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With Increases Nearing Pre-COVID Levels, Travel Ad Spend Is Up Across The Board.

The travel advertising category, hit hard by the pandemic due to low demand, ongoing restrictions and multiple COVID variants, has experienced a comeback in 2022 in all ad categories, according to a just-released analysis from MediaRadar.

“The last few years were turbulent for the travel industry, but along came 2022, which may go down in history as the year of 'Revenge Travel,' the report says. “People are packing their bags at an accelerated rate. Global air traffic for January to April 2022 increased 65% vs. the same period last year.”

As a result, increases in travel ad spend year-to-date are closing in on levels last seen during the first quarter of 2020, with increased spend by airlines, lodging providers, rental car companies and tourism organizations – the latter having already invested close to $623 million through April 2022, up 43% year-over-year.

One factor in play is the shrinking of the booking curve, as in the time between trip bookings and actual departure date. “As in many other areas, 2022 has resulted in significant consumer behavior changes in travel, [with] booking curves becoming incredibly small across the board,” MediaRadar's report says. “The trend is due in large part to the growth of 'work from anywhere' and the increase in employees embracing the digital nomad life. With the shortened booking curve across the industry along with the predicted increase in demand, travel advertisers will probably have to keep their ad spend strong through the remainder of 2022 to capture last-minute consumer travel purchases.”

MediaRadar notes differences in each ad segment, with most spend through April 2022 from lodging advertisers, accounting for half of the nearly $623 million invested in ads. Airline ads spiked in February but quickly came back down given the highly publicized issues with cancelled flights and staffing, while rental car companies increased spend 37% year-over-year, to $75 million.

Among the advertisers in major travel categories driving spend are six in the lodging business - Airbnb, Expedia (Vrbo), Hard Rock Entertainment, Hilton, Marriott and Unique Travel Corp. (Sandals Resorts), with a combined spend of close to $200 million, or 64% of the total lodging spend – Delta and United Airlines, the latter with its first national campaign in nearly a decade, and six tourism boards with a combined $58 million from January-April 2022: California Travel & Tourism Commission, Charleston (SC) Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Monroe County Tourist Development Council (Florida Keys), Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Visit Florida and Williamsburg (VA) Tourism Council.

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