Be on the lookout for data and insight on the following travel companies and more:
Travel Industry Trend
Using Google Trends historical data, we can see how the topic ‘Holiday’ in the UK (which is linked to the interest/intent to book a holiday) has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Full Travel Sector
Media Spend vs Visits
From this data we can take away three key things:
Visits tend to increase in January at the start of the New Year, and they peak in August before declining right around Christmas
British people like to plan their holidays in advance
Even the brands spending over 10M follow the same trend
Even for the bigger spenders, the number of new visitors isn’t impacted by media investment.
Not having a TV strategy might negatively impact visitors
An appropriate TV strategy is necessary
Looking at the visit trends line of this next graph, you can see it’s highly responsive to investment. Brands between the 5M and 10M are able to impact the number of visits with an appropriate TV strategy.
This is thanks to a shift in strategy which focuses more on activation and customer acquisition in the short-term, rather than passively being chosen by customers in the travel industry.
TV investments and web visits are linked
To compete with the larger players in the industry, a good customer acquisition plan and a short-term activation strategy can yield very good results.
The below graph shows the high correlation between TV spending and visitor numbers. That explains why the sector’s trend line is so sensitive to media spending, and it also makes clear how crucial it is for these brands to implement a strategy with TV at the forefront.
Brands more focused on acquiring customers in the short-term can increase their purchase intent. Consistent investment over a long period can also increase their recognition and build awareness.
Brands spending between 1M and 5M struggle to draw in customers
The trend line in the chart below, shows a lack of receptivity to media investments. Essentially, these brands are struggling to draw in customers and the industry trend line shows that it’s the consumers choice – that is driving this pattern.
Only 15% of the brands in the chart below are investing heavily in TV
Strong investment in TV are also correlated to a better overall performance in terms of web visit numbers. On the other hand, 75% of the brands are not investing in TV (or only investing a little) and as a consequence are performing poorly. This may negatively impact group performance overall and prevent the market from being appropriately stimulated.
This validates our belief of how important (and achievable it is) to set up a suitable TV plan to help attract new customers. The ads that spend more on TV actually provide the best results.
Late peak is the travel industry’s most popular ad slot
Morning hours are not thought to be particularly crucial for the industry, with early Peak and Pre-Peak also representing a sizable amount of TV investments.
The two charts below show the disparity between these three slots and the other dayparts. When we look at the second chart in particular, looking at the percentage impacts, you can see the Travel industry is following closely the trend of ALL the industries combined.
Different strategies for weekdays and weekends
Brands must carefully evaluate what times their target demographic will be watching television. In general, various audiences watch TV at different times. It is easy to predict only if advertisers are knowledgeable of their target market.
Daytime television programs for example, are usually targeted at women aged between 18–49 and all adults 55+ so this slot could work really well for some brands in the travel industry.
Soap operas, cookery shows, discussion shows, and game shows have historically dominated daytime programming during the workweek. On the weekend though, daytime programming tends to be more diverse and leans towards sports programming.
The biggest television audiences may be found at peak times, when an astonishing 45% of the UK population sits down in front of the tv. This spans practically all age groups.
30 seconds ads are the most used in the travel industry
63% of ALL ads in the travel industry are 30 seconds long.
The typical ‘storytelling or relationship-building’ 60/90 second commercials don’t seem to be a part of the travel industry’s advertising strategy.
The most popular TV channels
The most watched television channels in the UK is ITV1. This isn’t surprising given hit reality series like Love Island and the more recent record-breaking Alan Bates vs The Post Office. In second place is Channel 4 which is known for its innovative programming, which often includes documentaries, comedy, and drama series. It too now has started to delve into reality shows (Married at First Sight).
In third place is Channel 5, which tends to deliver more factual programming, drama (particularly true crime dramas), documentaries, and entertainment shows in its line-up.
