How to craft an effective travel advertisement

Travel advertisement - plan ahead


The travel advertising business is highly competitive, so how can you make your campaign stand out?
We cover top tips on both pre-production and production, taking a look at target audiences, USPs, effective storytelling and stunning visuals.
By studying some of our favorite travel advertisements, we can understand what makes them so great and take inspiration for our own travel marketing campaigns.
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The classic narrative in the travel industry over the past few years goes something like this: after an extremely bleak period where practically nobody could travel because of the pandemic, people were itching to get out there once restrictions were lifted. By and large, that’s exactly what has happened in the years since Covid-19 receded as a global pandemic. After a bumpy few years, everyone involved in the travel industry might have a little more to smile about as visitors return in record numbers.

Of course, there are 195 countries in the world, which means quite a lot of competition. If you’re working in the travel advertisement business, how exactly do you ensure you stand out? How can you grab people’s attention with your travel commercials and get those bums on plane seats? In 2022, travel and tourism industries contributed an impressive 7.6% to the global GDP and with that forecast to rise as the industry continues to bounce back, the art of crafting a successful travel advertisement is valuable knowledge.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride as we give you the lowdown on how to thrive in the competitive world of travel advertising.

Planning ahead

Before anything is signed off and long before the cameras can start rolling on your next big set of travel commercials, you need to have a clear plan and vision in place. To help you craft this, consider the following:

Who is your target audience?

Just like any other marketing campaign, your travel advertisement needs to be clear on the target audience. By defining exactly who you want to reach and connect with, you’ll be much better positioned to come up with a brand aesthetic and effective campaign that achieves those goals.

It’s important to remember that different types of travelers are seeking very different experiences, so you need to consider all the factors of age, interests, spending power, and other preferences. Backpackers will want very different things compared to a family on holiday or a honeymooning couple.

What’s the destination?

This may seem a little obvious, but it’s worth confirming and honing in on exactly what you’re selling. Is it the whole country? Or is it just a particular region within that country, like the mountains or the coast? It could just be the capital city or various other locations, too.

What is your budget?

Next up, what’s the budget you’re working with? It’s all well and good having a grand idea that showcases George Clooney enjoying various parts of your destination in the highest luxury, but if you don’t have the money to shoot that particular commercial, the idea isn’t getting out of the boardroom.

As many who’ve worked on big brand commercials will tell you, “More money” doesn’t necessarily mean “better travel commercials”, either. The best travel ad will often come from a team that knows exactly what their budget is and makes every penny count. Adjust and work accordingly.

What are the USPs?

Once you’ve got an audience and destination nailed down, you can start to consider the USPs (unique selling points). If you don’t understand your own attractions, culture, history, and natural beauty, how could your audience? Make sure you know exactly why your destination is worth visiting, and focus on highlighting these unique aspects

Additionally, emphasize what it is that sets you apart from others. Is it the unique experiences no other destination can offer? Is it the unbeatable prices or the exclusive amenities? All of this needs to be identified so that your USPs really shine.

What’s the CTA?

Your campaign’s success is going to be defined by how many people act after seeing your travel advertisements. So what is it you want them to do? Is it booking a trip with a certain airline or signing up for a newsletter? Do you want them to head to a certain website for more information? Be clear on what you’re asking people to do, and have that as your call to action within the commercial.

How to create a great travel advertisement

With the above definition, you should clearly envision what kind of travel advertisement you’re looking to create. Next, look at some top tips for creating something unique that stands out from everything else.

Connect with people

While we’d all like to think of ourselves as rational and logical, the stats don’t lie. When it comes to making decisions about purchases, humans base their decisions on how they feel rather than what they think. People act on their emotions, so any effective travel advertisement needs to make them feel something.

Because this is the world of travel commercials, your best bet is to go for a positive emotion such as joy, wanderlust or humor. If you can use one or more of these emotions to form a deep connection with your audience, there’ll be a much higher conversion rate.

Can your travel ad get your audience to engage with their feelings and memories? You want to create that thrill of adventure, the appeal of relaxation and switching off, and the love and nostalgia of connecting with loved ones while experiencing new things.

Tell a story

Perhaps the best way to do all of this is to tell a story. Brand storytelling is essential to any great marketing campaign. You can’t just list your USPs and expect everyone to book their tickets based on that. To get people connected and invested, you need to share anecdotes and experiences that draw people in and place them in the destination so they can feel and taste it.

Work with talent

It certainly never hurts to get a recognizable face involved in your travel commercials if they fit your target audience. We mentioned George Clooney earlier, but it could also be the less traditional A-list celebrity. What about working with influencers who fit your brand and campaign? Influencers tend to come with a large and loyal following. If they vouch for something, their audience really listens and acts.

