When booking travel, only 9% of Americans have a brand they “always” want to book with. What does that mean for travel and tourism advertisers? Great news. Advertisers have a great opportunity to capitalize on travelers’ open mindsets by leveraging data-driven targeting, reach customers at the right stage in their buyers’ journeys, and successfully convert them into purchases and/or bookers.
Still, with every opportunity also comes a challenge. Because every brand is on an equal playing field, it can be more difficult to differentiate yourself enough to get a leg up on the competition. You have to work hard to get that extra relevant touchpoint or timely outreach that sways a consumer to engage with your brand.
And how do you do so? First and foremost, it’s essential for advertisers to understand today’s travel landscape. The pandemic has shifted consumers’ priorities, booking timelines, and how and where they shop. Tactics used pre-pandemic may not be as effective in today’s consumer mindset within the current environment. So let’s dive into what has changed and what’s working well for travel and tourism brands in 2022.
Today’s Tourism Landscape
Authenticity is key in today’s tourism market. Customers are constantly inundated with ads and brand messages, which has strengthened their radars for fake and inauthentic brands. Customers are quick to recognize if a brand’s messaging seems odd, over-promising, or too good to be true.
On the opposite side, organizations have a great opportunity to put their brand values at the forefront of their messaging, as today’s consumers highly value transparency and quality brands. Beings able to demonstrate how you value customers’ needs and opinions will go a long way in today’s environment.
The pandemic taught us that everything can change in an instant. Having the flexibility, agility, and adaptability to switch advertising strategies, messaging, and targeting is more important than ever before. If you’re still resting on what’s worked in the past, you’ll lose to competitors who are at this very moment testing and trying new ideas to win over customers’ attention. These are the dominant digital advertising trends to take advantage of now.
10 Dominant Digital Advertising Trends in 2022
1. Social Media Advertising
About 52% of travelers decided to visit a specific destination after seeing it shared by a social media connection. This is especially evident for younger travelers, as Instagram is the top source of travel inspiration for Gen Zers. The more natively you can incorporate your social media advertising into your target’s feed, the better odds of reaching them while they’re in an aspirational, booking mindset.
1A. Specifically, TikTok Advertising
TikTok falls under the umbrella of social media, but its rapid rise in popularity and usage warrants a discussion of its own. With over 1 billion active monthly users, TikTok gives you the chance to reach customers who are already in a discovery mindset. It’s more similar to Pinterest than to Facebook and Instagram in the sense that users view it as an entertainment-based discovery platform versus an interpersonal connection platform. As such, it creates a great environment to get your brand in front of viewers in a very natural setting to find new and trending brands and ideas.
To get the most out of your travel advertising TikTok campaign, be sure to use appropriate hashtags, geolocate posts, and combine both trending and original content.
3. Virtual Reality Experience
Many people still have varying levels of comfort with post-pandemic travel. A great way to either reach the aspirational traveler who’s still looking to embrace experiences from the comfort of their home and catch the eye of those looking to book with unique touchpoints that differentiate your brand from the competition is with panoramic videos, 360-degree tours, and other virtual reality experiences. This is a great way for you to keep your brand top of mind for whoever a traveler is ready to book.
4. Review Marketing
Consumers value other consumer opinions, and more importantly, they trust them. As consumers turn to your profiles on platforms like Google, TripAdvisor, and Kayak make sure they are up-to-date with images, information, and prices. Additionally, these practices help increase your SEO when consumers inevitably turn to “best places to dine in [x city]” or “best kayak rental in [y beach].”
Additionally, these platforms also typically offer advertisers the ability to target customers based on first-party data, so you can use data-driven targeting based on real-time travel interests or stages in the booking process.
5. Artificial Intelligence
As mentioned above, customers value personalized digital experiences now more than ever before. With AI tools like chatbots, you can provide 24/7 service, quick response times, and tailored recommendations to ensure consumers have the best possible travel experience with your brand.
6. Influencer Marketing
Just as today’s consumers value the opinion of other consumers, they too place great trust in the influencers and content creators they follow. As such, they also trust the products, brands, and services these people promote and suggest. By partnering with the right influencer — mega or micro — you can get your brand in front of the right target audience for tourism.
7. Location-Based Marketing
While consumers plan many aspects of their trips ahead of time, there are still countless opportunities to reach travelers while they are actively vacationing as they search and browse for “things to do near me,” “best brunch spots in [x city],” and “can’t miss sights in [y city].” When implementing your SEO strategy, use specific geographical search terms to increase the likelihood that your brand shows up during these searches. Be sure to also keep your content current and messaging relevant so that as customers are traveling and looking for things to do, your brand will show up.
8. Email Marketing
Email marketing provides a great opportunity to yield a high ROI (one of the best, at $36:$1) while also putting relevant information in front of consumers. Consumers are inundated with hundreds — maybe thousands — of emails a day, so the key to this channel is to make your interactions as meaningful as possible. This is accomplished through data-driven targeting promotions, booking updates, and tailored industry information.
9. Digital Audio Ads
Podcasts offer tremendous targeting opportunities across various demographic attributes. Travel and tourism brands can reach consumers as they move throughout their days and as they move through the different stages of their travel booking with tactics like sequential targeting.
And clearly, advertisers are seeing a benefit in using this channel to reach consumers. In 2022, travel advertising spends on podcasts more than doubled between January and February, climbing 112% to $2.6 million.
10. Video Advertising
Video content can be repurposed across social media, VR, and influencer marketing — so it may not be as expensive as you think. And if your brand doesn’t have the budget for a large production, lean on user-generated content and then reshare casual content such as Q&As on your own channels to grab customers’ attention at a relatively low cost.
Personalized Ad Experiences to Reach Today’s Travelers
In all of the above advertising strategies, personalization is paramount. Because there’s little brand loyalty in this industry, winning customers’ business all comes down to the experience you provide them. That means creating an emotionally driven experience between your brand and the customer that keeps them at the center of the strategy. It has to be current, personal to the consumer, and it has to be seamless across all channels.
Learn more about Digilant’s travel advertising solutions and experience here. And if you’re ready to add these data-driven solutions into your travel and tourism media mix, we’re eager to help! Get in touch today.