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Travel is booming: Here’s how travel publishers can increase their web traffic

November 28, 2022

After taking a nosedive during Covid-19, the travel sector has been seeing a resurgence, with US travel spending reaching its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now the time is ripe for tourism industry stakeholders to spring back into action. Travel content publishers, in particular, are well advised to ride the wave and make significant gains by enhancing editorial and content tactics.

Vacation mode is on

According to a report by Mastercard Economics Institute, long-distance travel is witnessing a return to 2019 levels. Internationally, vacation travel bookings increased by 25% for short-haul flights and 27% for medium-haul flights, surpassing 2019 levels.

Additionally, bus travel has almost returned to its pre-pandemic levels. The spending on passenger rail is now only 7% lower than what it used to be. Finally, the spending on tolls and car rentals has increased by 19% and 12%, respectively, demonstrating the enduring popularity of car-based road trips.

Travel publishers during the pandemic

Advertising and publishing, like other sectors of the travel business, experienced a significant lull during the early days of the pandemic. Publishers who relied on advertising for income were also affected by this decline in demand. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that in 2020, 24% of media buyers, planners, and companies had paused ad spending until the end of Q2 of that year.

Fortunately, travel ad spend is regaining altitude in 2022, particularly in digital. According to eMarketer, travel ad spend saw an unprecedented 42.7% spike in 2021 and is predicted to grow by another 22.5% this year.

As the eMarketer data suggests, travel has a strong preference for search advertising. So, this recovery is boosting search ads as a whole. This year, search will receive 55.4% of travel's digital advertising spending.

While mobile ads remain popular, 41.1% of the travel advertising budget will be allocated to bigger screens like desktops, laptops, and connected TVs (CTVs). Most consumers prefer to make big-ticket purchases, like travel, on large-screen devices rather than on mobile.

Travel publishers are advised to focus on improving their digital assets such as websites, apps, and landing pages to attract customers and advertisers.

Travel search and advertising trends

The return of travel advertising happened faster than anyone had anticipated.

Pre-pandemic, eMarketer predicted that travel's digital ad expenditure wouldn't catch up until 2024. Now, forecasts expect $6.28 billion in spending for the next year, exceeding the industry's 2019 levels.

That’s not surprising. Our own data here at CodeFuel indicates that August, September, and October saw a 13%, 25%, and 16% increase in travel search queries, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

Search ads

According to eMarketer, search ads alone account for 39.8% of all digital advertising in the US in 2022. Furthermore, the travel industry is notably focused on search ads, contributing to 55.4% of the overall ad spend.

Considering how people often go about booking vacations, it's not surprising that the business has maintained its focus on search ads.

Consider the following: Travelers could consult up to 38 websites before finalizing their itineraries, according to industry surveys. Publishers’ goal, then, is to attract consumers' attention as they comb the Internet for relevant information and browse appropriate websites.

Display ads

The tourism industry's display ad budget is also on the rise, particularly for video ads. While display will only make up 39.2% of the money spent on travel advertisements this year, its share continues to grow. That’s primarily due to the prominence of social media marketing. Across the board, search and video will absorb the lion's share of travel-related digital advertising budgets.

How travel publishers should respond

With tourism back to pre-pandemic levels, publishers in the industry would be wise to invest in digital assets to attract both their loyal customers and new visitors online. Additionally, the rising travel demand also presents opportunities for publishers to draw in more advertisers and expose these audiences to their ads.

1. Encourage predictive customer journey with content

Utilize relevant and engaging content to assist users in envisioning their travel experiences. It all starts with possessing a solid grasp of the consumer journey.

Travel publishers can then create content that reflects that journey. Consider each step in this journey, including any touch points along the way where you can offer value through content and media. Understand how you can merge your client’s capabilities with such content.

Once you have done the research and assimilated the information, use it to create content.

There are many ways to do this:

● A blog series on what to expect when travelers arrive at their destination,

● An infographic that shows all the different activities available at the destination,

● Or even a video that shows how easy it is to get around once you arrive.

The key here is not just creating one piece of content. It's creating a collection of multiple pieces to make the content more engaging and valuable to your customer’s prospects.

It is essential to provide the end user with all the information they will require. Make sure to include any deals your clients offer that your readers may want to take advantage of.

2. Leverage user-generated content

Travelers love to be featured on blogs and social accounts. User-generated content can help travel sellers create a sense of community, build credibility, and strengthen their brand’s reputation.

Ask your client to advertise their brands by holding contests and encouraging users to submit their user-generated content.

You can show potential customers what they can get from your client by providing information from travelers who have taken their offers or followed their recommendations.

More importantly, UGC content can help draw visitors to your website and other digital platforms. Advertisers can reach out to their prospects easily.

3. Create experience-enhancing content

Most travel marketers spend their time creating content and ads about destinations and attractions. But a better way to think about the topic is to focus on what experiences people can have when they travel.

An experience-enhancing piece of content shows travelers how to get more out of their trip by providing them with new insights and perspectives into a destination.

For example, instead of simply showing them what are the top things to do in Paris, show them why the city is so special beyond that. Make them feel the magic. Show your audience the destination’s culture, history, and maybe even some of its architecture.

You can always take it a notch higher with augmented reality. Many travel companies are starting to develop augmented reality advertisements to promote tourist destinations or hotels through interactive experiences.

More than any other kind of advertising (print, digital, or broadcast), experiential marketing makes an impression on consumers that lasts. Combining experiential marketing with augmented reality practically doubles visual attention. This will result in better recall and more powerful responses from customers.

Bring those capabilities to your digital portfolio.

Investing in your digital properties

It's clear that the travel industry has been drastically changing over the past decade. The digital age has influenced how people travel, and it is also impacting how publishers strategize around their content.

Many are stepping up their content game, combining search, contextual, and video ads within articles, and even utilizing augmented reality to better engage users. As a publisher, harnessing digital innovations and putting together successful content campaigns should help you successfully cater to both consumers and advertisers.

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