Skift Take

It’s no secret that the pandemic’s extreme measures have turned advertising on its head, but travel advertising is moving back and forth in leaps, from TV to internet, then back to TV. In 2022, travel brands are showing even more dedication to television, countering all speculation that national TV is coming to an end.

Delta Air Lines has recorded $70.4 million in national TV advertising spend in the first quarter, landing the top spot in travel tv ad spenders of this year so far, according to U.S. TV analytics firm The airline was followed by cruise holding company Royal Caribbean, with a spend of $33.5 million, and Airbnb, last year’s top tv ad spender, with a spend of $27.3 million.

Total travel national TV ad spend in the first quarter of 2022 stands at $351.5 million, a minimal gain from $321.7 million in the same period last year.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Airline’s “The Will To Fly Is A Universal Language”

Not surprisingly, Delta’s highest spend tv advertisement for this year is akin to Delta’s many Olympics campaigns, which are celebrated for their inspiring and motivating messaging. At a spend of $15.7 million, the ad titled “The Will To Fly Is A Universal Language” is an uplifting montage of gratifying moments in sports life, and encourages viewers to find joyful achievement through hard work and undying dedication.

Like Delta’s brand image, the video speaks to universality — commonalities of passion that cross international borders and dreams that are accomplished through perseverance. Not only is the video nostalgic and emotionally charged, but the tone of the ad is familiar to audiences of both national tv or internet video, making it a prime choice to be the most funded of Delta’s TV ads.

While Delta Air Lines was nowhere close to the top five spenders of last year’s first quarter, the brand, a famous sponsor of the Olympics and Team USA, showed massive dedication to tv advertising for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022. An even larger disparage is observed between this year and Delta’s pre-pandemic tv advertising spending of only $5,000 in the first quarter of 2019.

However, Delta Air Lines isn’t the only brand in its industry that has observed this jump in spending — the airlines sector was recorded to have spent over seven times more in the first quarter this year vs.the same period in 2019.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean’s “Rise to the Vacation – The Year of Yes” ad on Youtube

Targeted towards those deprived of adventure due to lockdown, “Rise To The Vacation — The Year of Yes” took the highest spend in Royal Caribbean’s national tv ad spend this quarter at a tag of $26.3 million. The title of the video, “A Year of Yes”, makes direct references to relaxed Covid restrictions, and unapologetically capitalizes on the common persons’ likelihood to burst out traveling this year. Driven by pop artist Lizzo’s “Worship,” the 15-second clip is packed with visuals of adrenaline-filled activities and invites people to say yes to cruise deals whilst ticking off items on your vacation bucket list.

Royal Caribbean, who also did not take a spot in the top five spenders in the first quarter last year, came in second at less than half of Delta’s spending. Yet, the cruise line company still recorded almost twice as much this quarter as their $16.6 million spending in the first quarter of 2019. Coincidentally, its numbers also mirror all cruise line national TV ad spend in 2022 as a whole, which has nearly doubled since pre-pandemic times.


Characterized by Airbnb’s signature use of silence and natural sound, the “Strangers” campaign emphasizes the nature of healing that Airbnb’s getaways can offer to those who are craving recuperation since the slowing of the pandemic. In the video, a group of shaggy, indistinguishable creatures enter an empty home and enjoy a weekend trip full of family games and peaceful mornings. Kevin Morby’s acoustic track “Strangers” plays in the background as the clip highlights small pleasures that can make up happiness. By the time the strange guests leave, they are revealed to be a human family of three, reflecting to the ragged, worn-out versions of entering guests in comparison to their newly replenished selves by the time they make their way back home.

With a title that makes a short but candid reference to the main concern people had about Airbnb when it was introduced in 2007 (strangers staying in each other’s homes), this advertisement is about as simple as it gets. The video alone had a spend of $13.6 million, half of Airbnb’s national TV ad spend in the first quarter.

Airbnb, who topped travel’s national tv advertising spending in the first quarter of last year, slightly faltered in its 2022 spend to come in third at $27.3 million, close behind Royal Caribbean. Like Delta, Airbnb has shown a notable commitment to national tv advertisements since the start of the pandemic, looking back at a spend of zero in early 2019.

In contrast, overall hotel and motel ad spend has declined from $66.4 million in the first quarter of 2019 to $23.2 million in the first quarter this year, with a greater emphasis on local these past few months.


The Daily Newsletter

Our daily coverage of the global travel industry. Written by editors and analysts from across Skift’s brands.

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Tags: advertisements, advertising, airbnb, branded advertising, coronavirus, delta air lines,, royal caribbean, spending, travel, Travel Advertising, tv

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