Creative 7 Min Read

Help Your Travel Ads Go the Distance with Tips from our Designers

Written by Tim Edmundson

As you can probably guess (or already knew), the travel industry is extremely competitive. The customer journey involves a lot of research and comparison, with more than 140 million U.S. adults researching trips online just last year. But that competition breeds profit: the global travel industry is estimated to be worth around $1.6 trillion. What does it take to get a piece of that trillion dollars? Campaigns built with compelling creative. So we asked our designers to give us the low-down on how they design successful ad campaigns for travel brands.

Research done by Google has found travelers usually follow a similar path to their purchases, hitting certain checkpoints that Google describes as Dreaming, Organizing, Booking, and Experiencing. We decided to combine the SteelHouse Designers’ tips with these moments in a traveller’s purchasing journey. That way you can be sure to design an ad that will lead you to success in your next campaign.

Want to launch compelling travel ads with the SteelHouse Advertising Suite? Request a demo today.

Dreaming: Spotlight Bright, Enticing Images

In the “Dreaming” phase, customers are seeking ideas and inspiration. They haven’t had to make any hard decisions about their trips yet, so they will be especially open to ideas on how to make their trip amazing. One of the easiest ways to capture a large portion of travel customers is to use locations to your advantage. Our designers say that part of what makes travel ads fun to design is that they get to work with beautiful scenes of the many destinations travelers can visit. If you have your own stockpile of images to work from, capture your audience’s imagination with the brightest, most engaging photos you have. And if you don’t happen to have access to such a cache, you are still in luck as there are plenty of stock-image sources available that will help you find that perfect image.

Who wouldn’t want to jet away to Italy after seeing the beautiful coastline featured in this ad?

As you are doing your research and search for the images you will feature for your ad, make sure to consider the place your ad will end up being served. Considering that 52% of travelers were so swayed by social that they ended up changing their original travel plans, it is likely that social will be one of those places. Keep your ad bright and your message clear to catch the eye of anyone using social on their mobile devices.

Organizing: Highlight any Discounts

There is nothing a soon-to-be traveler likes more than a discount. In the “Organizing” stage, people will be deciding what hotel or mode of transportation they will be booking for their trip. Considering the high price of many travel expenses, many people will spend extra time looking for the cheapest options for each purchase they make. According to a study by Expedia, more than 60% of travelers said their budgets were a key factor in their decision-making process, and that they will look for potential deals for their next flight or accommodation before pulling out their credit cards. To make an impact on these deal-seeking customers, consider featuring sale call-outs in your next ad – especially if you are planning to advertise on social media. More than 50% of the travelers from the U.S., Australia, and  the U.K. said social media campaigns featuring deals made a difference in their final decisions.

This ad uses humor and discounts to it’s advantage

Booking: Use Countdown Timers

By the point future travelers have reached the “Booking” point in their journey, they have made most of their decisions and are starting to reserve tickets and accommodations. But while most people like to plan their trips well in advance, don’t miss out on the chance to capture last minute travelers as well. This audience combines combines their Organizing and Booking into one step. Google states that travel-related searches with terms like “tonight” and “today” have grown over 150% on mobile devices. To capture this particular audience, our designers often employ the use of countdown timers to give travelers the sense of urgency on deals or events that they might miss otherwise.

The countdown timer in this ad helps to encourage travelers to book before it’s too late

Experience: Feature Action and Excitement

Featuring images of a skier and cabin with a snowy overlay video gives this ad life that will appeal to any traveler looking for a snow-cation.

The other way to design successful travel ads is to tap into the activities that a traveller will be participating in once they arrive at their desired location. The “Experience” step of the customer journey is usually completed after the traveller has booked their accomodations and figured out how to get to their destination. This is the chance to highlight the fun activities and places to visit that they should be thinking of ahead of their trip. Our designers call this “vacation-mode,” when the customer is more relaxed and will respond better to fun, or even funny ads. Include images of other people in motion at the destination or exciting videos to capture your customer’s imagination.

This exciting video in this ad makes the perfect backdrop

Before You Go…

As a parting tip, you may have noticed that many of our recommendations had something to do with mobile. 82% of travelers use use their mobile devices for researching or booking airline travel, and 52% do so when it came to accomodations. Make sure that your ads are accessible and clear for to those searching with their mobile devices when you design your ads. If you follow this and the rest of the tips from our designers, you will be well to the way to creating your own successful travel ads.