Travel and Entertainment Spend Returns

Phil Sahuc, Director of Client Marketing, Travel & Entertainment, Valassis
Published Thursday, Nov 1, 2018

Travel and Entertainment Spend Returns

Travel and entertainment expenditures have returned following the long recession that began in 2008. This is good news for marketers who can now re-engage consumers with money in their pockets ready to spend on trips and fun outings. In fact, the industry has been growing beyond the pre-recession peak for the past five years, so marketers should seize the opportunity armed with a better understanding of the consumer’s planning cycle. My advice – let the consumer journey inform your advertising strategy. Consider making data-driven decisions.

Our leisure travel destinations and entertainment activities are influenced by multiple factors including activity, generation and life stage. Age and income influence our destination and how much we spend, but also consider how the destination or event impacts when we plan. When it comes to going to a paid concert, for example, most people plan weeks or months ahead. Movie-goers, on the other hand, generally make their decisions that day or the day before.

For simplicity, we can divide planning cycles into short (a few weeks or less) and long- term (one or more months). The ebook “Playing to Win the Entertainment and Travel Dynamic Shopper” provides insights into consumer behavior when it comes to entertainment and travel, based on responses from more than 1,700 participants.

Overall, baby boomers tend to plan earlier. Parents and millennial parents take a more short-term approach. For example, 69 percent of boomers plan at least one month or more when going to a paid concert compared to 29 percent of millennial parents. Similarly, 52 percent of boomers plan a month or more ahead when going to a live theater show compared to 24 percent of millennial parents. It’s important to know your audience.

Distance Influences Travel Planning

“Getaway” vacations, often close to home, typically have shorter planning cycles. The survey found that 52 percent of travelers planning trips within their home state or to an amusement park with an overnight stay plan a few weeks or less in advance. Casino trips with an overnight stay are planned by 59 percent of travelers in this short period of time.

Substantial trips of greater distance and length of stay, as expected, typically have longer planning cycles. In fact, 73 percent of travelers plan domestic travel outside their home state one to as much as 12 months in advance. International travel is planned by 69 percent during this same period. Likewise, cruises are planned during this longer period by 58 percent of travelers.  

Entertainment Decisions Tend to be Spontaneous

Spontaneous decisions are more the norm for movie attendance and casino day trips. Sixty-two percent of consumers decide to see a movie in a theatre the day of or day prior to attending. Casino day trips are planned by 49 percent of consumers during this same period and jumps to 73 percent when one week prior is added.

Sports are a mixed field of both short- and long-term planning lead times, with professional, college and amateur events differing slightly. According to the Valassis Awareness-to-Activation Study, 53 percent make their pro sports event decisions in one week or less. Similarly, 60 percent plan their college sports outings in one week or less. Amateur event decisions tend to be more spontaneous with 71 percent deciding during this same short period.

Live performances and paid concerts are the exception and tend to have some of the greatest advanced planning. Actually, 38 percent of those attending a live performance like a play or the ballet plan one or more months in advance. Only 21 percent are making day of or day prior decisions. Paid concerts are similar with 48 percent planning one or more months prior and only 17 percent the day of or day prior.

 Planning Cycle Data Enhances Your Advertising Decisions

As advertisers, understanding planning cycle data is important to build timely campaigns. It’s about getting the right message to the right audience at the right time. Today’s consumer uses technology to research and purchase, an evolution which has grown over the past decade. If we understand the consumer’s planning cycle, this data set will help create actionable campaigns.

Past purchase history identifies your known consumers and in-market signals isolate those ready to purchase. All that remains is to identify the best media to reach travel-ready and entertainment-seeking consumers. It’s about listening to the consumer, letting data work for you and playing to win in the entertainment and travel category.