plane plain to see: Travel is taking flight once again!
As other verticals are reconsidering their ad spending, travel is maintaining its momentum, with brands upping their digital ad budgets by 22.5% in 2022 and expected to increase them by another 20.0% in 2023 (and then a further 15.3% through 2024). Although this growth is obviously pegged against a dramatic Covid-fueled collapse in 2020-2021, no other industry is projected to amplify its advertising investment comparatively to travel over the next two years.
The reason? Brands are continuing to tap into pent-up travel demand. Last year, travel-related movement around the US only partially returned to normal with the Delta and Omicron variants disrupting many vacation plans and preventing travel’s full circle rebound. Today, though, digital travel sales are back to where they were pre-pandemic.
Still, there are plenty of obstacles that may yet rear their heads—including rising gas prices, inflation, and economic uncertainty—so it’s important for travel advertisers to stay aware of macro factors and be ready to pivot accordingly.
When it comes to trends to know for the year ahead, there are three standouts:
It’s no secret that green initiatives are a hot topic in travel. Seven in 10 consumers have avoided a travel destination or transportation option due to skepticism around its commitment to sustainable practices. With such high stakes, supporting and actively engaging in eco-friendly and ethical practices can no longer be an afterthought for travel brands. Those that make bold moves now and then market their activities in a way that is thoughtful and genuine (i.e. no greenwashing) have the potential to become leaders in this niche—but extremely important—subset of the travel industry.
Travel advertisers should also look to prioritize digital promotions, influencer campaigns, and loyalty programs to keep consumers engaged during key windows of opportunity. The latter will be especially critical in response to increasing cost of living pressures. Brands have an opportunity to show empathy by acknowledging economic stressors affecting spending behaviors and demonstrating how they can add value in different ways. And, as a bonus, this will help foster long-term brand loyalty among price-conscious consumers.
The travel industry has traditionally been a non-conformist when it comes to its spending distribution across ad channels and formats, and that trend will continue into 2023. Indeed, less than 40% of all digital ad spending in the US will go to search ads in 2023, yet for the travel industry, that share is projected to sit at 55.2%. Travel’s emphasis on search is a logical consequence of how consumers plan their trips—typically doing so through multiple phases of research incorporating dozens of websites. Media buyers will need to maintain a strong search presence in order to capture audience attention as they poke around, and they should emphasize video placements on those platforms to help reignite people’s wanderlust.
Want to learn about some of the macro trends affecting digital marketing more generally? Check out our 2023 Trends Report to stay ahead of the curve as you plan for the year ahead.