When it comes to travel marketing, the likes of Google, Facebook and Instagram are the obvious platform choices for brands and advertisers. Suggest Bing Ads to a marketing manager here in the UK and you’ll probably be slapped all the way back to your intern days.

Which is fine. Because the UK travel marketers who rule out Bing as an advertising platform make it a stronger option for the rest of us. And Microsoft’s search engine really is growing here in the UK, but without getting the kind of attention it probably should. So could Bing be the dark horse for UK travel marketers who want to jump ahead of the competition?

We’ll let the stats do the talking from here.

Bing Voice Search is rapidly growing for UK travel queries

Last month, Bing Ads came out with some impressive stats on its search growth in the UK. Take a look at these juicy numbers:

  • Year-on-year increase of 343% in voice searches for hotels
  • Year-on-year increase of 277% in voice searches for flights

To be clear, these are voice searches from British people looking for hotels and flights in destinations around the world, not people searching about the UK.

Those stats are pretty incredible for a number of reasons. First of all, it highlights Bing’s search growth here in the UK – estimated to be 20% of all UK searches in studies last year. This comes at a time when Google’s search market share is declining (-0.02%), but this counts for searches of all kind.

What’s interesting about these latest figures from Bing Ads (aside from them being specific to the UK and travel industry) is they reveal a surprisingly rapid adoption of voice search on Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant.

Is Microsoft edging ahead in voice search?

Last year, Bing revealed that 25% of all searches on its platforms were voice queries. This announcement came the same month Google told us that 20% of mobile searches on its platforms were voice queries, which doesn’t account for any other devices.

It’s worth noting that all of these stats about Microsoft’s voice search growth come before it releases its own rival to Amazon Echo and Google Home. More importantly, though, it’s the kind of queries we’re talking about here. Both Google and Amazon are struggling to turn voice searches into consumer leads but these latest figures from Bing suggest Cortana is already doing this – at least for travel.

It won’t be long until Microsoft Cortana devices make it into our homes and this is where search market share will start to get really interesting. We’re not going to speculate on what may or may not happen, but Bing’s current growth rate makes it a platform that travel marketers in the UK want to take a seriously.

Bing Ads often gets overlooked for its modest userbase compared to Google but we’re still talking about 37 million travel searches per month from the US alone, according to comScore data. And that includes 28 million travel searches you won’t be able to reach on Google platforms. Bing also has a reputation for lower CPCs than AdWords and its US users spend 25% more than the average internet searcher.

That means you’re paying less for leads that spend more on a platform many travel marketers don’t even take seriously. So, if you’re not advertising with Bing Ads, now might be a good time to reconsider your travel marketing platforms.