You can’t rely solely on people’s wanderlust when advertising travel services because while it may keep your business afloat, it’s not enough to help you make waves in the industry.
Besides, people’s appetite for traveling is dependent on many factors and may decrease as a result of unforeseen events.
We’ve seen this happen when traveling took a hit in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is reflected in the industry’s spending data on digital advertising from previous years. While things are improving, a lot is riding on travel ads performing well.
For your advertising efforts to be truly successful, you need a combination of good strategy and creative ads.
Stick with me as I walk you through the steps of building an actionable travel advertising strategy, including identifying your target audience, knowing the customer journey, setting your campaign goals, and measuring ads’ effectiveness.
We’ll also look at 16 travel ad examples from big names in the industry that will surely inspire your future campaign creatives.
If you’re more interested in the ad examples rather than the strategy, use the summary below to jump to that part.
Advertising takes time, money, as well as other resources, so needless to say, the end goal is to maximize ROI.
The surest way to achieve this is by devising a strategy beforehand, meaning a step-by-step plan to reach the right audience and persuade prospects to choose your travel services over those of your competitors.
On top of giving you a precise course of action, having a strategy also provides a reference to assess your results along the way and re-evaluate the plan if need be.
Here are the key steps you must check to build a strong travel advertising strategy:
A well-defined target audience is the foundation of any good travel advertising strategy.
Just think what a waste of resources it would be to target users with no potential to become customers. Narrowing down the group allows you to focus your efforts on reaching those who would benefit most from your travel services.
Plus, with a clear target audience in mind, you can create travel ads that double as personalized customer experiences, proven to be more successful in converting to sales.
To define your audience, make a list of different attributes you’d like your ideal customer to have, a.k.a. build a buyer persona. These attributes can be geographic, demographic, psychographic, or behavioral.
- Geographic: anything related to location, including customers’ country, region, city, or even postal code;
- Demographic: population-based attributes, such as gender, age, education, income, marital status, and so on;
- Psychographic: personality traits, values, interests, hobbies, and lifestyle aspects;
- Behavioral: online behaviors according to browsing patterns, spending and purchasing habits, and many others.
The customer journey sums up all interactions a prospect has with a brand during the purchase process, from the first encounter, up until a transaction is completed.
Commonly, it’s divided into three main stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion.
However, a traveler’s customer journey differs from the typical model because booking a trip isn’t an easy-to-make purchase decision; quite the opposite—a lot of thought and planning is put into it.
I mean, would you buy plane tickets as quickly as you would a chocolate bar? Me neither.
So, the customer’s travel journey can be split into the following four to five stages:
- Dreaming: whether it’s picturing themselves in a gondola on the canals of Venice or sunbathing in Greece, all soon-to-be travelers begin here.
- Planning: even the most spontaneous people make some sort of arrangement for their trip, even if it only implies picking a hotel to stay at.
- Booking: prospects are ready to buy plane tickets and book accommodation.
- Experiencing: travelers are enjoying their vacation and making lasting memories.
- Remembering: this is an optional stage that comes after the traveler’s journey is completed, where you can consolidate the relationship with your brand.
Understanding this customer journey allows you to time your travel advertising to the most favorable moments, specifically when prospects are in the planning and booking stages.
Goals or objectives give your travel campaigns a clear direction and help you measure progress along the way, so you don’t lose sight of the value of your work.
To yield the best results, you should set your campaign goals according to the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, all qualities your goals should have.
A few of the most common goals that can aid your campaign’s success are the following:
- Increase brand awareness by getting your travel services on the radar of potential customers;
- Grow website traffic or attract new visitors to your company’s website;
- Drive consideration through campaigns that promote different travel services;
- Generate leads, whether that means new subscribers to a newsletter or prospects filling out a form to find out more about an offer;
- Boost conversions, a.k.a. make sales.
Well, not really. It falls along Spain’s northern coast and mountains. But the country has its meteorological particularities, as do all travel destinations.
Tourism is highly dependent on weather conditions. As a general rule, there are three seasons in the travel industry: peak season, shoulder season, and off-season.
Demand usually hits an all-year high in summertime (mid-June through August), known as the peak season or high season.
From April to mid-June and from September to October is the shoulder season, during which people still travel, but not as much as they do during peak season.
All travel businesses experience a decline in sales from November to March during what is known as the off-season.
However, seasonality isn’t necessarily a negative thing for travel marketing as it allows you to have a clear perspective over the following months.
Try to stay mindful of seasonal patterns and trends as you will understand when prospects want to purchase plane tickets, accommodation, or all-inclusive offers to specific destinations. Timing your ads and tailoring your messaging according to these seasons might help you influence purchase decisions.
There are numerous advertising platforms available, and the easiest way to identify the most suitable ones for your brand is to look where your customers are spending time.
Generally, the following three platforms are obvious choices for most businesses:
Google Ads: Running search or display campaigns on the Google ad network allows you to leverage Google’s massive reach and advanced targeting options to get in front of potential customers exactly when they are looking for travel services.
Social media ads: Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, advertising on social media helps you increase brand recognition and reach a wider audience at the same time. Plus, it gives you the chance to experiment with a wide range of ad formats, including image and video ads.
Email marketing: Email offers a direct communication channel with customers that you can use to send personalized messaging, as well as discounts and special offers. Besides, it’s a cost-effective marketing method that provides easily measurable results.
Even with a killer strategy up your sleeve, things might not go as expected. And even if they do, measuring the success of your travel campaign is vital to understanding how your ads are performing.
If everything is going well, you’ll know what to repeat with future campaigns, and in the opposite scenario, you’ll figure out how to optimize ads for success.
