Did you know that 60% of travelers start planning their trip without a specific destination in mind?1 Data like this can change how and when you communicate with travelers. By understanding travelers’ buying journeys from looking to booking and the latest travel trends, destination marketers can attract travelers and even shape destination decisions.

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Travel data and trends can help you understand and appeal to your target audience better. The ability to attract travelers could get more complicated as third-party cookies are phased out, which is why leveraging our robust first-party data can provide the audience insights you need. Keep reading to learn how data in the Path to Purchase report and our Unpack ’24 travel trends study can give you the competitive advantage you need to create data-driven destination marketing campaigns that resonate with travelers.

Travel marketing along the path to purchase

As a destination marketer, you can use Path to Purchase insights to inform your strategy and get your message across clearly to your intended audience in the fragmented travel and tourism industry.

Destination indecisiveness is high

Nearly three in five travelers surveyed didn’t have a specific destination in mind or considered multiple destinations when they first decided to take a trip. More than 80% of travelers from Mexico and 62% of travelers from the U.K. were undecided on their destination, indicating that these travelers may be even more open to destination inspiration.2

What this means for destinations

Location indecisiveness in the early stage of travel planning creates opportunities for destination marketers to determine destination decisions. Targeting travelers while they’re still in the inspiration phase is the key to building awareness for your brand and showing what makes your destination unlike any other.

To appeal to travelers’ wanderlust and keeping costs in mind in this phase and throughout the purchasing journey, travel advertisers should consider showing breathtaking locations and interesting experiences along with compelling deals and clear calls to action to drive travelers to conversion. It’s also important to know how long people spend looking for vacation inspiration, so you know when to launch your campaign to attract more visitors.

Travelers spend 33 days looking for inspiration for travel destinations

We know that advertisers want to have a clear view of travelers’ buying journeys and the potential touch points they can have with travelers. That first moment, when travelers look for inspiration, is a key opportunity to influence travelers’ choices, and the window to reach people is 33 days long on average.3

Your current strategy might be to advertise to an audience that already showed an interest in your location, but the data is clear that there’s a large opportunity to create impactful ads that drive those looking for inspiration to consider new destinations — including yours.

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It’s also important to note that two-thirds of travelers were influenced by an ad during the inspiration phase of their journey.4

What this means for destinations:

Inspiration can come from many sources, like family recommendations or advertisements, so destinations need to ensure that they have a multi-channel approach to appeal to travelers during this stage. All our solutions help get your destination in front of our motivated travel audience.

If you’re looking to take your budget further, you could consider a co-op campaign. These campaigns are cost-effective and help marketers meet collective goals, and we do the heavy lifting to connect complementary destinations, hotels, airlines, and more to engage jointly with travelers and drive demand.

When it comes to connecting with travelers across channels, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) see over 80% higher engagement with our native display ads compared to standard display ads.5 Our native advertising solution uses contextually relevant, non-disruptive ads seamlessly integrated across our 200+ travel websites and apps. These experiential ads allow you to highlight multiple features and images with a single placement and create a pleasing experience for travelers when they’re looking for inspiration or ready to book.

VisitScotland used native advertising to engage travelers with immersive and informative ad placements across prominent homepages and hotel search results pages. By implementing native advertising, the marketing campaign generated an above average click-through rate (CTR) and an 80:1 return on ad spend (ROAS). The campaign’s success elevated the visibility of VisitScotland and effectively engaged qualified travelers, resulting in increased bookings.

You can also leverage in-app ads as part of our native advertising solution to gain a competitive advantage. Did you know that on average, in-app ads drive 150% more conversions than mobile web ads?6 This is one more lever you can pull to execute a successful marketing strategy.

Travelers use social media the most for inspiration

Social media is where people seek authentic travel experiences and reviews when considering hotels, activities, or destinations. For travelers considering what to book, 65% of them use social media for inspiration.7

What this means for destinations:

For those in destination marketing, tapping into social media as part of your mobile marketing strategy is an effective way to get travelers to consider your destination. You could add a human touch to your mobile marketing campaigns by utilizing influencer marketing at this stage. If you’re working for a convention and visitors bureau, you can engage travelers on social media by highlighting what they could expect if they choose your destination by using captivating images and copy that highlight authentic experiences.

