Travel On The Rebound

After Sept. 11, travel was the advertising category that took the biggest tumble, with people afraid to fly and eager to stay in the comforts of home. But it's rebounding now, as evidenced by new campaigns, largely from regional travel associations.

The biggest campaign, from the Travel Industry Association of America, featured a television commercial by President Bush that was part of a recovery campaign that began with newspaper ads in eight markets. It was supported by $15 million raised by the Host Marriott Corp. and its supporters, who hired McCann-Erickson to create the advertising and make a $10 million TV buy for a four week run, according to Betsy O'Rourke, TIA's vice president of marketing.

While the TIA campaign started late last year, there are a number of new campaigns this year that suggest the recovery is really underway.

A multi-media campaign launches Feb. 10 for the Pacific Asia Travel Association, which seeks U.S. travelers. The backbone of the campaign is a 16-page newspaper insert that drops that day in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The insert, with a "See you in Pacific Asia" theme, carries advertising from PATA members, including individual countries ("Amazing Thailand"), airlines (Malaysia Airlines), hotels (Hotel InterContinental Hong Kong) and MasterCard, the credit card sponsor.

Another newspaper piece will run in September, according to Paul Cohen, vice president of travel and hospitality marketing for Enten & Associates/Bethesda, MD, the agency handling the account.

"It was originally scheduled for November, but we made a decision to hold it back until February," he says. "People weren't in a traveling mood in November and the last place they wanted to travel was Asia, so we postponed it. The budget hasn't changed since Sept. 11 and plans for next year have increased."

The campaign also calls for consumer and trade magazines, with full-page ads in National Geographic Traveler, Travel Holiday, USA Today and two travel agent magazines. A direct mail campaign will be run by MasterCard, which will send a billing insert co-sponsored by Asia airlines and hotels.

An online portion of the campaign includes links to video infomercials from PATA members and opt-in rich media email that goes out up to five times a month.

Bill Hastings, PATA's managing director, says the co-op program works well because it brings in money from 41 national governments and 2,000 companies to support the campaign. "Reaching the U.S. market can be very expensive with media buys in large fragmented markets, so the co-op program in key markets is a good approach," he says.

The European Travel Commission and the Caribbean Tourism Organization are also running co-op programs this year. Neil Martin, a partner at Donald N. Martin & Co., an agency that represents the ETC, says European travel "dropped like a rock" after September 11, with bookings down as much as 50%. A newspaper supplement ran last fall, because it was already scheduled. Now the organization is planning a campaign for March to promote spring and summer travel, the most popular times to go to Europe. Spot TV, newspaper supplements and radio will be used, Martin says, although details haven't been worked out yet. "They put in for the campaign and we put together the media plan and the creative and raise funds from the industry," he says. He notes that some countries are more eager to spend than others. Spain, Ireland, Britain, Switzerland, Turkey, Greece and France are the leaders, he says.

A campaign for the CTO is stalled because of budget matters, according to Michael Youngman, the CTO's director of marketing. "A number of governments have made commitments and the private sector has raised some money, but we're not there yet," he says, indicating a $16 million TV campaign will eventually run. "We're trying to get it off the ground by March."

He says Sept. 11 "galvanized the countries to come back and make a commitment." Independent countries like Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Aruba increased their spending after Sept. 11. "They need to get business flowing again."

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