Cruise ship category specifics
P&O spends the most and reaps the rewards
Although press is the most popular media channel, the results are not as good as they could be. Below, the first graph demonstrates how brands that invest in TV generally achieve higher results in terms of visits.
The two most important metrics for activation and brand-building
The chart below combines two of the most important metrics for activation and brand building strategies.
Below, you can see that only P&O have been able to successfully combine purchase intent and brand awareness, while the majority of brands exhibit poor purchase intent and very low brand recognition.
An all-encompassing method of audience analysis is purchasing intent. It combines demographic and behavioural data to consider not just the characteristics of your leads but also the steps they take to learn more about your business.
An extremely low purchase intent score shows that a business is struggling to attract new customers and increase their buying intent.
DRTV is one of the best ways to pique the interest of new customers, and when used in combination with a long-term branding strategy, it may yield significant results, increasing awareness too.
Cruise ships aren’t only for older demographics
The graph below disproves the widespread belief that cruise ships exclusively appeal to those over the age of 55.
The major cruise ship firms’ offerings have changed significantly in recent years, providing distinct experiences for niche markets.
Celebrity Cruises, MSC, and Norwegian Cruise Line are three examples of brands that don’t appeal to the 65+ demographic only.
Targeting the wrong audience can be a costly mistake, leaving a huge investment in TV ineffective and wasting resources.
We will also examine companies such as Cunard Line and Fred Olsen, who are keeping their appeal with a 65+ population and are performing slightly better in terms of generating brand recognition than the preceding brands. That being said, there’s still room for improvement.
In the dynamic world of marketing, observing how brand awareness evolves is a key indicator of a company’s strategic impact. A compelling case in point is Celebrity Cruises, whose TV investments during the initial three months of the year showcase a noteworthy rise in brand awareness.
This surge in brand awareness is particularly significant, setting the stage for influencing customer choices, especially during the upcoming summer months when seasonal demand peaks.
However, even with active TV spending, they are ineffectual at influencing short-term purchase intent and site visits while the advertisements are running.
This highlights the question of whether the call-to-action approach has the ability to impact clients during these specific months.
While brand awareness sees a timely increase, there appears to be a notable delay in the corresponding indicators of purchase intent and web visits. These two metrics are often associated with a call-to-action strategy and the short-term response elicited from customers.
Strategically, it would be beneficial to influence customer preferences stimulating the call to action too in the months leading up to summer, coinciding with the active advertising period. This approach will allow Celebrity Cruises to proactively shape customer choices ahead of seasonal demand, gaining an advantage by influencing decisions earlier than competitors.
Celebrity Cruises emphasises brand, but its promotional offers struggle to capture customer interest
Identifying the right target audience stands as a linchpin for brands aspiring to cultivate a customer base
25-44 audience not being properly reached
Our data confirms that the age range of 25-44 (which represents a substantial portion of the family segment), and is a large audience for Celebrity cruises, is not being properly reached from the TV Campaign between Jan 2023 and Mar 2023.
Demographics choosing Celebrity Cruises for Holidays
MSc Cruises vs Royal Caribbean – both can impact purchase intent score with a well crafted TV plan
Purchase intent can be used as a key indicator to measure customer responsiveness to the call to action.
It’s intriguing to note that while the purchase intent for MSC Cruises continued to rise during the summer months, Royal Caribbean experienced a notable decrease immediately following the TV commercial in May.
Royal Caribbean demonstrated the ability to influence its purchase intent score drastically in the month of May. However, the effectiveness of this impact was hindered by a lack of consistency in their TV advertising strategy in the months leading up to summer. The decline in interest immediately following the TV ad in May, suggests that without a continuous and strategic TV plan to build anticipation and awareness, the brand struggled to retain consumer engagement during high-demand (seasonal) periods.
Royal Caribbean’s TV investments impact beyond moment of airing
We advise Royal Caribbean to strategically increase its TV visibility in the months leading up to summer. This proactive approach involves maintaining a consistent presence to capitalise on the enduring effects of TV advertising. The goal is to firmly imprint the brand in viewers’ minds, fostering heightened recognition and recall.
