How to Build an Effective Travel Advertising Strategy and ad examples
6 minutes read

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 vacation 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.

Create Ad Campaigns 1

Table of Contents

  1. Understand Your Audience
  2. Know the traveler’s customer journey
  3. Set your travel campaign goals
  4. Craft compelling ads
  5. Choose the Right Channels
  6. Measure your ads’ effectiveness
  7. Travel Advertising trends
  8. FAQ
  9. Conclusion

1. Understand Your Audience

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.

2. Know the traveler’s customer journey

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Booking: prospects are ready to buy plane tickets and book accommodation. 
  4. Experiencing: travelers are enjoying their vacation and making lasting memories.
  5. 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.

3. Set your travel campaign goals

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.

4. Craft compelling ads

Use High-Quality Visuals

Travel advertising relies heavily on visuals. Use high-resolution images and videos that showcase the destinations, experiences, and accommodations you offer. Invest in professional photography or use user-generated content with permission.

Tell a Story

People are more likely to engage with ads that tell a story. Highlight the unique aspects of the destinations and experiences you offer. Use customer testimonials and success stories to build trust and credibility.

Include Strong Calls to Action

Encourage potential customers to take action by including clear and compelling calls to action (CTAs) in your ads. Whether it’s “Book Now,” “Learn More,” or “Get a Free Quote,” make sure your CTA stands out.

Leverage Seasonality

Tourism is highly dependent on weather conditions, which creates three seasons in the travel industry: peak season, shoulder season, and off-season.

  • Peak Season (High Season): Summertime (mid-June through August), when demand is at its highest.
  • Shoulder Season: From April to mid-June and from September to October, when people still travel, but not as much as during peak season.
  • Off-Season: From November to March, when travel businesses experience a decline in sales.

Seasonality isn’t necessarily negative for travel marketing as it provides a clear perspective over the coming months. Stay mindful of seasonal patterns and trends to understand when prospects are most likely to purchase plane tickets, accommodation, or all-inclusive offers. Timing your creative ads and tailoring your messaging according to these seasons can significantly influence purchase decisions.

5. Choose the Right Channels

There are numerous advertising platforms available, and the easiest way to identify the most suitable ones for your brand is to look at 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.

6. Measure your ads’ effectiveness

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 vacation 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.

Travel Advertising trends

Staying up-to-date with travel advertising trends is essential to keep your strategy fresh and compelling. Here are some current trends to consider:

Sustainability

Sustainable travel is gaining traction. Highlight eco-friendly practices and sustainable travel options in your ads to appeal to environmentally conscious travelers. Emphasize efforts such as carbon offset programs, eco-friendly accommodations, and sustainable travel itineraries.

Remote Work Travel

The rise of remote work has led to a new trend: the digital nomad lifestyle. Many professionals now have the flexibility to work from anywhere, making destinations that offer reliable internet, coworking spaces, and long-term stays particularly attractive. Advertise destinations as ideal remote work locations, emphasizing amenities and lifestyle benefits.

Solo Travel

Solo travel continues to grow in popularity, with more people seeking independent and personalized travel experiences. Create ads that cater to solo travelers by highlighting safe, welcoming destinations, solo travel packages, and opportunities for social activities and community engagement.

Wellness Travel

Wellness travel is on the rise as more people seek vacations that offer relaxation, health, and rejuvenation. Advertise spa retreats, yoga retreats, wellness resorts, and health-oriented travel packages to attract this growing segment.

FAQ

  • What is the future of Travel Advertising?

    • The future of travel advertising is expected to be highly personalized, leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver tailored content and offers to travelers. The focus will also be on creating immersive experiences through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), allowing potential travelers to explore destinations virtually before booking. Sustainability will play a crucial role, with more travelers seeking eco-friendly options and companies highlighting their sustainable practices in their advertising.
  • How important is social media for travel advertising?

    • Social media is incredibly important for travel advertising as it allows brands to reach a broad audience, engage with potential travelers, and showcase destinations and experiences through compelling visuals and stories.
  • How can I measure the success of my travel advertising campaign?

    • Success can be measured through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic, click-through rates, conversion rates, return on ad spend (ROAS), and engagement rates on social media.
  • What are some effective strategies for off-season travel advertising?

    • During the off-season, focus on highlighting unique experiences and deals that travelers can take advantage of. Use personalized marketing to target specific demographics and interests, and consider promoting destinations that offer activities suitable for the off-season.
  • How can influencers help my travel advertising strategy?

    • Influencers can help by reaching a wider audience and building trust through authentic content. They can showcase your destinations and services in a relatable way, which can lead to increased engagement and conversions.

Conclusion

As seen from the strategy tips and information 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.

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Ana Predescu
Content Marketing Specialist who loves stories in any shape or form, be it written, video, or audio. Passionate about (digital) marketing. Cinema enthusiast. Cat lover. Most likely to laugh at bad jokes and make them myself.

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