Location-Based Travel Takes the Lead in US TV Ad Market
By Beth Vendice President, Mercury Media Boston | October 30, 2011
Domestic travel destinations looking to find a growth market should look no further than their own backyard. The US Travel Association (USTA) predicts that the next three years will be a period of recovery for the domestic travel market, which took a hit in 2009. According to the USTA, spending by Americans who are traveling within the U.S. will hit $647 billion this year, up 6.2 % from 2009. That figure is predicted to rise to $697 billion in 2011 and $740 billion in 2012.
This growth presents an opportunity for an array of travel companies, including airlines, cruise lines and hotel chains, but the biggest opportunity lies with domestic travel destinations like Disney World and Las Vegas. U.S. resorts and cities can now compete for their share of travelers who are no longer vacationing internationally, but are still traveling domestically. During a recession, many consumers consider international travel too expensive and time consuming. Factors like job security and cost become increasingly important, and consumers spend significant time planning to ensure that they are getting the most value for their money. They find value and flexibility in domestic destinations and those that get in front of these new customers first will ultimately benefit from the extra exposure.
Take Mercury Media client Vegas.com, for example. The travel services website, headquartered minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip, came to us looking to increase both brand recognition and reservations in the midst of a recession that had brought the destination's to an all-time low. Using a multichannel, direct marketing campaign that combined television, social media, email and newspaper advertisements touting a uniform special offer to receive $25 off purchases of $250 or more by entering the code "SLAM" during checkout, Vegas.com was able to increase sales by 30% for the month. But that's not all. Because direct response marketing is executed in real-time, our team was able to optimize Vegas.com's media spend and placements over the course of the campaign to increase their return on investment by 300%, significantly decreasing their cost per lead. The campaign was successful on another level as well. While Las Vegas' economy thrives on international tourism, Vegas.com was able to tap into a very challenging domestic travel market through a series of local market media buys, effectively harnessing new customers and exposure for the Vegas.com brand.
A similar opportunity exists for other destination-based travel companies as our economy begins a steady path toward recovery. Perhaps more now than during the launch of Vegas.com's campaign in 2008, consumers have come to expect value from domestic travel. Destinations that reach consumers consistently and reliably with value-oriented offers will begin to establish themselves as go-to resources for this new class of travelers. But having just the right offer is not all you need to succeed using direct response television. In order to compete in what promises to be a tight domestic travel marketplace, destinations should integrate these five best practices for destination travel and direct response television advertising into their campaign:
1. Find the right customers
Unlike traditional television advertising, direct response television is based on testing. So, if your destination does not normally appropriate large TV advertising budgets, direct response television specialists can use testing to find the right customer targets first, before rolling out any major expenditures. For example, if Las Vegas wants to drive people to its website to book a vacation it has to find the customer segments that are most likely to do so. Through testing, we can pin point demographics and locations that will provide the greatest return on investment for travel clients.