Oct 29 2020
Basis Technologies

Digital Strategies for Tourism and Travel Marketers


It’s been a historically rough year for the travel and tourism industry. Travel has experienced a greater decline in digital ad spending than any other industry due to COVID-19, and U.S. digital travel sales are expected to decrease by 44.7% in 2020.

Despite these challenges, there’s still an opportunity for brands and agencies to advertise in a less competitive environment and take part in the $100+ billion of digital travel sales expected in 2021.

Effective targeting, messaging, and measurement will always be key pieces to successful tourism marketing campaigns, but efficiency is more important than ever while digital media budgets are limited.

Collect and Use First Party Data

There’s an overwhelming amount of third party data available to tourism advertisers, especially when it comes to travel display advertising. From in-market segments for flights, hotels, and car rentals, to weather triggers and historical location data, the options are endless.

However, the most powerful targeting available still comes from first party data. Take advantage of CRM lists and place site pixels to create segmented retargeting audiences and lookalike models. As the digital advertising industry moves toward a cookieless world, this data will prove to be more and more valuable.

Keep Messaging Relevant

The best travel ads take both the target audience and timing of the campaign into consideration. Use everything you know about potential tourists and their motivations to create impactful ads. Here are few examples:

  • A hotel advertising campaign that runs in November and December can address holiday travelers with seasonal imagery and holiday deals
  • A tourism board for a tropical island can advertise their warm winter weather to attract tourists from harsh climates during colder months
  • A ski resort running a year-long campaign can rotate creative messaging to showcase the activities and scenery available to tourists at any given time (skiing in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, etc.)

It’s also important to react to any negative situations in the destination(s) you’re promoting. If there’s a natural disaster or COVID-19 outbreak in the destination, consider shifting to a more inspirational or uplifting recovery message rather than putting forward an immediate call-to-action. This keeps your brand top of mind without coming off as insensitive or putting the public in danger.

Set a Clear Goal and Track It

To prove the success of tourism marketing campaigns, it’s essential to set digital goals and KPIs that align with your business priorities and then implement the proper tracking to measure against those goals. Brands that handle direct bookings—like airlines, car rentals, and hotels—may be able to back into a CPA or ROI goal needed to stay profitable.

For destination marketing organizations or tourism boards that have a broader objective to increase brand awareness or overall tourism, key pageviews and site content can be tracked to make sure the target audience stays engaged after being exposed to digital advertising.

In situations where tracking sales or website content doesn’t align with the goals of the campaign, brand lift studies or verified walk-in lift studies can be helpful in evaluating the success of a campaign.

With a thoughtful strategy, brands and travel advertising agencies that keep a strong presence in 2020 can position themselves well for 2021 as digital travel sales start to rebound.

Connect with us to learn more about Centro’s travel marketing services!