Summer is here and that means packed bags, stamped passports, and sunscreen-slathered faces as US travelers jet their way around the world! We took a look at the Marin Global Digital Advertising index to see how a strengthening US dollar and falling gas prices affected how consumers planned their vacations this year.

Up in the Air

We started our journey by exploring airline and hotel clients in the US that deal in international travel, particularly to Europe. While exchange rates fell from 0.728 USD/EUR to 0.902 USD/EUR, US travelers were eager to take advantage of the strong dollar and weak Euro. Due to high demand:

  • Impressions grew by 10%
  • Clicks increased by 24%
  • Engagement rate with travel-related advertisements grow by 13%
  • Advertisers increased their investment on key search terms by 35%
  • Consequently, CPCs on these keywords went up by 9%

Airlines reported that this increased demand for summer travel to Europe allowed them to sell seats out early, with no need to cut prices to fill planes.

On the Road Again

For tourists who’d rather travel by automobile than plane, we saw similar trends when examining the effect of gas prices on domestic US travel. As gas prices fell, US consumer interest in road trips to domestic landmarks – such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, or major urban cities like New York and Chicago – showed a marked bump. Here’s what we found, year-over-year:

  • Impressions grew 5%
  • Clicks were up 27%
  • Consumers engaged with domestic travel advertising 21% more often
  • Advertiser cost per click increased 23%

The difference between the higher gas price dates (April 2014) and the lowest ones (January 2015) showed a stunning 48% difference in engagement rates for domestic travel terms in these industries.

US travelers are having a blast this season as low gas prices and exchange rates make their summer vacations more affordable than ever. These two factors created ripples for digital marketers in the travel industry that can’t be ignored. The smart advertiser managed to leverage them to reach hopeful vacationers much more ready to convert than last year.