The past few months have brought uncertainty and adversity worldwide due to the coronavirus. And while nearly all verticals are facing challenges during this time, the travel and tourism industry is first-hand experiencing a hard hit from the pandemic. Destinations and hospitality industries are putting their services to a halt and adjusting their strategies.
But what does this mean for your digital advertising strategies? How do you continue to reach and comfort your audience through these uncertain times?
To find out more, we sat down with Madden Media to better understand how they adjusted their digital advertising strategies for their clients in the travel and tourism industry.
Q: Let’s start with an explanation of your role at Madden Media.
Hannah Chute, Media Director: As a Media Director at Madden Media, I am responsible for building strategy and optimizing an assortment of traditional and digital media for our destination marketing organization (DMO) clients in California, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. My team of digital marketing specialists is trained to run all digital media in-house, seeking out new opportunities and refining campaigns to find the most effective media mix to match destinations with their most engaged traveler across all devices.
Q: How have you had to re-strategize your digital strategy for your clients in the travel and tourism industry as a result of COVID-19?
HC: Since many DMO and convention and visitor bureau (CVB) clients are funded by hotel tax, quite a few of our clients chose to pause media at the start of the pandemic in March. As cities and restaurants slowly started to re-open, our main strategy for clients was to focus on lower-funnel remarketing efforts to keep returning travelers engaged and interested in the destination. We developed inspirational messaging with our focus around outdoor offerings in drive-markets. For the clients willing to add prospecting to their mix we used CTV, display, and social media to reach potential travelers in drive markets since user engagement on these devices steadily increased while families stayed at home.
Q: What kind of response and results are you seeing as a result of these new digital advertising strategies?
HC: Overall, many of our clients have seen great engagement with outdoor-focused creative in drive markets across video through connected TV and display prospecting and remarketing initiatives. Traverse City, MI is a wonderful example of how they continued to inspire travelers through the pandemic which directly impacted their organic growth and increased their average daily rate (ADR) up to 23 percent (while other big destinations have only seen a decrease in ADR and room nights).
Q: For your clients in the travel and tourism industry, what kind of strategies and tactics will you use?
HC: We like to have a media assortment of our tried and true tactics which include search, display, video, and social. Prospecting video is a great tactic to run for destinations with beautiful videos and display is a simple media strategy that doesn’t require too much creative support.
Q: How has Choozle helped you execute your campaigns and strategies for clients in the travel and tourism industry during COVID-19?
HC: Choozle’s connected TV and display remarketing offerings have made it seamless for our clients to reach users with travel intent while they are sitting on the couch watching their favorite shows. We’ve been able to deliver millions of views and impressions to travelers showcasing destinations all over the U.S., and then remarketing users so they can plan their trip on the DMO website.
Q: How have these strategies helped improve your campaigns and performance?
HC: We have seen incredible engagement with our social media tactics and an impressive reach with connected TV. With inspiring messages, videos, and display ads, we have actually seen increases in organic traffic YoY during the pandemic for our clients like Traverse City, MI that has seen an 11.14 percent increase in new organic site visitors from June-August compared to 2019, and Discover Crystal River, FL which has seen a 50.84 percent increase in new organic site visitors from June-August compared to 2019.
Q: Do you feel like you’ll need to continue these strategies for your travel clients as we move towards a post-pandemic timeframe?
HC: Safety will always be the top priority and concern for travelers even after travel restrictions are lifted. Until we have a vaccine, destinations will need to continue to push safety marketing messages with an emphasis on their outdoor activities to show travelers how to safely plan a road trip with the family. Many of these core marketing strategies include targeting drive markets and inspiring lower-funnel audiences to attract people that are already familiar with the destination to take a trip back.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face when implementing digital advertising for clients in the travel and tourism industry during COVID-19? Are you preparing for anything for a post-pandemic time?
HC: The main challenge to digital media during this time is to be very careful with messaging and targeting. In a post-pandemic time, safety will still be very important; building messaging and engaging content around destination safety and accessibility is a top priority in both paid media and organic content. Search and remarketing media efforts may also be more expensive since demand is lower and it takes more touchpoints to get a traveler to the destination. As travel restrictions open up, marketing efforts are going to need to shift from mainly remarketing tactics to heavy prospecting tactics to further mitigate site traffic losses during the pandemic.
Q: Any final thoughts?
HC: Choozle has been an incredible partner to Madden Media with top-notch support, strategy, and pricing recommendations for many of our clients. They have a wide range of great CTV placements and always make sure campaigns perform above average.
Hannah jumped into the world of digital marketing with her first role working BPO for Facebook as a Marketing Expert: helping people use the platform to accomplish their e-commerce and online marketing goals. Now only two years later she’s been promoted twice to Director responsible for developing strategy and analyzing performance in many different DSPs. In her free time you can find her hopping around to different breweries, taking a yoga class, and every once-in-awhile catching up on mindless but entertaining reality tv.