Summer is here! And with many states continuing to reopen, Americans are ready to get out of the house and enjoy summer travel. According to research from TravelWeek and TripScout, “90% of people that canceled travel plans still plan to take a trip this year and 77% plan to go by the end of October”.
That said, travel plans for 2020 will look different than in the prior years. Many people will choose to travel in less social ways than before the pandemic, turning to their cars instead of planes, buses or cruise ships. The roads may have been traffic-free during the height of the pandemic, but research from the OAAA suggests they are soon to be full of travelers choosing road trips over flights. According to a survey of summer vacationers taken by the OAAA, 62% plan to travel by personal car this year, an impressive leap of 72%. And while they are on the road, 69% plan to spend the same amount of money or more than last year - “a potential boon for hotels, dining, retail, and tourism”.
While Out of Home (OOH) advertising has always been highly effective, the pandemic has generated changes in travel patterns that have the potential to generate even greater opportunities for brands to increase reach and awareness with different demographics. For example, the OAAA found that the demographic on the roads this summer will heavily consist of 18-24 year olds, giving advertisers a rare chance to reach these highly coveted consumers with digital OOH advertising at a higher level.
With travel already starting to pick up, it is vital for advertisers to start taking advantage of these new travel patterns using OOH media, particularly because 83% of people planning a vacation will not see television commercials.
We are already seeing some great examples of brands leveraging the power of OOH to reach summer travelers early in the season. With the OAAA survey finding that 54% of travelers plan to rent accommodations with hotel/motel the most favored at 27%, Omni Hotels & Resorts and Texas Tourism are both using programmatic digital OOH media across the US to reach consumers during this spiked period of travel interest.
Tourism and hotels are not the only advertising categories that can benefit from the influx of road travelers. The food industry stands to gain as well. According to a survey from Pilot Flying J, road trippers will feel most comfortable stopping at fast food restaurants (48%), travel centers/gas stations (41%), only places they know have increased their cleaning procedures (41%) and non-fast food restaurants (41%). It is prime time for food and beverage brands and restaurants to be advertising to those on the road. But, in doing so, they must be mindful that vacationers primarily want reassuring messages. The OAAA found that consumers are most likely to respond to advertising messages that focus on general cleanliness (32%) and social distancing rules (31%) as the primary messages, with availability of activities (28%) and special pricing/discounts (27%) secondarily.
In the real world, all this research is proving to hold up. Todd Graves, CEO of Raising Cane’s, has been using Lamar Digital OOH to remind travelers of Cane’s response to the pandemic by displaying pictures of employees wearing masks and gloves. Graves said, “Using that timely response really affected our sales and where we are today because it got in people’s heads early. I can go to Cane’s, the drive-thru is a good format to do it, their people are using proper sanitization and it’s a safe place for me to get food.” Raising Cane’s found out firsthand that OOH is a great way to remind consumers that business is open and is a safe place to go.
In terms of where travelers will be heading this summer, the OAAA found that 39% plan to vacation in the south, with Florida (16%) as the top destination. With this research in hand, 76 Gasoline is using Lamar programmatic advertising throughout the south to reach the increased number of travelers and to remind travelers to gas up while on the road.
It turns out, adults aren’t the only ones noticing billboards on road trips. When my family’s trip to Disney World was canceled this summer, we packed up and took a family road trip to the beach. On the drive down, I asked my kids where they wanted to stop to eat. Just as we drove by a Raising Cane’s digital billboard, my youngest, Wesley, decided he wanted Cane’s for lunch. So, we ate at Cane’s for lunch. Wesley wanted Cane’s because he saw the OOH ad, but it easily could have been any other restaurant, a great lesson for any brand seeking to attract the attention of road trippers this summer.
But restaurants are not the only food and beverage brands that should be advertising to travelers right now. Many people who take road trips stop at the store once they arrive at their destination to stock up on food and supplies. So, Stella Artois is using Lamar’s programmatic technology to remind travelers of legal age to pick up Stella once they arrive at their vacation destination.
There are lots of opportunities to use OOH to advertise to travelers. Now is the time to launch a digital OOH campaign to reach the influx of consumers who are venturing out of quarantine and taking a road trip to their summer destination. Digital OOH has the unique ability to change messages quickly and easily to tailor your message as consumer behavior, demand, and situational contexts evolve this summer. Like Todd Graves said, “It's just dynamic and the dynamic keeps people engaged.” More information on the consumer summer travel survey can be found here.