Royal Caribbean International
The key is a balance between activation and brand strategy
The Brand Strategy is crucial for creating an emotional connection with potential travellers but at the same time Activation Strategy in the travel sector is vital for prompting immediate responses, especially considering the competitive and dynamic nature of the industry.
Time-sensitive promotions, exclusive offers, and clear calls to action can drive bookings and engagement.
In situations where emotion plays a pivotal role — like selecting a honeymoon destination, choosing a thoughtful gift, or planning a holiday with loved ones — activation efforts should be heightened. Consumer behaviour often follows a pattern where the category is considered first, and brand decisions come after. In this example, the initial thought is about booking a holiday, leading to subsequent brand-level choices.
Fred Olsen & Cunard appeal to 65+ audience
Interestingly, the media strategy for the two brands appears to differ even if they are speaking to the same target group.
As you can see in the chart below, Cunard relies exclusively on TV and Digital, whereas Fred Olsen relies on a wider mix, although it leads firstly with Direct Mail, followed by Press.
Cunard Fred Olsen
In the bar chart below, you’ll see how these two brands compare to their competitors when it comes to appealing to the 65+ audience.
Fred Olsen vs Cunard – month by month
In the first few months of the year, (when planning for the holidays are in full swing), Fred Olsen is doing well.
However, by concentrating only on direct mail during the remaining months of the year, it was unable to effectively increase visits.
They share the same segment of audience (+65) as Cunard but the difference, is that Cunard is highlighting how TV investment can be profitable and importantly, capable of generating visits.
TV + other media is a winner
TV is able to push up Visits even more when combined with others media channels.
Theme Parks & Resorts
As you can see, the parks and resorts with the highest number of visits, are those that are investing heaviest in TV, whilst still mixing their media channels appropriately. Haven, Parkdean and Center Parcs are all using a good mix of the different channels.
The others suffer because they’re investing too little in TV.
What about Butlins?
You may have noticed on the above graph that Butlins had a good mix of TV and Digital with some Cinema as well. So why are they struggling to generate as many visits as the top four?
The reason is their TV strategy is struggling to generate visits and reach their targeted demographic.
Their advertising’s message does not align with the target audience. Unsurprisingly, pool parties and dance music don’t seem to appeal to the over 65 demographic.
% of Age Demographic choosing Butlins
TV not working for Warner Leisure Hotels
Whilst TV might not be working for Warner Leisure Hotels, it does seem to be working for the other two main TV spenders. For the the other hotel groups you can see in the graph below, only investing in digital is not enough.
Warner Leisure Hotel’s TV Investment
The sub-optimal performance of the brand appears to be the result of targeting the wrong audience list.
The average Warner Leisure Hotel client spends more than £2500, which is higher than the average price that English consumers pay for a vacation or short getaway, according to a study from TGI.
Warner Leisure Hotels’ clientele is wealthy
The demographic group that opted to use Warner Leisure Hotel’s services is mostly wealthy.
Targeting primarily the E group is not a smart approach in light of the high level of inflation and the cost of living, which are causing people to prioritise the necessities or choose less expensive vacations.
“It’s encouraging to see that holiday sentiment in the UK has returned to pre-pandemic norms despite the ongoing challenges we face in terms of the rising cost of living. The yearly holiday is enshrined in the British psyche as an untouchable escape for many which is quite unique when compared to other global markets where the return to travel has been much more sluggish. It is clear in the data that linear TV has played a huge role in driving that ‘return to normal’ and the brands that are using it well are stealing a significant competitive advantage against their peers. Whilst the sentiment is high the need for trustworthy brands offering value for money has never been so important in a sector that has always been fiercely competitive. Understanding the important role TV can play and how it contributes to your bottom-line is central to how we operate at All Response Media.“
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