US travel booking agencies are spending big on marketing to get more people to book flights and accommodation on their apps and websites as they seek to make the most of a post-pandemic tourism boom in the during the next summer season.
After becoming one of the biggest casualties of the health crisis, companies like Airbnb Inc, Booking Holdings Inc, Expedia Group Inc and Tripadvisor Inc quickly turned the page due to unprecedented demand for travel from fatigue-weary Americans. pandemic.
About six in 10 Americans plan to take at least one summer trip this year, according to monthly data from the nonprofit US Travel Association released in April.
“This could be the greatest summer travel of our lives and the last thing anyone would want to do is miss it,” Bernstein analyst Richard Clarke told Reuters.
The U.S. travel industry is expected to spend 14.2%, or about $4 billion, of its marketing budget this year on digital advertising, according to market research firm Insider Intelligence.
Although increased spending is expected to create a dent in profits in the near term, the benefits of this effort could far outweigh the costs in the years to come as travel demand is only expected to soar.
“Customers are willing to pay higher prices for reservations. There have been a lot of savings over the past two years…so even with inflation there are enough customers who will pay higher prices raised just to travel,” said HotelPlanner general manager Tim. Hentschel told Reuters.
For example, March ticket prices for U.S. domestic flights were 15% higher month-on-month, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, but the rise didn’t hit demand for flights, suggesting that Americans are at least unaware of the impact of soaring inflation. for the moment.
DRIVE A BOOM
Travel companies are doing everything they can to appeal to vacationers and are taking every step possible, from improving their websites to offering innovative services.
Earlier this month, Airbnb chief financial officer Dave Stephenson said the company was increasing its “marketing dollars”, although it would remain relatively constant as a percentage of revenue.
On Wednesday, the San Francisco-based company revamped its app and website to allow travelers to split their vacation between two properties and book homes by browsing through a long list of categories without needing to type in a destination.
Meanwhile, Booking said it expects marketing spend in the second quarter to represent a slightly higher percentage of its gross bookings compared to pre-pandemic levels, while rival Expedia plans to “spend on the resumption (of travel)”.
Marketing and advertising costs form the bulk of the overall expenses of most travel companies, which must seek new and innovative ways to keep people interested in their products.
Booking’s marketing expenses accounted for about 46% of its total operating expenses in the first quarter, while Expedia’s sales and marketing expenses accounted for nearly 60% of costs and expenses.
“We believe this year, in a recovering travel market, there is potentially a once-in-a-generation opportunity to really look at both marketing and merchandising,” Booking’s chief financial officer David Goulden said. , earlier this month.