The Travel Boom is Coming – What’s Your Ad Strategy?

The world is reopening and millions will be venturing out on vacations—that means a major opportunity for travel brands

The Travel Boom is Coming – What’s Your Ad Strategy?

4 Min Read

“Travel is recovering pretty quickly. I don’t know if we’ll need to market very strongly in the summer.” That’s a quote from a major airline executive, and it sets the tone for the coming deluge of travelers looking to book trips. 

There’s an enormous lack of doubt that this year will be the one travel brands start raking in the revenue. After weathering the worst days of a tumultuous pandemic, they’re eager to start seeing business flow and travelers book, fly, and drive their way to distant destinations. 

But if you’re a travel marketer, don’t let that lull you into passivity. The sentiment in that airline exec’s quote might capture the excitement and anticipation of the travel industry, but it can also lead to a lot of missed opportunities. 

Interest Never Faded

Travel shoppers have spent the past year researching, planning, and waiting for their chance to book their next trip. 

“No one was traveling, but the engagement rates of travel content have been high for a year,” Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global, told AdAge in an interview. That level of engagement will turn into conversions now and as the year progresses. 

Pent up demand is high, and unlike other recent occurrences of economic uncertainty, many consumers with disposable income were able to save money. This means there are highly-motivated shoppers with money to burn—a travel marketer’s dream. But it won’t be as easy as you think because the competition for those travel dollars will be fierce.

Big Money Will Be in Play

You don’t want to rest on your laurels right now. This is a time when your competitors are ramping budgets, plotting strategies, and looking to claim as many travel dollars as possible. And so should you, because there are some major players that are taking last year’s lessons to heart. 

“COVID was a reset in many ways in that it made us fully and truly appreciate travel—we had always taken it for granted,” said Shiv Singh, senior VP and general manager of brand for Expedia. “Travel has become much more personal now and that served as a big impetus for us to think hard about what we want the Expedia brand to be and represent in the future.”

Expedia ran a major ad blitz across TV and digital channels to get their name at the top of travelers’ consideration set. They spent more on advertising at the time of that campaign’s launch than in the past five years. 

That’s what you’re up against. So you better be ready to spend, and spend wisely. So how do you do that, exactly?

Look to Connected TV, Because Your Audience Already Is

You have a good sense of which ad channels have traditionally performed well for you. But with Expedia laying down a gauntlet, along with countless other travel brands doing the same, you need to re-evaluate your ad strategy. 

You will need to expand beyond the usual playbook and not rely just on paid search and social. Paid search will be expensive due to competition, and it lacks a visually appealing ad format that can help your brand grab your audiences’ attention. Social video has the visual appeal, but CPMs are rising back to pre-pandemic levels, with Facebook’s rising 30% year over year. 

Connected TV checks all the boxes of an effective ad channel—it has engaging ads, you can target the exact audience you want, and measure campaign performance. More viewers are streaming television now than ever before, and you can use CTV as an effective performance ad channel that can not only raise awareness, but drive conversions. It even comes complete with detailed cross-device reporting capabilities, so you’ll know when a shopper sees your ad on TV then books on another household device.

Importantly, CTV ads are making an impact with travel shoppers. According to a new report from Magnite:

  • 59% are more likely to consider a travel brand advertised on CTV vs. linear television.
  • 56% said travel ads on CTV are a key source of inspiration, information, and ideas.
  • 65% of those who saw a travel ad on CTV ended up visiting the advertiser’s website.

Connected TV acts as that long sought after third performance channel, and this is a great opportunity to use it to drive extra revenue. The competition will be strong, and you’ll need ads that not only stand out from the noise but drive shoppers to take action. We expect this is the year that travel brands who experiment with Connected TV will not only find success, but an effective ad channel they can rely on now and into the future for campaigns that need to deliver.