More than two years after the onset of COVID, it seems that travel is—dare we say it?—reinvigorated, with consumer behavior and wanderlust returning to pre-pandemic “normal” once again. In fact, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projects that travel and tourism in the US will reach pre-pandemic levels before 2022 is over, contributing nearly $2 trillion to the economy.
But with staff shortages, canceled flights, and surging gas prices, it’s become more important than ever for travel brands to communicate directly to consumers—reaching out with tailored, reassuring ad campaigns that stoke their sense of adventure while also building brand trust.
It’s a tightrope many brands are cautiously undertaking ahead of this year’s travel season—one our team at Tremor Video is equipped to help you walk. To dive deeper into what the media landscape looks like for travel advertisers, we sat down with our Paul Harris to get his take on how these brands can best speak to consumers as the summer travel season beckons.
What signs have you seen from advertisers that they’re bullish about seizing upon this resurgence in travel?
No question, there’s definitely pent-up demand: consumers are itching to travel again.
Larger international travel companies have been back and in front of these consumers for months now, wisely seizing an opportunity to grab market share and stay top-of-mind as travel restrictions have eased globally. While it might be difficult for these larger brands to see a clear causation between increased bookings and their advertising campaigns, there’s undoubtedly a correlation between the two. The travel-focused brands that were quick to advertise again will surely see their market share improve (compared to those who were more hesitant).
That said, we know that travel plans are traditionally made 3 to 6 months in advance, so it might take some time for the industry to fully ramp up again.
In what ways were travel-focused brands forced to reimagine and evolve their media strategies over the past few years? What key learnings do you think travel brands are applying now, as the all-important spring and summer seasons kick off?
They say that within every challenge lies an opportunity, and I think the brands who are in a position of strength right now have capitalized on that opportunity during the pandemic. Some state and city attractions sought out local travelers within driving distance (rather than courting those who were reluctant to fly), for instance, and many hotels began touting clean rooms and keyless-entry messaging in their creative.
Historically, discounts have been one of the quickest and easiest ways to entice travelers—for hotel groups, airlines, and the like. With inflation on the rise and gas prices soaring, however, these could be tough to extend in 2022. Instead, it might make sense to amp up luxury offerings, as affluent travelers will be more likely to pay premiums (and they are ready for adventures again!).
With so much competition for consumers’ attention (and dollars), using data to engage travel-minded audiences is arguably more imperative than it’s ever been. What are three ways brands can ensure they’re most effectively using data to reach audiences and optimize their media investments?
There are so many data-focused strategies brands can employ, but the top three I’d recommend are first-party data, automatic content recognition (or ACR) data, and contextual targeting.
When it comes to travel, existing and past consumers should be prioritized. If you’re not utilizing your existing first-party CRM data to reach your “best,” most loyal customers, you should absolutely consider doing so now.
Additionally, if your campaigns include both linear and digital video components (as many large travel brands’ campaigns do), you should consider using the data from your linear campaign to inform your CTV and digital initiatives via ACR data. Whether you’re aiming to “retarget” viewers who have already been exposed to your message or just better manage frequency and reach, ACR can be among the most effective data sets to help you connect with consumers across screens.
And thirdly, embrace the power of contextual targeting. There are few (if any) verticals that benefit more from contextual relevancy than travel—having your ads appear next to travel-related content is an obvious win. Of course, don’t discount non-endemic forms of context, like food and wine or adventure-seeking. All of these areas of interest appeal to destination travelers, and they can all be great complements (and add additional scale) to your data-focused campaign.
Tremor Video helps a wide range of travel brands—from airlines to resorts to local tourism boards—bring their stories to life across CTV and all video screens. What are some of the ways that Tremor is uniquely equipped to advance these brands’ media strategies?
We’re alluding to an important driver of success here, and that’s making sure that—as a brand—you’re on all screens. The days of focusing exclusively on linear TV to tell your story are far gone. Consumption has become so much more fragmented: it takes multiple screens, each with their own unique creative, to bring a brand’s message to life these days.
The days of focusing exclusively on linear TV to tell your story are far gone. Consumption has become so much more fragmented: it takes multiple screens, each with their own unique creative, to bring a brand’s message to life these days.
With that in mind, we’ve worked with a number of tourism boards to craft and render unique creative based on screen type and data set—e.g., delivering tailored creative executions based on multiple data sets (demo, behavioral, contextual, etc.) to specific devices and/or screens. We’ve also observed travel brands using second-screen devices more and more to reach users with more actionable creative (especially following brand exposure on linear via ACR, as mentioned above).
OK, last question. What do your summer travel plans look like and where are you headed?
We’re heading to the Riviera Maya in Mexico in a few weeks and also plan to visit Prague and Budapest this fall. So if you’ve got recommendations, send them my way.