Top Travel Marketing Trends for 2015

Like everyone in the travel industry, this is the time of year that Boelter + Lincoln and its travel clients are entrenched in planning for 2015. Researching trends, establishing strategies and tactics, and setting budgets are all consuming tasks for the next few months. Truthfully, the research phase of the planning cycle occurs all year long, but this is the time of the year where we are trying to uncover nuggets of information that will make 2015 different than 2014. And typically what makes each year different is the use of the internet – both from a consumer usage and an advertising expenditure standpoint. The internet is continually changing our clients’ businesses – whether it’s a simple shift of desktop traffic to mobile or a heavier shift of call center to online hotel room reservations.

If we had to narrow our research down to five key trends it would be the following:

1)     Digital is Key – Time spent with digital media has surpassed television for the last two years (Source: April 22, 2014). Advertisers’ budgets need to keep pace with where their target audience is spending their time. For example the hotel industry is expected to spend about 45% of their advertising dollars online (Source: U.S. Travel Advertising Marketplace 2015). This is a very close representation of how much time the average U.S. adult is spending with digital media.

2)     Traditional media is holding (in some areas) – Television and out-of-home remain strong because of their high reach and potential impact on branding. DMOs and OTAs traditionally spend a larger share of their budget on offline media because of its highly effective levels of reach. Unfortunately for print, the news isn’t as good. Print continues to see decreases in spending each year, just as audiences are spending less time with the medium.

3)     Mobile is on the rise – According to, mobile will continue to see the largest increase in time spent year-over-year. In 2014 the average U.S. consumer will spend 23% more time with mobile than in 2013. Most travel advertisers are seeing traffic to their desktop website’s decrease while their mobile websites are seeing increases.

4)     Video Content is King – Online video viewing is another area that continues to see increases in time spent each year. And it’s not only Millennials and Gen Xers. Boomers are seeing a 72% increase in online video usage from 2013 (according to Nielsen). Also, according to Google, when consumers are watching travel content online, they prefer that it be branded and professional footage over user-generated content.

5)     Millennials, Millennials… – The new “it” generation. They can’t be ignored since they may be the largest segment of the population. They have changed the rules for marketers. The role of social media and user-generated content has become very important in their lives. They only spend roughly a third of their time with traditional media and they are highly influenced by what their peers are posting online. How are you going to reach them?

Of course, there are more than five trends shaping the travel industry for the coming year. Share your thoughts on what will be key in 2015!

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