For the European economy alone, travel and tourism directly contributed an estimated 782 billion euros to GDP in 2018 and 14.4 million jobs through direct employment in the sector. The region encompasses 44 countries, over 24 officially recognised languages, and three standard time zones. While we see many similar trends across the region, there are also vast differences which can add further complexity for travel marketers. With the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, travel brands need to be more cognitive of what travellers are looking for in their next trip, as well as reassuring travellers across the globe that despite growing concerns, now is still the time to plan exciting trips to Europe. And travel marketers are increasingly turning to digital forms of advertising to inspire these global travellers.
To understand how travel marketers are addressing these challenges in the region, Sojern took a deep dive into the findings from the global State of the Industry: 2019 Report on Travel Advertising and broke them out into our 2019 European Report on Travel Advertising. Here are a few of the key trends we observed for the region:
Trend #1: Digital is Growing Faster Than Ever
Digital advertising represents the largest portion of ad spend for European travel marketers in 2018 at 49%. The region had the lowest spend globally on digital as a percentage of spend, alongside LATAM. Asia Pacific came out on top at 52%, followed closely by the United States and the Middle East.
However, in 2019, Europe remains among the top regions when it comes to increasing digital spend, with 66% of travel marketers planning to do so, a higher percentage than the Middle East and the United States. In fact, almost three quarters of travel marketers from European countries such as France and Spain plan to dedicate more ad budget towards digital this year.
Trend #2: Emerging Social Formats Are Taking Off
The product that will see the most growth this year is the Stories format. The Stories format is proving increasingly popular with consumers, and the travel marketers trying to reach them. As an upper funnel advertising format, Stories offer more information in a visual format at a faster rate, accounting for consumers’ rapidly shrinking attention spans. Roughly half of Instagram’s 1 billion users now use Instagram Stories every day, and over 2 million advertisers are now buying Stories ads across Facebook’s platforms. Over half (57%) of all European travel marketers intend to advertise on Facebook and Instagram Stories in 2019. Spanish travel marketers are ahead of the curve as 50% responded that they already used Instagram Stories in 2018, (global average was 44%) and 60% intend to use this format in 2019. UK and German travel marketers were not far behind with 49% having utilised Instagram Stories last year and both intending to increase their focus on the format this year.
German travel marketers showed the most planned growth around Facebook Stories rising from only 40% having used the format in 2018 to 57% planning to use it this year. We see similar high growth from Italy and France who both intend to spend more (56%) on Facebook Stories in 2019.
Trend #3: Big Tech Players Are Disrupting the Industry
Almost half (49%) of travel marketers in the region rank Facebook and Instagram as most likely to disrupt travel marketing over the next five years. Significantly more travel marketers in Spain (60%) feel that Facebook and Instagram will disrupt travel marketing, closely followed by Italy (58%).
Working with a Facebook Marketing Partner (FMP) helps to leverage Facebook more effectively, from campaign management and optimisation to measurement to creative services.
“As a vertical FMP, we build a platform that works only for travel brands because travel has very different problems. They are dealing with seasonality. They are dealing with expiring rates and availability. It is a very different path to purchase when you compare to eCommerce, for example. We build products that address these particular challenges.” – Volkan Çağsal CEO and Founder of Adphorus
However, it does seem that travel marketers are confident that Amazon will be able to roll out technology for the travel industry in the years to come, with 44% agreeing that Amazon will disrupt travel marketing.
Last year, Amazon placed Echo devices in hotel rooms across the country, starting with Marriott Hotels—enhancing the hotel guests’ experience through the power of voice commands.
“Amazon is not thinking about launching into the travel industry—Amazon is already in the travel industry.” – Mat Harris, Vice President of Product at Sojern
Looking for more detail on the key challenges travel marketers face, how they’re allocating advertising budget across channels, where they are finding success, and what technologies may impact the future of marketing?
Download our full 2019 European Report on Travel Advertising today.