This Is What Happens When A Travel Brand Can’t Get Out Of Their Ad Budget

Hotels.com has still be advertising on TV, but their usual spots seem inappropriate right now and most importantly they aren’t going to be effective. People just are not booking hotels.

So according to a spokesperson, “For the airtime we had remaining, [Hotels.com] opted for a message that reinforces the guidance to stay home.”

Between March 11 – 22 Hotels.com “spent nearly $3 million on TV ads, with the majority on reality TV and movies.” You don’t have to be Captain Obvious to realize that’s a lower-return investment than a drive through strip club or bottled watered for pets.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Yup, non existent ROI. Like you said – this is due to not being able to get out of the ad buy. They’ll offset this somewhat in Q2, which is going to be rough(!) for media buyers and monitizers.

  2. Hmm, I guess the snarky and financial-only viewpoint is one way to look at it. However, ROI isn’t always measured on-the-spot, there are some things that travel brands seem to have forgotten lately, called “brand equity” and “customer lifetime value”. Personally, I think that these spots show the the company is bought-in to the current situation and doing its own quirky, on-brand part to help with the national effort. This builds goodwill and places them front-of-mind when travel does come back.

    Perhaps getting past the “whatever makes me the most money this instant” mindset might prevent travel companies from getting into future messes like the one they’re in right now…

  3. There are a ton of studies detailing brand equity during crisis of varying types. Companies spending through it and not going dark tend to see a much higher and faster lift coming out of it. Plus ad time is typically priced down and existing advertisers well cared for. I’m in TV sales. I’ll add to that likely nobody held anyone to cancellations. We didn’t, and we’re huge. The flip side to holding them to a cancel during a pandemic is that they simply won’t use that rep firm, ad agency, broker again. Not worth it.

  4. I was watching Bloomberg news on Friday and they kept running adds for a tour group company in Italy. Funny thing was you had to call within 30 minutes to get the discounted price. Guessing they phones were NOT ringing off the hook with people scrambling to book pasta making classes.

  5. “that’s a lower-return investment than a drive through strip club or bottled watered for pets.” Awesome.

  6. If you care about ROAS you need to be advertising on Google and Facebook. That’s it.

    Who watches TV anymore? Schmucks and hicks. Modern folks that have actual money to spend on your product or service are only reachable online where the only platforms that are immune to ad blockers are google search/maps and FB+IG.

  7. It might be a silly AD, but it still puts the name in front of, what is probably now, a very large captive audience. Once people feel safe to start travelling again, they might recall some of those silly ads they observed during their time in quarantine.

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