In February 2020, it looked like the travel industry was going to have a great year. That month we tracked more than 200,000 airings as advertisers were beginning to try to tempt spring breakers and early summer vacation planners. Little did they know a global pandemic that was going to hit the travel industry harder than almost any other single industry was just around the corner. Travel advertising is starting to make a comeback, you’ve probably seen it on tv, and today we’re going to take a look at the trends we’re seeing.

Travel Advertising Trends

If there’s one type of travel that elicits a reaction from people post-Covid, it’s cruising. This is in large part due to ships like the Diamond Princess that were basically Covid incubators in the early months of the pandemic. To put this into advertising terms, we saw close to 10,000 airings from cruise lines in March of last year – as a reminder, the cruise industry effectively shut down on March 13th of last year – this year, even as things are opening up, we’re on track to maybe see 1,500 ad airings by the end of the month. The top ad, shown below, is basically an appeal to what has been called “revenge travel” or getting out of the house just to show 2020 who’s boss.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Airbnb has decided to start the year off with a vigorous ad campaign. In 2019, we saw around 4,500 airings from Airbnb; in 2020, 2,000 airings; in the first three months of this year, they’ve aired ads over 21,000 times. This comes on the heels of a pandemic which by all accounts was not good to them. Some reporting, though, indicates that like cruises, the shared spaces of hotels made a lot of people uncomfortable and it seems like Airbnb is trying to use our collective desire for – and frankly ptsd about - not sharing air with people to move themselves into a stronger position in 2021.

Industry-wide we are seeing trends like this, from the low in April 2020 of around 16,000 airings across the entire travel industry, things are beginning to rebound. The rebound is slow, it looks like travel brands are weary of advertising too soon, in chance there might be another wave or new strain of Covid that restricts travel again.  There is also the fact that international travel will likely not go back to normal for at least a year, meaning that we likely won’t see large advertising pushes from airlines that mainly focused on international travel and most brands probably won’t advertise at full force until the day all travel is unrestricted, but slowly, like a grizzly emerging from a long hibernation, the travel industry is coming back.

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