more than 30 characters that might roll over to the next line in the title, so you must carefully plan the title for the ad for maximum engagement. 


Ad Text

Next comes the ad text or the message you want your potential clients to read and take action on. Your ad text has a maximum of 80 characters. 



Finally comes paths. Paths gives your potential new client a look at where they are going. Since your Final URL Domain may be confusing to someone wanting to click on your ad Paths allows you to easily create a simple URL that the client can easily read and make a decision to click or not. The URL would appear something like www.YourDomain.com/Danube/AMAmagna/. You can easily see the benefit that this offers. You are allowed 15 characters maximum for each path, but the URL cannot exceed 67 characters. 


Here is what a sample ad would look like. 


Cruise the Blue Danube on AMA Magna – Low Group Rates & OBC  

We have special rates on AMA 

Magna and On Board Credit.  

Click NOW! and Save $$$ 



Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are additional pieces of information about your business, like a phone number or a link to a specific page on your website, you can add to your ads. Ad extensions are free to add to your ads, with the usual charges for any clicks you get. Including ad extensions can improve the visibility of your ads, which can lead to more clicks and improve your ROI. Here are some of the more popular ad extensions. 


Site Link Extensions

These are great! Site link extensions allow you to link to more interior pages on your website. As an example You might want to link to other AMA cruises you are selling.    AMA Rhine River    AMA Rhone      AMA Mosele     AMA Wine Cruises.  You can add up to 20 different sitselinks to your ad. 


Enhanced Site Link Extensions

Enhanced site link extensions include at site link, but also up to two lines of text below it that offers further engagement. You can have up to 6 enhanced site line extensions on your ad. 


Call Extensions:

By using call extensions you can include a clickable telephone number that those on smart phones can immediately click. Call Extensions have the added benefit of allowing you to designate your ads as call only ads. When you select call only ads, website links in your ads are not clickable from a smartphone. Instead, your phone number is the only link that a user can click. Clicking on the phone number link will initiate a call to that number and you will be charged up to your bid amount (just as if the user had clicked on a website link). Call extensions are really appreciated by millennials. If you don’t want to display your own telephone number in the ad, Bing can issue you a forwarding number so that when one clicks on the forwarding number it rings on your telephone. 


If you do not choose to distribute the ad to smart phones only, then you will have to use a Bing forwarding telephone number so that those on tablets and P.C.s can click to call you. 


Location Extensions

While maybe not practical for a home based travel agent, this is a great extension to use if you do have a storefront. Your ad will display your closest location to the potential client and they can click on “Get Directions” to make sure that they can find you. A neat feature of this extension is the “Get a Ride” option. If someone on a smart phone clicks on this link it launches the Uber App and they can get an immediate ride to your location. 


Callout Extensions

Callout Extensions provide an extra snippet of text that highlights your website’s products or offers. This extension is not clickable and can appear in addition to your ad’s description. Providing additional details about your website can make your ad more relevant to potential customers. Each campaign and ad group can have 20 Callouts. Keep in mind that your ads won’t always show callouts and if they do show callouts, the format it appears may vary. Callout Extensions are free to add to your ad. Callout Extensions have a different color than the other extensions. Four items per ad may be showcased, and each Callout should have less than 25 characters. 


Image Extensions

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Image extensions allow you insert an image into your ad. Again, there is no charge to use the image extension you just pay the PPC bid that you have agreed to when the ad is clicked. Including your logo can really help your branding effort. Again, there is no charge for the number of impressions the ad gets, just when someone clicks on it. 


Other Extensions

While there are several other ad extensions available, these are the logical ones that travel professionals would use. Structured Snippet Extensions allow you to present non-clickable additional text to your ad. Review Extensions allow you to link to a reputable reviews site and display client reviews. App Extensions allow you to promote your IOS or Windows app. 


Bing Remarketing

Remarketing allows you to serve ads to people that have visited your website and focused on one, or more of your pages. Let’s say you have the AMAMagna blocked for a sailing on June 12th, 2020 on the Danube. If a potential client spends some time on that page you will be able to reach out to them with a remarketing program so that your ad will be displayed to the client as they surf the web. Here is how it works. There are 4 steps to launching a remarketing campaign. 


First you generate some code. Bing calls it a UET Tag. You simply go to the “tag” page on Bing Ads and create the tag (script) and then copy the UET Tag on to your website. 


Then you create your remarketing list. Using the example of the AMAMagna group offering, you would want to capture everyone that visits this specific page. 


Then you assign the remarketing list to one of your ad groups. Finally you optimize your remarketing campaign by creating specific ads. Let’s say your visitor looked at your 2019 group river cruise and also your 2020 one, you might create an ad that offers a discount for booking both within 30 days. Remarketing is a powerful tool for converting lookers into buyers. 


Contextual advertising is here to stay and is only going to get more powerful. Bing is taking market share away from Google and will likely gain market share. At this time it makes a ton of sense to engage in the Bing Advertising Network and cash in on the opportunity at hand.