Travel Ad Spend Cut Dramatically In Wake Of Pandemic

Across channels, the travel industry is dramatically cutting ad budgets in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Comparing the first half of February to the first half of March, digital and TV ad spending tumbled by 44%, according to MediaRadar.

Year-over-year, travel investment in the first two weeks of March is down nearly 50%.

“Like a car hitting the brakes for an oncoming accident scene, the deceleration in ad spend in the travel industry has been swift,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO of the ad sales intelligence firm.

“Last week was astonishing for its speed of change,” Krizelman noted.

From the first week in March to the second, cruise brands cut ad spending by 30%, airlines cut spending by 27%, while hotel and lodging brands cut spending by 25%.

Likely in response to the Princess-Cruise quarantine in Japan, cruise lines began making sustained cuts to ad spending in mid-February, according to Krizelman.



This month, ad spending by cruise lines has been cut even more drastically, and especially among digital channels.

To a marked degree, airlines also began shifting ad spend in mid-February, while hotels have only recently changed their ad-buying behavior, according to MediaRadar.

Just in March, however, digital ad investment by hotel brands is down 96%, year-over-year, the firm estimates.

Of note, Krizelman is not seeing any shift in the ad creative that travel companies and their agencies are putting out.

As of this week, Delta Airlines is the only travel brand to have acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic in its ads, by MediaRadar's reckoning.

For the most part, hotels, airlines and cruise lines are continuing to promote destinations and sales.
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