The U.S. Travel Association has a simple message for the country: Let’s go there. Anywhere. Literally, anywhere. It doesn’t have to be tomorrow, but please, put something on the calendar.
Launched this morning, the new campaign titled “Let’s Go There” is a collaboration between prominent USTA members including Marriott, Disney, Delta and American Airlines, along with an additional 70 brands, with the simple aim of renewing travel demand.
“Let’s make some plans, let’s feel a feeling once again,” says the ad’s narrator over shots of sandy beaches, lush forests, shimmering oceans and Walt Disney World’s iconic Cinderella Castle. Yes, some travel demand has returned. But for those who aren’t comfortable with getting back out there yet, the idea of planning a vacation—and most crucially, booking one—is enough.
Although the commercial doesn’t convey a sense of urgency, the message couldn’t be more serious as widespread layoffs have struck the entire industry. Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council estimated that the U.S. economy will miss out on $155 billion in 2020 because of the loss of international travel, putting nearly 12.1 million jobs at risk.
The advertisement is planned to run across NBC, ABC, CBS and twice during ESPN’s Monday Night Football on Sept. 14, in addition to other networks. USTA is also advertising digitally on YouTube and Hulu.
“If you’re going to get eyeballs and to start to change travelers’ considerations again, live sports is where it’s at,” said Brian King, global officer of digital, distribution, revenue strategy and sales at Marriott. “We’re paying attention to the [traveler] that’s stuck in the middle—they want to go but are asking, ‘Can I go, should I go?’ Their sentiment is changing.”
But why not just make your own Marriott campaign?
“You have to be pragmatic,” King said. “Industry sales have literally cratered the inflow of how much you can spend. If we all went out on our own, it would have been splintered and so small that there would have been no impact whatsoever.”
The campaign has been in the works for some time, according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of USTA.
“When we started this, we thought we would probably try and launch in July. The concept was ‘Save the Summer’ and plan for the future. Then the spike occurred,” he said, adding that the nation’s patchwork of travel restrictions had made the campaign more difficult to time and execute.
The summer holidays have offered only the slightest bit of positive news. According to data marketing firm Adara, air bookings for Labor day weekend made between July 1 and Aug. 17 were down 77%, and hotel bookings were down 54% year over year.
The decision to run the campaign after the Labor Day holiday was made so that it could inspire an “extended summer travel season” that travel executives are hoping for. In fact, it was created to be malleable so that USTA’s own members could spin their own branded versions of the campaign.
Current plans will see the campaign running through 2021, with a pause between October and November so as not to get lost in the noise of the election. And when the time is right, the campaign will get a tweak from “Let’s Go There” to “Let’s Go Meet There,” a nod to help support and push business travelers, so crucial to the airline and hospitality industries.
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