When Silk Way West Airlines, a cargo airline from Azerbaijan, is the third-leading airline advertiser on U.S. television, you know coronavirus has turned the world upside down. Online travel websites, hotels, airlines, and cruise lines are still largely dark.
If you are looking to TV advertising to reflect — or generate — a travel recovery, then be patient because there is little sign of a pulse.
But within the travel vertical, as defined by U.S. TV analytics firm iSpot.tv, it was theme parks and resorts (40 percent of travel’s spend), and then cities and destinations (37 percent) that led the way in the top two positions, respectively. Trailing were travel websites (8.7 percent), hotels and motels (8.36 percent), airlines (4.4 percent), and cruise lines (1.2 percent)
The total travel vertical only allocated an estimated $7.8 million for national TV commercials in the United States from April 1 to May 12, as reflected in the iSpot.tv chart below. (Car rental firms and tour operators weren’t included.)
Travel Industry U.S. National TV Spend 4/1/-5/12/2020
When considering the TV commercial in each sector that attracting the most spending, Sandals Resorts‘ “Love Is All That Matters” was the only one to obliquely but skillfully acknowledge the coronavirus crisis with a message about the resort being welcoming when travelers decide to return.
But other brands avoided the coronavirus topic entirely in their leading spots, and one commercial offered by Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, amounted to buffoonery in action.
In the unwitting foot-in-mouth category, Treasure Island enticed viewers to take advantage of its two-for-one buffets, and advised in its “Heart of the Strip” commercial: “Check into your luxury room and indulge in all that center Strip action. The hot spots, the cool spots, the spa, the gourmet dining. It’s all just a call away.”
Ah yes, the hot spots. Will such TV ads spur guests to makes reservations at Treasure Island, and without social distancing, testing. and contact tracing ignite new coronavirus hot spots? (Treasure Island ran this same TV commercial as far back as 2017.)
Online travel websites, hotels and motels, airlines, and cruise lines are on TV but to an almost infinitesimal degree.
When you have brands such as Silk Way West Airlines, a cargo airline from Azerbaijan, as the third biggest spender in the airline category instead of Southwest, Delta or United, and Low Cost Airlines (not Low Cost Airlines) as the second leading spender in the travel website division instead of Trivago, Hotels.com or Booking.com, you know something’s amiss.
Two Las Vegas Strip hotels, Treasure Island and Aria, are out there enticing high rollers even though the city is in the very early stages of reopening.
Private jet vendors such as NetJets, the second biggest spender in the airline category, are looking to fill a gap.
The following highlights the U.S. national TV ad spend of each sector within the travel vertical, the top-three spenders during the period within each sector, and the TV spot that accounted for the largest spend.
Resorts and Theme Parks
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $3.1 million
Top Spenders: Sandals, Ark Encounter, and Beaches Resorts
Top TV Ad: Sandals spent an estimated $1.01 million on “Love Is All That Matters”
Cities and Destinations
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $2.89 million
Top Spenders: Visit Las Vegas, Museum of the Bible, and Visit Reno Tahoe
Top TV Ad: Museum of the Bible spent $1.05 million on “Hope”
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $680,896
Top Spenders: Vuelosymas.com, LowCostAirilines, and SmartFares
Top TV Ad: Vuelosymas.com spent $241,671 on “Boletos de avión y hotels”
Hotels and Motels
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $649,093
Top Spenders: Treasure Island, Aria Hotel & Casino, and Holiday Inn
Top TV Ad: Treasure Island spent an estimated $615,511 on “Heart of the Strip”
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $347,790
Top Spenders: All Nippon Airways, NetJets, Silk Way West Airlines
Top TV Ad: All Nippon Airways spent an estimated $263,656 on “LGPA: Inspiring Every Journey”
Estimated Sector TV Spend: $94,872
Top Spenders: Carnival Cruise Line, Viking, and Nomadic Waters
Top TV Ad: Carnival spent an estimated $44,150 on “Long Live the Fun Ones: $389”
Photo credit: A screenshot of a Treasure Island TV commercial that ran on May 14, 2020. Treasure Island Hotel & Casino