Travel Is Back, and We’re Going Up

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Travel is back

Beep, beep, beep, beep. 

You groggily toss and turn a bit before you find out what’s going on with that near-inhumane noise. Oh, it’s your fog horn-like alarm at, hmm… 3:30 am.

After some hesitation and a plea with yourself to wake up with less than a metric ton of coffee, you roll out of bed, wash your face only to be reminded that waking up this early is a crime, and get dressed. Right now, the only thing standing between you and walking out your front door is what feels like a million-mile journey to your coffee maker. But you do it.

You check your phone. It’s 4:10 am now. You take your last sip of coffee, jam a few last-minute necessities into your suitcase (because who has their luggage ready by the door?), and step out into your Uber. After 30 minutes and some pre-dawn conversation, you check in with the airlines, print your boarding pass, head to your gate after buying wildly overpriced reading material, and wait. Some moments pass, and it’s time. You pop up out of your seat, hop on your 6:30 am flight, and that’s that. 

Fast forward about a year after this nostalgic anecdote, and life looks a lot different. As COVID-19 began spreading, not only was the world impacted but the travel industry too. Per United Nations News, air travel was down a shocking 60% in 2020 compared to the year before. At Advertise Purple, we also saw most of our clients in the travel and hospitality verticals being heavily affected, especially with revenues cut by 60% at times. 

It wasn’t just the stir-crazy feeling of being bound to our apartments, homes, cities, and states that made things overwhelming; it was a wholeheartedly challenging time. But, now? We might be a little closer to that picture of travel that I painted at the start. 

Just last Friday, TSA screened more than 1.35 million travelers, marking the most since the start of the pandemic. We’re talking 1.35 million people bustling through airports and 1.35 million boarding passes scanned. With that, travel and hospitality look like they’re making an exciting comeback. As vaccines become more available and restrictions loosen, our travel and hospitality verticals return to the performance we saw in February 2020. 

In the last month alone we’ve seen increases in performance across all indicators. Revenue by 18%, conversion rate by 14% (the greatest since January 2020), actions by 27% (the greatest since March 2020), and clicks by 12%. 

“With generally slim margins in the travel vertical, the Cost-Per-Acquisition model of the affiliate has always been lucrative for advertisers in this space,” says Jonathan M, our Chief Financial Officer. “With the impact of COVID on the industry, we saw a big dip in our number of advertisers and revenue since March of last year, but we have since seen a hockey stick-like recovery the last two months and expect that trend to continue.”

Our Director of Technology, Rowland H, has noticed the same trend in profiling data for the travel and hospitality verticals. “Since October 2020, we’ve seen a steady uptick in both traffic and revenue for Advertise Purple clients in these travel and hospitality verticals,” he says. “These steady increases can be seen as a strong indicator that the verticals should rebound as both the United States and the world continue to reopen their borders.” 

Isn’t it exciting to place a real timeframe to what once was only, “I hope I get to travel again someday”? With this recent travel growth, it’s not just “someday” anymore, it’s now. I know I’m pretty geeked at the idea of spending $20 on a delicious airport sandwich again. You?

The only ones more excited might be our travel and hospitality clients that have seen success through this long-awaited comeback. Airlines, parking lot services, and hotels have all been doing very well, according to our Senior Business Operations Manager, Manny S.

Even when travel suffered the most, Manny says his clients continued taking suggestions and guidance because of the relationship he built with them and the revenue growth they’ve experienced through their affiliate strategy. 

That definitely rang true for the former GM of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSteepFly.com,  Carlos Chillin. In our convo with him last year, he said he’d continue going strong with his affiliate program despite changes COVID brought to his businesses.

Right on, Carlos. As we now know, a year later, that choice wasn’t a fruitless one. Circling back to those across-the-board increases we’ve seen in performance, you probably want some deets, huh? How have we helped generate revenue and traffic in the middle of this pretty chaotic time for travel? Was it magic? 

Well, yes! Of the affiliate sort. Manny suggests that these recent successes come from consumer confidence and the implementation of an effective affiliate strategy. 

“During a time of decreased traffic, it becomes so important to have retargeting affiliates, cart abandonment affiliates, and more to eliminate cross-site shopping,” he remarks. “Because we were able to implement those affiliates in the program, our clients have been experiencing compounding growth.” 

And we love to see it. To wit, Manny was cool enough to speak a bit more on some of the best strategies for regaining traction in the travel and hospitality verticals. Right now, he says he’s targeting all travel blogs and booking content almost every day. As lockdowns get lifted, eager travelers will flock to blogs where they’ll learn about places they need to visit, restriction guidelines, and how to travel efficiently. 

“It is imperative to capitalize on that high-intent traffic,” Manny adds. “We also still hold to what we do best, which is affiliate roster diversification.”

Wait, what does this mean? 

“So, the most successful affiliate programs have a robust and diversified portfolio of affiliates consisting of shopping, cashback, loyalty, and content sites,” he clarifies. “To regain traction, we study the data, plug any holes in the program, and optimize with all types of affiliates to target the consumer across every part of the funnel. The data tells the story. You just need to listen to it.” 

And if we do — listen, that is — Manny anticipates a steep incline in revenue, traffic, and conversions over the next few months, especially as consumers become more comfortable traveling for work or visiting family and friends they haven’t been able to see in a year. 

Well, if that cheesy “ life is a roller coaster” adage is true, aren’t we all about ready for that steep incline? 

Until the next flight.

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