Luckily each advertising platform, including Google and Facebook, offers relevant metrics known as KPIs (key performance indicators) to track for the most popular campaign objectives. Hence, you know exactly what to look at.
Things work differently for email marketing campaigns, as you need third-party tools that also enable email automation to measure campaign performance.
On to the part everyone has been waiting for, here are 17 travel ad examples that succeed in capturing audiences’ attention in one way or another:
Expedia: Chase new experiences
Let’s kick things off with an industry giant—Expedia. These two ads from the same campaign work so well because they promote experiences tourists can have in Marocco rather than the destination itself.
The font pairing is a match made in heaven, and the copy conveys a powerful message when teamed up with the beautiful scenery photos.
Kayak: Group trip without the drama
This Kayak display ad gets the struggle of planning a trip with a large group of friends. No matter how tight the relationships are, it’s bound to be a bumpy road.
While design-wise, the ad might not be too impressive, the copy makes audiences feel understood, which is why I think it deserves a place on this travel ad examples list.
JetBlue: Stretch your legs, not your wallet
Moving on to a different traveling pain point, we have this witty JetBlue Facebook ad that promotes the airline’s extra option to have up to 7″ more legroom in coach class.
The simple illustrated design is elevated by the ad copy that manages to capture viewers’ attention and say so much with so few words.
As this is one of my favorite travel ads on this list, I couldn’t resist including a second Facebook ad from the same campaign, a video one this time.
Once again, the funny ad copy is the star, suggesting you don’t have to be a billionaire such as the likes of Jeff Bezos to get to space, which is a clever way of saying JetBlue travelers can get more legroom at an affordable price.
Carta Travel: Tailor made travel experiences
Pictures have the power to transport viewers to different locations, so many travel ads use them to do just that. This template is no exception, using a photograph of a beautiful sunset as its main focus.
If you’d like to create similar designs for your business, open this template in Creatopy and customize it with different elements from our extensive library.
Lufthansa: The joy of flying
The view from an airplane window has become representative of traveling. Many people pay extra money to sit in the window seat when flying or rejoice when randomly assigned to it.
The German company Lufthansa chose this specific image to evoke the joy of flying and invite viewers to click this half-page display ad promoting the over 200 worldwide destinations in their portfolio.
Air France: Le Rendez-Vous
This animated Air France display ad compares a trip in business class to an anticipated first date, embodying the french elegance and romantic spirit. Of course, we’d expect nothing less from France’s flag carrier.
The ad is also a lesson in consistency, as the brand’s distinctive personality is instantly recognizable thanks to the blue, white, and red color palette, as well as the emblematic logo.
Tripadvisor & Visit Orlando: Explore Unexpected
The Tripadvisor Facebook ad above encourages users to take a different kind of trip from the comfort of their own home—an interactive voice tour of Orlando.
The different shades of teal used for the ad’s design help it stand out on the Facebook feed, while the choice to use a single font ensures the text’s high readability.
Delta Air Lines: Your ticket to more travels
Delta Air Lines uses footage of an idyllic destination to catch the eye right before inviting users to learn more about the miles reward program through the CTA of this Facebook video ad.
The copy aims to persuade by linking the reward card to states of wonder, serenity, and inspiration, all of which can be achieved through traveling.
Hilton: Where the pets stay
Now, this ad will make a lot of pet owners go aww. I mean, it can’t be just me swooning at the idea of traveling with my cat.
It’s true Hilton is targeting a niche audience with this adorable Facebook ad that announces pets are welcome in their hotels. Still, even travelers outside the ad’s target audience are likely to smile at the cute animal photos and the pet-away wordplay in the copy.
Traveloom: A great stay is a happy memory
Is there a more effective way to advertise for hotels and resorts than by using actual pictures from the location? I don’t think so, as all travelers want to see where they will stay before booking accommodation.
This fully customizable Facebook template can be adjusted for any use case by adding and replacing design elements in Creatopy’s drag and drop editor.
Hotels.com: Find your perfect somewhere
Hotel.com knows how important compatibility between a tourist and its booked hotel is. So much so that they compare it to that between lovers, stressing the importance of choosing the right hotel.
The hotel description narrated in the first person by the personified boutique hotel immediately draws viewers into this upbeat ad. It is reminiscent of about me sections on match-making websites, further supported by the tagline Find your perfect somewhere, which sounds similar to Find your perfect someone. Overall, a great example of video storytelling.
Airbnb: Turn the world into a field trip
This colorful newsletter ad promotes Airbnb’s Field Trips, a collection of online experiences from around the world targeted at kids.
This time around, the visual part outshines the ad copy, as the bright-colored background catches the eye instantly, and the exciting collage image prompts viewers to click the CTA button that invites them to Explore Field Trips.
Vacasa: Make check-in a breeze
The vacation rental company Vacasa aims to increase app installs with this clean and sharp-looking newsletter ad that promises a stress-free trip experience where travelers needn’t worry about aspects like hotel check-in, home entry codes, or wi-fi connection.
Viewers get a glimpse of how the app looks thanks to two mobile phone screens placed on a color block backdrop, which is a great selling point.
Visit Greece: All you want is Greece
This YouTube ad from the Greek government succeeds in convincing tourists that Greece is the answer to all their wants and needs, whether that is an office with a beach view, a historical escape, or delicious food.
The classic problem and solution approach works here because the ad’s characters are so relatable that viewers can easily identify with them.
Wrapping It Up
As seen from the strategy tips and ad examples in this article, understanding and connecting with the customer is key in the travel industry.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new that you can implement when planning your future travel campaign or designing ads for it.
Let us know what you found most helpful, and feel free to share your own travel advertising tips in the comment section below.