The problem with travel ads

Advertising flights on Facebook is hard. Primarily because when people want to buy a flight they will usually Google something like “flights from Dublin to Berlin” and they will get search results like the ones below:

They all look pretty much the same, and that’s understandable as most people will just base their decision on a single factor: price. That’s why meta-search websites like Skyscanner or Kayak are so popular: people search for a combination of low price and convenience regardless of the airline brand.

That also explains why Ryanair, although regarded as one of the worst airlines by passengers, it is also one of the most profitable air carriers.

Naturally, airlines will spend a lot of money on Google as they know it is a medium that people will use when they have the intent of buying a ticket to a specific destination.

However, air carriers also want to maintain or build a brand. And thus they will spend money on media like TV and Facebook.

But how do you differentiate on a medium like Facebook?

I searched for some travel ads on Zuck’s social network and most of them show that airlines don’t really have a plan for standing out. Take a look at the screenshots below:

What do you see? The same overused stock photos over and over again. The stereotypical image of a country that a tourist has and the most cliché sights.

If you remove the logo from the top-left corner of the Facebook post there’s no way of telling the ads apart. Try it yourself.

Yes, some of the ads feature the price, which might be a selling point, but remember that when someone sees a travel ad on Facebook they’re not necessarily planning a trip to that destination.

That’s not to say that the above ads are worthless.

The examples shown are Facebook Travel Ads and have a value as they can convince people when they are in the right mood for planning a holiday.

But how do you stand out on Facebook and make people follow your brand? I’d say give them something of value. Something that makes their life easier. Something that gives them an incentive to follow you and to tell their friends how cool this “something” is.

I know, easier said than done.

For example, KLM has built a really cool app that helps you measure your suitcase and lets you know if its dimensions are within the carry-on limits.

An ad on Facebook telling you about apps like this one that make your travel life easier, or one of the travel chatbots that make your booking experience more convenient are reasons to like a travel company for what they provide beyond just a good price.

An ad that convinces you to download an app or use a chatbot will make you a person who wants to travel with that airline because you believe the experience on the plane will also be enjoyable.

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