Sector report: Travel

Insight from RAMetrics


Our early ancestors travelled by foot, their successors took to the seas, then came the railway and eventually we took to the skies. Whether we’re going on holiday, migrating in search of new homes or embarking on gap years, it is clear humans have an innate curiosity. We have a desire to explore that has kept us moving throughout history, crossing frontiers and discovering new environments.

Taking time off is what most of us look forward to the most, with Google searches for flights and holidays peaking in the first week of January according to Google Trends. However the travel sector has faced its share of challenges in recent times; several travel companies have collapsed, including the Monarch Travel Group and Brexit negotiations are still very much ongoing. Despite this, ABTA research shows that more British people have taken more holidays than at any point in the last five years.

Travel editorial is a key part of newsbrands across all platforms and readers still rely on newsbrands for inspiration and ideas. According to the latest TGI Clickstream survey, 69% of holidaymakers say that newspapers and magazine articles on holiday and travel influence their choice of holiday, in fact a further 38% admit that they don’t have a destination in mind and are looking to be inspired.

Newspapers are highly effective in the media mix. We know from ’The ROI Study’ that adding print newsbrands to the media mix in the travel category improves overall campaign revenue return on investment (RROI) by a factor of three. Despite this, travel brands are underspending in newsbrands. In fact, Benchmarketing’s recent analysis of 684 econometric models, focusing on profit return on investment, shows that brands in the travel category are missing out on a £72 million of potential profit through underinvesting in newsbrands – that’s a lot of plane tickets!

Analysis of RAMetrics data shows that, from a creative perspective, travel ads could be involving readers just a little bit more (ad recall: 64% vs 65% for all ads) and as a result they score on or just below par across all brand measures. They are just as appealing and interesting as all ads (appeals to me: 28% vs 28%, interesting: 30% vs 30% for all ads) but when it comes to attention and recognition metrics, they fall short (branding: 27% vs 31%, familiarity:36% vs 42% for all ads). What ads in the travel category are particularly good at is getting engaged readers to take action (engagement to action: 91% vs 83% for all ads), which can translate to more website visits and encourage readers to make recommendations.

Lumen eye-tracking shows that readers’ viewing is biased towards right-hand pages of a spread and adverts on the right are seen more: 94% see full-page ads on right-hand pages, 89% view when on left-hand pages. RAMetrics confirms these findings for travel advertisers, readers are more likely to remember ads on the right-hand side (66% vs 62% for left-hand ads). Taking a closer look at some engagement metrics, we find that both sides have something different to offer and marginally out-perform each other against various measures. Readers find left-hand side ads more beneficial (15% v 13% for right-hand ads) and positive (30% vs 28% for right-hand ads), whereas they find ads on the right-hand side to be more informative (new information: 31% vs 30% for left-hand ads).

Image-based advertising tends to have more of an emotional impact, whereas price-based advertising is more effective at prompting action. For the travel sector, price-based ads are more common than image-based ads, despite image-based ads being more impactful (ad recall: 67% vs 57% for price-based ads). Image based ads demand more attention (28% vs 16% for price-based ads), score higher for familiarity (41% vs 27% for price-based ads) and readers find them to be more emotional than price-based ads (21% vs 6% for price-based ads).

So what happens when we start thinking about different income groups? How do readers earning below £30,000 per annum (low earners) and readers earning above £30,000 per annum (high earners), respond to travel ads in newspapers? Although both groups are almost equally as likely to notice the ads (ad recall: 64% vs 63% for high earners), high earners score significantly better across recognition measures: they are more likely to pay attention (26% vs 22% for low earners) and more likely to be familiar with the brand or product being advertised (branding: 31% vs 26%, familiarity: 41% vs 33%). Low earners tend to be more engaged, they are more likely to think that the brand has taken a fresh approach (31% vs 30%).

When it comes to age, young people (18-34s) score significantly higher than the over 35s across all brand measures. They’re more likely to remember looking at a travel ad (75% vs 63% for 35+) and they tend to like them more too (like ad: 43% vs 25%, benefit: 27% vs 13%). When it comes to taking action, young people are more likely to look for new information (30% vs 12%) and they even create conversation around the brand (discuss: 24% vs 10%). 

So how do young peoples’ responses to travel advertising in print stack up against their responses to print ads in other categories? When compared against all the category averages, travel print ads have higher impact for 18-34s than ads across all categories (75% vs 66% for all ads).They score significantly higher across all brand metrics. They provide the reader with new information (48% vs 34% for all ads) and evoke emotions (36% vs 19% for all ads). They even deliver on action; 18-34s are more likely to recommend (36% vs 24% for all) and discuss the products and brands seen in the print travel ads (24% vs 13% for all ads)

Looking specifically at digital, it’s interesting to note that ads for the travel sector are marginally more noticeable than digital ads for other categories on newspaper sites. They are better liked (11% vs 9% for all ads) and considered more interesting (11% vs 10% for all ads). Their strength lies in driving hard metrics which are more action orientated, such as prompting visits to the advertiser (13% vs 7% for all ads) and urging consumers to look for more information (11% vs 7% for all ads).

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