A Roadmap for Reaching Travel and Tourism Audiences with Cross-Channel TV

After two years of global pandemic-induced conditions, concerns and emergency restrictions and regulations that severely impacted airlines, hotels and tourism programs, the travel industry is surging back in 2022. Bookings are increasing across sub sectors with consumers unleashing their pent-up travel fever — and the money they saved in 2020 and 2021 — on everything from cruises to theme parks to luxury vacations and more.

According to an industry report from Zenith, the travel sector is expected to grow 36.4% year over year, with advertising spend increasing commensurately. But with demand high and no shortage of options available for travel-hungry Americans, it’s imperative for marketers to maximize their investment by focusing on the channels offering the most cost-effective reach at scale – which means linear and connected TV.

Here's what advertisers need to know and do in order to take advantage of the booming appetite for travel:

Solve for Audience Fragmentation

With the sheer volume of television content, channels and consumption at record levels, travel and tourism advertisers are grappling with unprecedented fragmentation of potential audiences, hampering their ability to find their customers at scale and at cost. This is a particularly acute challenge for sectors of the travel industry with incredibly wide and diverse appeal, such as airlines. Air travel is projected to see an overall 60% increase in revenue in 2022, according to Moody’s, but no single audience is driving (or piloting) it. As an Amadeus report found, travelers are looking to book flights for everything from domestic and international leisure and business to luxury beach getaways to trade conventions to cross-country trips to visit family and friends.

With this diversity of travelers, airline marketers need seamless access to the over 300 million viewers across 120 million households in the U.S. in order to ensure their message is seen by every potential flier. With massive ground to make up from 2019-2021 losses and a huge revenue forecast for the year, it’s imperative for airlines to leave no audience base untapped.

Cross-Channel Reach

Quickly and effectively reaching viewers scattered across both linear television and connected TV at guaranteed scale is imperative for travel and tourism marketers and advertisers. Take, for example, the one tourism industry subsector that actually thrived during the pandemic: gambling and casinos. In 2021, the nation’s commercial casino industry generated more revenue than any year in the history of the sector, the American Gaming Association reported, breaking the previous industry record by more than 21% with $53 billion in revenue. Sports betting especially accelerated in 2021, jumping 177% in revenue in 2021 at $4.29 billion, due to the lifting of previous legal restrictions and the launch of new sportsbooks.

With travel and tourism industry forecasts projecting a continued sharp rise in popularity for casinos through 2022 -- especially given the launch of new commercial sports betting markets in states like Arizona, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming – marketers will need to pinpoint the most cost-effective impressions across premium inventory wherever potential casino visitors are watching or streaming in order to boost overall reach, deliver incremental CTV-only audiences and, most of all, prevent wasteful and expensive audience duplication.

Precise Audience Targeting

Leveraging best-in-class data partners like TransUnion, Experian, LiveRamp and Nielsen, to name but some, and the ability to reach first-party audiences at scale allows travel marketers to find and engage their targets regardless of network, show or service. That’s particularly valuable when the audience segment is affluent but niche, like the professionals still hitting the road for work meetings and conferences. Even as more and more companies endorse a return to in-person offices, the pandemic-era trend for business travel is a significant decrease that shows no signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels. So there’s fierce competition among marketers of the services aimed at this select few, making the capability for extremely granular audience targeting across the entire cross-channel TV landscape highly prized.

Flexibility & Speed

Like never before, travelers are making plans last minute, requiring marketers to similarly be agile in order to take advantage of consumer demand and to account for economic conditions as well as shifts in public health guidance both nationally and locally. For instance, cruise bookings had historically been made 6-12 months in advance. But now, with changes in personal and work schedules and COVID-19-induced capacity limits being lifted by cruise lines, last-minute availabilities are more plentiful than ever, with more deals and discounts than before. To fill those cabins and spread the word on the special offers, marketers need the option to nimbly adjust existing TV ad campaigns, or launch new ones, in a matter of days, not weeks or months.

Likewise, consider theme parks, one of the worst-hit sectors of tourism during the past two years. Researchers forecast a growth of 9% in 2022, but that’s again dependent on shifting health regulations, weather conditions and consumer sentiment among families with younger, possibly unvaccinated children. Knowing this, theme park marketers should seek out advertising partners and platforms that allow them to plan, buy and activate campaigns in a compressed time frame without sacrificing cost-efficiency, reach or effectiveness.

Transparent Real-Time Reporting

With pandemic-era shortfalls to recoup, travel marketers can’t afford to spend time sourcing and managing various vendors to help them plan and optimize their TV campaigns quickly and intelligently. After all, after two years of lockdowns and other hurdles, travel-hungry consumers are looking to satisfy the urge to get away to getaways, resulting in hotel bookings soaring. And as a 2022 Statista report found, 33% of consumers book their hotels online, on par with the increasing trend towards digital reservations. Hotel marketers should insist on complete transparency into all key performance metrics for both in-flight and completed TV campaigns. And advertisers should be wary of any partners that grade their own homework – or stamp their own passports.

Attribution for Outcomes

Travel marketers need to measure not only how their campaigns are doing in terms of audience reach and impression delivery, but also understand how their cross-channel investments drove the KPIs that matter most to their businesses, whether that means air or ground ticket sales, hotel reservations or car rentals. In terms of the latter, ground transportation is expected to grow 8.22% year-over-year between now and 2026, according to Statista, with 71% of total revenue to be generated through online bookings during that period. With the right measurement and attribution data and through partnerships with companies like Foursquare, iSpot, and TVSquared, car rental marketers can make the best possible TV buying decisions and adjust as needed to maximize the impact on online engagement.

Download our free Travel Marketing on Cross-Channel TV playbook for an in-depth look at the current state of the industry and how advertisers can engage potential travelers no matter where they’re watching.

Want to learn more about cross-channel TV advertising? Contact us or email us at advertise@simulmedia.com to see how our unique TV+® platform for planning, buying, activation and measurement guarantees full audience reach across both linear and CTV.