Use stunning visuals

This one is a no-brainer, but let’s be clear. Stunning visuals are essential to any travel advertisement. If we’re making a travel commercial, then it’s all about the cinematic visuals and how they can do your destination justice.

Think about the vast, sprawling sand dunes of Morocco’s deserts or the towering Himalayan peaks in Nepal. There are the iconic movie locations to tick off all around New York and London, while the waterfalls of Iceland offer jaw-dropping wonder. Work with your destination’s best assets and show them off in the most beautiful way possible.

Sometimes (and especially if you’re watching the budget or thinking about logistics), the best way to achieve this can be by utilizing Artlist’s stock footage. You’ll find stunning cinematic clips captured worldwide, ready for you to use immediately.

Get unlimited royalty-free 4K footage

Pick the right music

Alongside breathtaking visuals, you’ll want to ensure you pick the right travel music for your commercial. Getting the right royalty-free music for travel videos is no easy task, but it makes sense to start with your destination. Can the destination’s traditional music feature in your travel advertising, further embedding the culture and history? Or do you have a very specific type of song in mind?

Either way, using the search features on Artlist is the best way to find that perfect piece of music for travel videos. Searching either by keywords (“India” or “Turkey”,  for example) or using filters such as mood, genre, video theme, and instrument, you’ll find exactly what you need when it comes to music for travel videos.

Get creative

There are new travel ads being launched and promoted every single day, so it’s safe to say that audiences probably suffer from ad fatigue. In order to stand out and grab their attention, don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little bit and do something different!

Examples of great travel commercials
Now that you know what it takes to create great travel advertisements, let’s take a look at some examples that showcase these tips in action.


Artlist’s song used in Expedia’s commercial

This Expedia Jamaica commercial is one of the best examples of storytelling when it comes to travel campaigns. In a 1 minute ad, we feel a wealth of emotions that, as people have admitted in the YouTube comments, may even make you cry.

The story is clear – Wisdom (the father) is working hard and saving because he wants to take Obi (his son) to the ocean in Jamaica for the first time. Paired together with a touching melody from Artlist, it’s emotional and beautiful, leaving no doubt that Expedia are the ones that can make you feel these same things on your own travel experience. There’s a reason Expedia Commercials are renowned for being some of the best in the industry.


This travel film from Kay is a wonderful example of how a well-crafted, cinematic travel video should look and feel. It showcases the very best Iceland has to offer and lives up to the epic scale with some equally epic beats from Artlist, as well as using a wide range of our sound effects, making the film even more immersive and experiential. It’s big, it’s wild, and it’s all waiting for you. Buy those tickets!

Artlist’s songs used in Kay’s travel video

Tourism Australia Ad

This Australian campaign featuring Kylie Minogue knew exactly what they were doing. Aimed at British holidaymakers, it’s an olive branch that taps into the Brit’s psyche like no other nation can. It’s a brilliant showcase of Aussie humor, it features a well-known celebrity, Kylie Minogue (who’s particularly popular in the UK), and it taps into a timely, relevant event, referencing the difficulties of Brexit trade deals at the time. Bravo, Australia. This one ticks a lot of boxes.

Istanbul Go Turkiye Ad

Check out these two short, attention-demanding 30-second ads for Istanbul. Immediately, there’s a clear brand aesthetic and target audience in mind. Istanbul is the new, coolest place to be, especially if you’re a young millennial or Gen-Z.

Beautiful, cinematic shots of the city are paired with a catchy Turkish beat as we see young, attractive people having all kinds of fun, enjoying the rich blend of culture, nightlife, history, and food that this famous world city has to offer. According to Euromonitor, the advertising campaign is clearly doing something right because Istanbul was the world’s most visited city in 2023!

Sam Newton’s travel film

Sam Newton is a renowned travel filmmaker with whom we’ve had the pleasure of working for a number of years now. His film “Life of a Travel Videographer” draws from 3 year’s worth of footage shot in over 30 countries. We’re drawn into and immersed in these environments by using Artlist assets in both the music choice and the many sound effects. Toward the back end of the film, Sam tells us a real, emotional story that further connects us to this film. If this won’t make you want to run out the door and hit the road, we’re not sure what will.

Artlist’s song used in Sam Newton’s film

Wrapping up

So, here’s the rundown of what makes a travel advertisement campaign stand out in a highly competitive industry. Before anything else, you need to craft a clear, coherent vision and understand your goals. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little bit when it comes to production. Find your story, hone in on the emotion, pick the right song, and make use of all the assets available to you.

The Expedia commercial from 2023 is a great example of this – they’ve made the most of Artlist music for business, working closely alongside a dedicated account manager to curate assets and really fine-tune their production, ensuring it’s the very best travel advertisement it can be. To talk about your own creative needs, contact sales today.

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Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.

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