Travel Ad Engagement Rates Surge, Revenue To Follow

Engagement volumes (EV) -- the incremental increase in consumers' online interaction with ads in the moments after airing a television advertisement -- continue to surge online in the travel industry.

Overall EV rose 47% during the past year from June 2022 to June 2023, mainly driven mainly by increased investment from the Hotels and Resorts, and Car Rental and Sharing categories.

EDO, which provides data that connects the TV ads seen by viewers with what they do online afterward, has published its first Travel TV Performance Report, which provides insights into consumer engagement and advertising effectiveness trends from July 2022 to June 2023.

"The Hotels & Resorts industry faced challenging conditions in the last two years, but the category's top performers by ad effectiveness uniquely highlight the recovery of luxury travel," says Kevin Krim, president and CEO of EDO. "TV creatives for top five advertisers in this category focused on all-inclusive, luxury experiences with the exception being the number one performer, Great Wolf Lodge. It provided a welcome surprise in the data.”



Great Wolf Lodge, a national chain that offers indoor water parks for family getaways, was eight times more effective than the average brand in this category in driving consumer engagement in the last year, he says. Dreams Resorts & Spas and Luxury Escapes followed as the second- and third-most effective advertisers – both new entrants to EDO’s rankings.

EDO’s report outlines five of the most engaging brands for Air Travel, Hotels & Resorts, Car Rental, and Ride Sharing. It also provides insight into the number of airings, impressions, and total online engagements, comparing the data with the year prior.  

The study analyzes online consumer engagement, a signal predictive of in-market business performance, to uncover the $1.2 trillion travel industry’s most effective advertisers, creatives, and media environments during the past year.

From Q4 2019 to Q4 2020, estimated TV ad spend in the travel category plummeted 56% year-over-year. Hotels & Resorts advertisers, the top spenders in the category, slashed TV investments by 73%. EV rates followed close behind.

Overall, key stats for travel in the past year, ending June 2023 showed 397,000 airings, up 29%; 183 billion impressions, up 27%; and $1.2 billion estimated spend, up 15%, compared with the prior year.

The travel industry has slowly recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. By Q4 2022, ad investment in the category rose past pre-pandemic levels -- up 44% compared to the previous year.

This trend coincides with consumer travel reaching highs in the fall of 2022, signaling a strong return of travel activity after years of depressed or slowly recovering demand. Consumer engagement with ads followed. 

The travel industry saw an 83% increase in Engagement Volume in Q4 2022 compared with 2021, and a 61% increase in Q1 2023 compared with 2022.

These year-over-year increases are a likely result of the Omicron variant taking hold of the U.S. in Q4 2021, leading to decreased consumer engagement with travel ads. During the past two years, EV for the travel category peaked in January 2023, mainly driven by ad investment from the Cruises and Hotels & Resorts categories that were less active the prior year.

One top performer was Vrbo's 15-second spot House to Yourself. It was 500% more likely to drive engagement compared with the average Travel Services & Websites ad in the last year.

For cruises, the peak EV in January 2023 represents a 5x increase in engagement from the month prior, and a 105% increase from January 2022.

Most cruise brands take a hiatus from TV advertising during the summer months, instead investing in Q1 and Q4 yearly to showcase the anticipation and excitement of potential travelers as they plan their vacations for the upcoming year.

The Car Rental & Sharing category in terms of EV remained fairly stable from July 2021 to June 2022, peaking only slightly in December 2021 and June 2022. However, EV rose nearly 5x from November-December 2022, thanks mainly to a brand-awareness campaign from car rental company Sixt that aired across popular live sports programming such as NFL football, College football, and NBA basketball.

Marriott -- a top performer, according to the report -- ran a TV ad showcasing versatility and promoting various hotel brands.

It positioned the company to connect with sports fans. Its top-performing ad creative, as measured by Engagement Rate at 40% more likely to drive engagement, highlights the custom traveler experience with the slogan “Where can we take you?" With more than 500 independent hotels worldwide, the ad appeals to travelers seeking unique experiences and communicates effectively to a diverse group of today's travelers.

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