“People are less willing to delay travel as time goes on”: Travel marketing tips as demand continues to surge

“People are less willing to delay travel as time goes on”: Travel marketing tips as demand continues to surge

TORONTO — Marketing travel is a whole lot easier in March 2023 than it was in March 2020 – or even March 2021 or March 2022 for that matter.

“People are less willing to delay travel as time goes on”: Travel marketing tips as demand continues to surge

Scott Mitchell

But while Company A might think it can coast a bit on marketing efforts in these boom times – what about its competitors, Company B, C and D? They’re all promoting their travel messages and taking advantage of one of the greatest outbound travel markets the industry has ever seen.

As part of our ongoing series on travel industry marketing in these roller coaster times, Travelweek connected with Scott Mitchell, Managing Director, Vistar Media for his take on travel ad strategies. Vistar’s medium is digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising and not surprisingly, Mitchell is a big fan. “Within DOOH, there are several strategies that can be effectively applied across travel and tourism campaigns – a few of our favourites right now are weather triggers, seasonal promotions, co-op/regional marketing, and of course activating in contextually relevant locations,” he says.

We asked Mitchell about the prospects for the travel industry this year, how to promote discretionary spending on travel amid consumer economic concerns, and more.

TRAVELWEEK: Travel agents and travel suppliers have gone from the pandemic years when Canadians weren’t traveling really at all, to a sudden re-opening of travel and huge pent-up demand. And now that’s offset somewhat by consumer economic concerns. It’s been a whirlwind to say the least. What’s your take on the prospects for the Canadian travel industry this year?  

MITCHELL: “Despite many households cutting back on discretionary activities, such as leisure travel, some Canadians are still moving forward with travel plans. In fact, in a recent survey, only 32 per cent of Canadians said they had decreased their spending on travel/vacations since the start of 2022, down from 40 per cent who said the same three months prior.

“This shift in response is encouraging as it demonstrates that people are less willing to delay travel as time goes on. This opens up even more opportunities for travel and tourism brand marketers to engage with Canadians who are eager to get back out there.

“Further, we know that maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during weaker economic times is critical. It can even result in increased sales and market share during or after a recession. For example, which brand will people engage with when they are ready to travel again – the brand that they haven’t seen or heard about in the last year, or the brand that has consistently reinforced its messaging and value proposition throughout their everyday routines? More likely the latter.

“A recent Think with Google study found that only 14 per cent of leisure travellers always book with the first airline that comes to mind when they start their research. What this means is that brands need to consistently show up in their target audience’s journey to remain top of mind in their consideration process.”


TRAVELWEEK: Why is marketing travel different from marketing other products/services? What are the disadvantages/advantages?

MITCHELL: “In many ways, marketing travel is very similar to other products and services; however, savvy brands will be thinking about which creative and targeting strategies will garner the highest ROI – whether that’s a travel brand or another product/service.

“The creative opportunities for travel advertisements are endless. From a visual perspective, you can create eye-catching creative ads that capture the essence of a destination – something that not all products and services can do.

“On the flip side, we know some travel and tourism brands are working to rebuild relationships with consumers after a few years of limited travel. This re-engagement takes time, however, consistent investment in advertising, especially during weaker economic times, is critical to do so.”


TRAVELWEEK: What feedback are you hearing, good or bad, from your own travel clients/contacts?

MITCHELL: “We know that many travel and tourism companies are still recouping after a few years of limited travel and that consumer interest in travel is coming back up. In fact, the travel sector in 2022 actually experienced the highest bounce back in Canada, amongst other growing trends, being up more than 700 per cent from the year prior. With that, the time to invest in advertising is now – and we are seeing our clients agree with that sentiment. Vistar Media, for instance, saw a 100% increase in YoY DOOH spend among travel and tourism advertisers in 2022.”


TRAVELWEEK: Say a travel company wants to launch an ad campaign, but they don’t want to appear insensitive to Canadians’ economic concerns. What’s your advice for that client?

MITCHELL: “The underlying consideration right now across all industries, including travel and tourism, is price-conscious messaging. In fact, this mindfulness around consumer priorities and a focus on value-based messaging are more relevant than ever. Highlighting deals and promotions is one way to best serve your target audience right now. The general population is not looking to see a digital screen with a top-tier, luxury package. That’s why it is critical to be mindful of your audience’s shifting needs.”

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