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2019 Digital Advertising Challenges in the Travel Industry

Growth has been steady across the travel industry since the economic downturn. Challenges have been faced head-on and progress made in the right direction, but with the increase in tech, customer demands and new players entering the market, new digital advertising challenges in the travel industry are arising.

The last decade has been one of growth for the travel industry. In the US, between 2009 and 2017 we’ve seen hotel bookings grow from $116 billion to $185 billion, with airline revenue jumping from $155 billion to $222 billion in the same time frame.

This year the biggest challenges include: 

Social media and reputation management

For travel companies, social media is such a powerful tool to inspire, but it’s also often the first choice for customers to air their grievances. This could be a delayed flight or problems with a hotel for example. Customer service teams now have a social media arm to engage with customers across social media platforms and quickly diffuse any complaints.

However, the ability for bigger issues to turn into PR disasters by quickly spreading on social media is an ongoing and very real challenge for companies in the travel space. Examples of this include the issues faced by both United Airlines and Ryanair due to their actions, or lack thereof, following incidents on their flights before take-off.

Reputation management in the social media age is a huge issue for PR teams in all industries, but for high-ticket items like holidays, where trust is a fundamental factor, it can be extremely detrimental to a company if not managed correctly.

Competing for tomorrow’s traveller

The world is getting smaller. The pool of global travellers is growing, but so is the list of enticing travel destinations.

Hotel chains and airlines are continuing to expand into growing markets, while social media has increased the desirability of certain destinations due to their Instagram appeal. Marketers continue to feed into the appetite for off-the-beaten track destinations and the latest un-tapped gems. Throw in the likes of Thomas Cook offering budget flights for long-haul destinations, now means that you have the likes of New York and Lisbon competing against each other for city break travellers from across the globe.

Catering for well-being

Well-being in the travel industry focuses on two specific areas. The first is travellers using trips and holidays as a primary means of focusing on their health, with the second being travellers wanting to be able to maintain healthy habits on holidays and business trips. Hotels and travel providers that aren’t focusing on their wellness strategies may already be behind the curve.

Sharing economies and peer to peer travel

The sharing economy refers to the collaborative consumption of goods using a peer to peer service. Sometimes called swap and share, the most obvious example in the travel sector is Airbnb. In 2018, Airbnb celebrated its 10 year anniversary and has posed the biggest threat to the traditional players in the travel industry.

In fact, in 2017 a report highlighted that the threat was much bigger than the industry first thought, with it no surprise that hotels are suffering the most. The growth of this threat has caused hotels to up their game and focus on the experience they can offer travellers. Interestingly, in 2018 Airbnb launched Airbnb plus, offering a hotel-like service for high end accommodation.

An industry shake-up like this offers increased choice for consumers and better experiences for travellers, but it requires the industry to evolve. Traditional hotels and holiday providers simply have to change.


Consumers are becoming increasingly demanding. They want a more personalised service and if they don’t get it from you, then they will from another travel provider.

How can their holiday be tailored around their specific needs? What experiences will really resonate with them? What are the small personal touches that they’ll want to share on their social media platforms?

But personalisation isn’t just about the hotel experience. It starts with the research and booking experience. Consumers want to be recommended the destinations that are perfect for them. They want a brand that understands them and engages with them through advertising that is relevant, content that is tailored, and the essential offers they crave.

Voice Search

This one’s been on the agenda for a few years now, with marketers drumming the importance of voice search into anyone who’ll listen.

But it is now becoming a very real thing. Specifically, we’re seeing that 36% of UK travellers use voice search to research travel destinations. Data from Microsoft has also revealed the use of the Cortana Digital Assistant on mobile devices to search for hotels and flights; specifically hotel searches in 2018 increased by 343% year on year, while flight searches increased by 277%.

It’s therefore key to define your audience using all your available data points and campaign reporting and understand the needs and the questions that they have around travel. You then need to provide the best answers to these questions through your content and customer engagement strategy.

Final Thoughts

Evolution and adaptation are crucial for travel brands in a changing landscape. With increased competition and a changing market landscape comes an absolutely essential requirement to focus on the individual needs of consumers. The need to further understand their audience and provide them with the best experience during booking and for the duration of their vacation is essential. All customer touchpoints need to be consistent, open and personalised, with a detailed approach to reputation management. Ad strategies need to be tailored, targeted and high-performing.

With Fluid Ads we can help you understand your audience and advertise to the right customers, at the right time with the most relevant ad or service management notice. Book a demo today to learn how the Fluid Ads platform can revolutionise your digital advertising and communication with customers.

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