Out Of Home DOOH Travel Marketing

Billboards to boarding passes: how to reach travelers through OOH

Vistar Media


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November 20, 2023 | 8 min read

Whether planning a cross-country road trip or jetting off for a tropical getaway, people today are on the move more than ever

Summer air travel in 2023 was up 10.4% over the previous year and is soon predicted to surpass 2019 levels. What’s more, 85% of US travelers plan to take the same number, if not more, trips abroad in 2024 compared to 2023.

While these trends show a promising rise in travel demand, modern vacation seekers have a seemingly endless variety of destinations, transportation options, excursions and other travel-related experiences to choose from — leaving businesses, like hotels, airlines and tourism boards in the midst of a constant battle for consumer attention. As the travel and tourism landscape becomes increasingly cluttered, brands must more deeply connect with consumers to secure space in travelers’ itineraries.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising provides just that — a highly effective, flexible and measurable way for travel brands to connect with travel-minded consumers in the real world at opportune moments throughout their day. This article will discuss how travel, tourism and hospitality brands can leverage DOOH to build powerful campaigns that stand out in a crowded market and make a lasting impression on their target audiences.

Reach travelers where they are

From airports and train stations to rideshares and retail locations, DOOH screens are everywhere — providing travel and tourism brands with an opportunity to surround consumers with relevant messaging at crucial moments in their planning journey.

Travel marketers can leverage large format DOOH screens (e.g. roadside and highway billboards, urban panels, bus shelter screens and sidewalk displays) to reach road-trippers, commuters and pedestrians with high-impact messages that make a big splash. Advertisers can also engage travel-minded consumers in contextually relevant environments, like airports, transit stations, malls and ski resorts, by utilizing place-based DOOH screens to build repeated exposure to their message and engage with their ideal customers without being intrusive.

American Airlines case study

American Airlines recently utilized the advantages of programmatic DOOH to promote its co-branded Mastercard and AAdvantage Loyalty Program. The airline strategically activated its DOOH campaign across both large format and place-based venues including billboards, bus shelters, office buildings, residential buildings, train stations, urban panels and subways to reach consumers at multiple touchpoints when travel was top of mind.

Enhance plans with data-driven targeting

Building DOOH campaigns that align with the interests, preferences and experiences of a target audience enables advertisers to better capture consumers’ attention, drive relevance and increase engagement. Here are a few data-driven strategies travel and tourism advertisers can use to drastically enhance the effectiveness of their DOOH campaigns:

Audience targeting

From road trips and weekend getaways to month-long cruises and culinary adventures, different consumer groups can have vastly different travel tastes — from the frequency, duration and location of trips they take, to the type of travel they prefer and related purchases they make along the way.

Programmatic DOOH technology enables marketers to create and target precise audiences at scale based on first-party data, behavioral characteristics or demographic traits, like:

  • Leisure or business travelers
  • Road trippers
  • Outdoor enthusiasts
  • Cruise takers
  • Frequent flyers
  • Loyalty members
  • Parents with children

By leveraging audience data in their DOOH campaigns, travel and tourism businesses can build targeted campaigns that speak directly to a specific audience and effectively reach those consumers with high-impact ads when and where it matters most.

Time and day parting: The incredible flexibility of DOOH allows advertisers to activate their campaigns during specific times and days of the week when their audience is most likely to be receptive to their campaigns. In addition, advertisers can build tailored DOOH creative to play at specific times of the day to further enhance the relevance and effectiveness of every single ad play.

Seasonal campaigns: From Thanksgiving to New Year's and spring break to Memorial Day, it’s no secret that travel demand peaks around specific holidays throughout the year. By activating targeted DOOH campaigns around major travel holidays, brands can amplify their presence in the lead-up to these events — increasing awareness, promoting special deals and gaining consumers’ favorability over their competitors during crucial moments in the travel planning process.

Channel retargeting: Research has shown that retargeting can increase conversion rates by up to 70%. DOOH allows marketers to tap into this highly effective strategy by identifying the device IDs exposed to a DOOH ad, processing and anonymizing these device IDs and making them available for brands to activate retargeting across mobile, display, CTV, social, streaming audio and more.

By retargeting audiences that have already seen their ads, travel marketers can engage consumers on high-impact real-world screens and safely retarget those exposed with sequential touchpoints — allowing them to build compelling stories that span the entire consumer journey.

Travel Texas case study

To increase awareness, intent and actual visitation to its state, Travel Texas launched a highly targeted DOOH initiative across key markets within the US. The tourism board targeted three distinct data-driven audiences — Gen X families, millennials and boomer travelers — and delivered activity-based creatives within each DMA, promoting daytime activities during the day and nighttime activities during evening hours. Finally, Travel Texas activated mobile retargeting to re-engage exposed consumers and increase cross-channel conversions — ultimately driving a 43% increase in website activity and 367% lift in actual visits to Texas.

Measure everything from travel intent to destination visits

Whether the goal of a campaign is awareness, online engagement, travel intent or actual visitation, DOOH offers in-depth measurement solutions that provide travel marketers with insight into the real-world impact of their campaigns.

  • Brand studies: Advertisers interested in how DOOH impacts their top-to-mid-funnel metrics can utilize brand studies to measure the result of campaign exposure on metrics such as awareness, favorability, consideration, competitive preference, message recall and visit intent.
  • Foot traffic: Foot traffic studies offer the ability for travel and hospitality brands to quantify the lift in visits to specific brick-and-mortar locations such as theme parks or hotel properties driven by DOOH ad exposure.
  • Online conversion: As travel bookings move increasingly digital, brands can utilize online conversion studies to tie their DOOH efforts back to online key performance indicators including website traffic & engagement, online bookings, app downloads and in-app activity.
  • Actual travel visitation: Going further, travel and hospitality brands can also leverage visitation studies to understand the way travelers interact with destinations, including data points such as arrival lift, travel time to visit, duration of visit, and visitor origin markets.

Tourism Tasmania case study

Aiming to increase awareness, consideration and tourism traffic, Tourism Tasmania activated a data-driven DOOH strategy across several Australian territories. To understand the full-funnel impact of DOOH, the tourism board conducted both a brand study as well as a visitation study based on verified exposure. The results? Tourism Tasmania was able to attribute a 30% lift in awareness, a 32% growth in consideration and a 16.2% increase in actual destination visits to its DOOH campaign.

Discover DOOH paradise

As the travel landscape continues to expand and evolve, DOOH advertising provides brands with a highly effective, efficient and measurable way to connect with consumers in the real world.

The wide variety of screens and real-world touchpoints available through DOOH provides travel, tourism and hospitality brands with limitless opportunities to grab consumer attention and surround audiences with relevant messaging at crucial moments in their travel planning process. In addition, the data-driven targeting capabilities of DOOH allow advertisers to launch more engaging campaigns that reach their audience at the perfect times to drive maximum relevance and value for viewers. Finally, the in-depth measurement solutions available for DOOH enable marketers to evaluate the impact of their campaigns on the KPIs that matter most.

Travel brands that harness the power of programmatic DOOH will be empowered to more effectively reach buyers with targeted messaging and build wanderlust-worthy campaigns that make them stand out amongst the competition and drive real-world results.

To learn more about how DOOH can help travel brands take their marketing strategy to the next level, check out The Travel & Tourism Marketer's Guide to DOOH.

Out Of Home DOOH Travel Marketing


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