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As the U.S. digital travel sales are projected to rocket past $300 billion in 2024, the pressing question is: How should your hotel leverage this spending frenzy? The answer is glaring yet often overlooked—direct channels. Hotels can no longer afford to ignore leveraging the latest tools and techniques to convert this traffic if they aim to thrive in the digital marketplace.

The New Landscape of Digital Ad Spend

According to data from Insider Intelligence, digital travel sales are expected to climb 20.0% to an eye-watering $296.77 billion in 2023, up from $208.44 billion in 2019. The figures are slated to shatter the $350 billion mark by 2027. Consequently, digital ad spend in the travel sector has followed suit, expanding at double-digit rates. After scaling down during the pandemic, the U.S. travel industry has clawed its way back, becoming the fastest-growing sector in digital advertising, even outpacing retail.

Why Direct Channels? At the heart of this industry-wide boom are companies in the accommodations sector—think hotels, Airbnb, VRBO—collectively contributing $2.7 billion in online ad spending. With such a torrent of traffic funneling into hotel websites, it’s time to refocus efforts on direct channels.

The Cost of Negligence Yet, the behemoth that is digital ad spend is not an unqualified blessing. Hotels incur substantial costs when relying on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and other third-party platforms. Not only do these platforms eat into profit margins, but they also rob hotels of valuable customer data. Hence, failing to act on direct channels is an expensive oversight.

The Driving Force: Search Advertising

Search advertising, contributing a massive $3.92 billion—or 57.7%—to the digital ad market, serves as a significant catalyst. This presents a remarkable opportunity for hotels to optimize their Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts and convert this spend into actual bookings via direct channels.

The stakes are exceptionally high, and the need for a shift in focus has never been more acute. As digital ad spending skyrockets, the onus is on hotels to make the most of this windfall by redoubling their efforts on direct channels. It’s not just about getting feet through the door; it’s about ensuring those feet walk through your door directly, cutting out the middleman and retaining more profit.

The Takeaway Key Points:

  1. Surge in Digital Ad Spending: The travel industry is the fastest-growing sector in digital ad spend, necessitating hotels to leverage this effectively.
    • Why: It provides a backdrop for the urgency for hotels to revamp their digital strategies.
  2. Significance of Direct Channels: Given the enormous digital ad spending in the accommodation sector, hotels should prioritize direct channels.
    • Why: It’s a cost-effective way for hotels to maximize revenue and control customer data.
  3. Role of Search Advertising: Hotels should focus on Search Engine Marketing to convert digital ad spend into direct bookings.
    • Why: It’s the most potent driver of digital ad spend, presenting an opportunity for conversion.

The Bottom Line:

The key for hoteliers is to convert the rising digital ad spend into profitable bookings through direct channels, ultimately reducing costs and driving growth.

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Which sector is the fastest-growing in terms of digital ad spend in the U.S.?
    • A) Retail
    • B) Technology
    • C) Travel
    • D) Food & Beverage
  2. What percentage of the digital ad market does search advertising contribute?
    • A) 25.7%
    • B) 57.7%
    • C) 40.5%
    • D) 33.9%
  3. What is the projected growth rate of digital travel sales from $208.44 billion in 2019 to 2023?
    • A) 12.5%
    • B) 18.6%
    • C) 20.0%
    • D) 15.7%

Michael J. Goldrich, Vivander Advisors: A leading consultancy enterprise specializing in comprehensive hospitality services, including digital marketing, generative AI consulting, media strategy, and project management. Our aim is to empower hotels and brands to increase their revenue and cut costs through a unique approach to profit optimization.

Answers: 1) C, 2) B, 3) C

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