By: Arialdo Piatti, MD and Head of Product, travel audience, an Amadeus Company
Even as economies around the world begin to roll out vaccination programs, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the travel industry has been profound. The number of available destinations can change daily depending on where you are traveling from, and visitors may wish to shorten or extend their stays depending on changing travel regulations. Destinations Marketing Organisations (DMOs) hoping to attract visitors to their region have found that visitor demographics have changed, requiring new strategies to capture visitor interest.
Throughout the pandemic, looking at the search and booking data from online travel agents confirmed that many people still had a desire to travel and were searching for new travel experiences, even during lockdowns. This same insight allows destination marketers to target potential visitors who have searched for specific destinations with highly targeted online advertising; this can help to grow the demand for these destinations, and the advertising campaigns can also be used to provide up-to-date travel information directly to the visitors.
Inform, Then Attract
This is illustrated by a campaign that travel audience, an Amadeus company, ran for Marketing Greece, the DMO for Greece, in the summer of 2020. The campaign began raising awareness of the country as a holiday destination by targeting visitors through digital advertising with a #StaySafe tagline, reminding them to stay at home while travel was still impossible due to lockdowns. This messaging was changed to a #SeeYouSoon message once international borders were opened to tourists, reinforcing the guidelines set by national authorities.
After this campaign, Greece received more attention from prospective visitors in the autumn than it had in past years. Greece’s peak season is usually the summer season but in 2020, searches for holidays in the autumn months showed that the relative demand share that Greece held among European destinations was higher than it was in 2019. The campaign generated a 0,26% Click-through Rate (CTR) for the display ads. The video ads fared even better with an amazing 0,73% CTR across 7 weeks. This resulted in a 25% market share increase for Greece when compared to other destinations in Southern Europe.
The success of the campaign was confirmed as 43% of travelers booking a trip to Greece did so within two days of seeing the advertising outreach, ultimately helping to sustain the destination and reduce concerns about overcrowding by targeting different segments of travellers at different times.
The online search data was helpful in identifying interested visitors for online advertising, but it is also extremely important in helping destinations to identify the markets they are competing with. As part of this campaign, travel audience was able to analyse visitor search behaviour to identify top search markets. This analysis showed that different Greek islands were competing against each other for a dominant market share, rather than other countries, allowing Marketing Greece to plan their strategy accordingly.