Tentpole marketing campaigns tied to shopping-focused events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day have long been table stakes for product retailers. For travel brands advertising experiences instead of objects, the opportunity to drive brand lift, reach new audiences, and increase lifetime value is even greater.
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Many travel companies are used to running special promotions or campaigns around national holidays like Memorial Day and New Year’s Eve. Major cultural events like the World Cup and the Olympics are also popular campaign fodder since they provide regular programming that gets people thinking on a global scale. In addition, travel companies can explore new marketing opportunities by taking a page out of the retail playbook and leaning into tentpole shopping moments like Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
Through effective tentpole marketing strategies, businesses align their campaign efforts with major events, holidays, or cultural phenomena that have widespread appeal or recognition. That means travel companies are already on the right track — adding major events that are already geared toward shopping into an existing campaign calendar or advertising schedule is a promising way for travel brands to reach new consumers, drive brand lift, and increase sales.
Leverage Existing Shopping Patterns To Connect With Deal-Minded Consumers
“Effectively connecting with consumers requires a combination of always-on media to build brand awareness and keep brands top-of-mind, coupled with tentpole moments to reach and engage new customers,” said Meghan Joseph, manager, travel advertising at Amazon Ads. “Tentpole marketing helps brands break through a cluttered media environment leveraging high-traffic, high-attention moments to reach consumers in a shopping mindset.“
Many tentpole shopping moments fit seamlessly into holiday campaign calendars — as end-of-year events tied to the excitement of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday can easily be slotted into fourth-quarter advertising plans. It’s also perfect timing for travel brands in particular as 90 percent of consumers who are planning to book or gift a travel experience between October and December say they browse and learn about their options during the same time frame, according to research by Amazon Ads.1
Prime Day may take place earlier in the year, but much like the winter holiday season it is already solidified in consumers’ minds as a major shopping event, which may give travel brands a boost during the summer booking period. That’s especially true for deal-minded shoppers: 61 percent of Amazon shoppers who are planning or booking a trip in the next six months say they spend time looking for the best deal, and 96 percent of consumers who are planning to book or gift a travel experience during the fourth quarter period are very likely to consider discounts.2
Prime Day Wins Prove Tentpole Marketing Isn’t Just for Product Retailers
The first day of Prime Day 2023, July 11, was the single largest sales day in Amazon’s history. Over the course of the two-day shopping event, Prime members purchased more than 375 million items worldwide. As the first online travel agency to run an exclusive Prime Day deal, Priceline was an early mover, capitalizing on the opportunity for tentpole marketing beyond product retailers. Priceline was able to drive awareness through a series of lead-up and day-of placements, including a custom landing page, share of voice takeovers, and streaming TV and audio ads.3
“Our exclusive Prime Day activation was the perfect alignment of our collective brand missions,” said Lesley Klein, senior vice president of strategy and brand marketing at Priceline. “This tentpole partnership allowed Priceline to reach new travelers during the peak summer period and provide Amazon Prime members a high-value travel offer they wouldn’t typically access within the Amazon ecosystem.”
Carnival Cruise Line and Avis also showed how Prime Day can help travel brands reach and connect with consumers, even if the product is an experience that can’t exactly be added to a digital shopping cart. Carnival ran a display ad campaign leading up to and on the days of Prime Day featuring a discount of up to 40 percent off Carnival cruises.
Avis have been trailblazers in this space, and have leveraged several activations around Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. In this most recent campaign, Avis ran lead-up display, streaming TV, and Fire TV ads offering Prime members up to 30 percent off and 10 percent back in an Amazon gift card, if they purchased a car rental. On Prime Day itself, the offer increased to 35 percent off and 20 percent back.
“We’re pleased to have participated in Amazon’s latest Prime Day,” said Beth Kinerk, senior vice president, global sales at Avis. “We look forward to continuing to offer Amazon customers a valuable benefit when they rent with Avis or Budget.”
Tips to Help Travel Brands Build Successful Tentpole Marketing Strategies
- Align with business goals: Leverage the unique opportunities inherent in peak shopping moments to prioritize business goals and drive spikes in critical metrics like new customer acquisition, bookings, and loyalty. Travel companies might consider spotlighting high-margin products, new routes, or seasonal patterns, depending on their business goals.
- Provide the best possible offer: By definition, tentpole moments are few and far between. Making the most of them requires brands to create strong, attractive offers that stand out from other discounts, provide the highest possible customer satisfaction, and appeal directly to priority audiences.
- Plan for post-event learning: Clearly outline campaign key performance indicators (KPIs) based on specific business goals, and use advanced analytics tools like Amazon Marketing Cloud to determine the optimal media mix and inform future campaigns. Travel brands can also use analytics to improve return on investment (ROI) by designing customer relationship management (CRM) strategies that increase the lifetime value of new customers acquired through tentpole campaigns.
Travel brands are ideally positioned to reap the benefits of tentpole marketing. Major shopping moments put consumers in the right mindset to shop for discounts and prepare them to spend on meaningful, memorable experiences. With well-timed creative campaigns that are simultaneously aligned with business goals and designed to delight the customer, travel advertisers can embrace tentpole marketing to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and drive year-round revenue.
For more hospitality marketing trends and insights from Amazon Ads, click here.
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