Discover the latest travel marketing trends

Let’s look at a few more trends that can help you learn how to promote a destination by implementing specific insights into travelers’ behaviors in your campaigns. Our Unpack ’24 study is a glimpse into eight predicted trends we see shaping the travel and tourism industry this year. Based on extensive data and a global survey of 20,000 travelers, the report highlights the growing popularity of alternatives to well-known vacation spots, traveling to see a concert, and booking a trip because of a movie or TV show. You can find more trends in the full study, and you can dive even deeper with our quarterly insights and research.

We’ve pulled trend takeaways to help shape your marketing campaigns and get your destination in front of our global audience of high-value travelers who are coming to dream about, research, and book travel on our trusted brands.

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Travelers are booking destination dupes

Destination dupes are budget-friendly alternatives to popular travel spots that offer similar experiences, usually without the hefty price tag or crowds. Think of it as the travel equivalent of finding a high-quality, affordable alternative to a luxury brand. For example, travelers might choose Pattaya over Bangkok or Perth instead of Sydney to enjoy a comparable vibe and attractions at a fraction of the cost. One in three travelers polled said they’ve booked a destination dupe.8

What this means for destinations:

If you think your location could be a dupe, it’s time to position yourself as an alternative. You know what your destination has to offer, and we can help you tell that story to potential travelers. Does it have something in common with a higher-profile location? Try turning that into an advantage and highlight the elements your destination has in common with more well-known places. To take it a step further, you could showcase promotions or deals in your advertising that could appeal to cost-conscious travelers.

Concerts are driving tourism

Tour tourism is a popular emerging area of leisure travel. This trend sees concertgoers looking beyond their local venues to catch a show, with 40% of travelers saying they would travel for a concert as an excuse to visit a new place, while 30% would travel because tickets were cheaper elsewhere.9

What this means for destinations:

When Taylor Swift’s 2024 tour schedule was announced for Asia and Australia, travel searches increased by over 250% year over year for the corresponding tour cities. Similarly, when the 2024 European tour dates were announced, travel searches for May to August 2024 increased by nearly 65% for cities with corresponding tour stops.10 To reach travelers venturing out of town for a concert, you could target certain search windows, lean into influencer marketing, or create packages with local establishments to provide more value for potential attendees.

Our data-driven audience extension solution can help you reach customized audience segments, like those traveling during a certain time, to make sure your destination is in front of the right people, at the right time, and with the right message using targeted marketing.

Set-jetting could be your untapped travel marketing trend

Set-jetting, planning trips inspired by TV shows and movies, is more popular than ever. More than half of travelers say they’ve researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it on a TV show or in a movie. In fact, travelers say TV shows influence their travel decisions more than Instagram, TikTok, and podcasts.11

What this means for destinations:

You can lean into this source of travel inspiration where people want to book because they were inspired by a particular location. We helped one of our partners, Brand USA, create an immersive and interactive experience and debuted this innovative approach to travel booking with a shoppable streaming platform that delivers unique video content to replicate what travelers would experience at a destination.

Our Media Studio team concepted and built this unique approach to destination exploration that allows travelers to quickly and easily book their trip as they immerse themselves in what the destination has to offer. Brand USA is the first partner to use this trailblazing solution, and we’re excited to roll out this approach for other destinations across the globe.

Reach your goals with the leading travel media network

We know it can be difficult to act on emerging market trends. That’s why we’re here to help you understand consumer behavior and travel trends to ensure your destination stands out from the rest using our expertise, innovative technology, and powerful platform. All our advertising solutions focus on helping DMOs stand out in a crowded marketplace and drive tourism, and we can help you find the perfect combination for your specific needs.

To learn more about the array of advertising solutions we provide and how your destination can leverage data, contact one of our experts today.

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1. The Path to Purchase: Uncovering How Travelers Plan and Book Online, Luth Research and Expedia Group, 2023.
2., 3., 4. The Path to Purchase.
5. Expedia Group internal data, DMO native CTR versus standard display CTR, 2023.
6. Performance Marketing World, September 2023.
7. The Path to Purchase.
8., 9. 10., 11. Expedia Group, Unpack ’24, 2023.

About Expedia Group Media Solutions

Expedia Group Media Solutions is the world's leading travel media network. We connect advertisers with hundreds of millions of travelers across the globe. Our exclusive first-party data on traveler trends, search behavior, and booking data provides travel marketers with unique insights to inform their strategies. We offer a full-funnel suite of solutions to help you convert travelers, and our digital experts can help you create advertising campaigns that deliver.

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