Blog Post

Digital Advertising Tactics Guide for Travel Marketers

07/15/2021 - Liz Cerrone

The travel category is commoditized and highly competitive, with aggressive marketers for brands, OTAs, and third-party booking sites spending hundreds of millions of dollars in media.

Brands like Trivago, JetBlue, and Hyatt are spending as much as $65 million a year in advertising. eMarketer reports that travel marketers are expected to spend over $10 Billion across digital channels alone. Travel brands focus heavily on the category’s transactional dimensions — price, reviews, loyalty perks — leaving no white space for brands who can’t or don’t want to outspend the competition.

So how can travel brands cut through the clutter in a category where you can’t simply buy your way to success? Our approach is to help travel brands connect with customers begins with a proven formula that combines a data-driven planning discipline with flawless execution across programmatic, search, social, and beyond.

The following is a guide to must-try digital advertising tactics to help you strengthen your brand’s customer engagement and acquisition in today’s ever-more-competitive travel landscape.

​​CRM and Look-a-Like Audience Targeting 

Onboard first-party CRM  data to target and customize ads to travelers and utilize Look-a-Like (LAL)  targeting to find new  prospects that look and behave more like your most valuable customers (using CRM data and/or pixel data).


  • Personalized advertising experience – Customize ads using real-time  behavior and data points drives over 50% higher  engagement.
  • Higher engagement – Send users to the right pages  and actions by pinpointing  user intent helps boost engagement and conversions.
  • Uncover new customers – Extend reach and increase performance with “look-a-  like” audiences.

Location-Based Targeting

Create custom location-based audiences by setting a specific radius that can be targeted on display or mobile devices. This gives marketers the ability to target people who are currently at or have previously traveled to a specific destination.


  • Connect with consumers  throughout the customer journey – Use custom geo-fences to  target consumers before they  arrive at a location, while they’re at a location, and after  they leave a location
  • Convert impulse buyers – Location-based targeting removes barriers to sales. When a prospect is physically close to your location, you have a much better chance of persuading them to purchase from you.
  • Outsmart the competition – Utilize location data to identify consumers who have previously traveled to a similar resort, hotel, or city to pursued them to book with you for their next trip.

Adaptive Segmentation

Develop custom segments based on observed behaviors to reach the most qualified audience segment(s). Segment consumers who have visited your booking site(s) multiple times, and/or abandoned the booking cart to reach mid and bottom-funnel prospective customers. In a similar way, you can segment consumers who have clicked on ads but have not yet converted.


  • Create precise audiences – Define and size granular segments using historical data.
  • Be there when it counts – Activate audiences quickly and benefit from audience real-time updates as your consumers interact with your brand.
  • Make smarter decisions- Fuel campaigns with customer  insights and with campaign performance data to optimize performance.

Site Retargeting

Use pixel-based retargeting to reach consumers who have previously visited or engaged with your website, researched booking, and/or requested information as they’re continuing their travel planning.


  • Engage lower funnel consumers – Reach and convert previous site visitors and shopping cart abandoners.
  • Improve cost-effectiveness – With retargeting, you are reaching consumers who have already been to your website at least once, and are that much closer to taking action.
  • Drive brand awarenessPromote brand familiarity and trust by keeping your brand in front of consumers who have previously engaged with your brand.

Behavioral Targeting

Leverage web search, purchase history, mobile app ownership, and web visit data to create deliver brand messaging to consumers who have shown the most interest in your brand.


  • Convert more – Customizing ads using real-time behavior and data points drives over 50% higher engagement.
  • Drive higher engagement – Sending users to the right pages and actions by pinpointing user intent helps boost conversions by 6X.
  • Help uncover new customers – Identifying ”behave-a-likes”  helps to increase performance lift over 150%.

Private Marketplace Advertising

As the focus on the quality of ad placement rises, PMPs have become more desirable. PMPs give advertisers access to inventory before it becomes available in the open marketplace. Advertisers can partner directly with publishers to create a program that meets their exact needs,  without forgoing the power of programmatic.


  • Increased control – Negotiate CPMs and buy a  specific type or amount of impressions across a pre-defined set of publishers.
  • More safeguards – Pick and choose publishers that meet our brand safety and contextual guidelines.
  • Better efficiency – Reach your audience across publishers that have driven proven ROI.

Dynamic Creative Optimization 

Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is a  technology that creates personalized ads based on data about the viewer at the moment of ad serving. Because the creative is continually tested it often outperforms static display ads.


  • Dynamic content – Feature top-selling offers and personalize content based on geographic location and weather data.
  • A/B testing – Dynamic Creative allows necessary creative testing and revamping in ways that  traditional A/B testing cannot deliver.
  • Creative process efficiency – The creative process is much more efficient with DCO build technology.

Paid Search Broad Match

Broad Match is the keyword match type that allows you to reach the widest audience via search. When using Broad Match, your ads are eligible to appear whenever a user searches any word in your key phrase, in any order.


  • Keyword discovery – Broad Match keywords help you find new keywords to add to your campaigns. In particular, Broad Match can inform Exact Match keywords when you are first starting out.
  • Cost savings – Broad Match will optimize campaigns to avoid wasted ad spend. Non- or low-performing keywords will be paused so that you can focus your time and budget on the keywords that are performing.
  • Amplify other digital efforts – Capture mid and bottom-funnel  consumers who have been
    warmed up programmatic,  social, and more in the moments  they are most likely to convert.

The Path Forward

As noted above, a successful digital advertising strategy for travel brands requires much more than a single execution tactic. You need a thorough strategy – a set goal, and a plan to achieve it. For travel marketing, that means getting creative  with data solutions by looking beyond out-of-the-box audience segments, marrying tactics that complement each other and selecting partners that understand your business.

Another critical component is knowing which tactics are working and which aren’t. Finding the best mix of digital tactics can be overwhelming and it may mean you need to rethink how you are reaching travelers online. The good news: digital marketing reporting tools and attribution models make it easy to get a  clear measure of marketing effectiveness tactic by tactic and campaign by campaign. Digilant can help. Contact us today!

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