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How to Build Clickable Travel and Hospitality Ads, According to AI

How to Build Clickable Travel and Hospitality Ads, According to AI

The travel and hospitality industry has seen its fair share of volatility. Try these data-backed insights into trends projected to pay off.

Given the last couple of years, it can feel as though nothing is guaranteed, least of all the ability to travel. With the pandemic continuing its surge, some destinations are completely off limits.

Alongside our less useful passports and cancelled flights comes a slew of unpredictable hurdles for the travel and tourism industry itself. 

Consumer habits, behaviors, and desires have changed throughout these trying times, and they’re continuing to change—and quickly.

Thankfully, artificial intelligence tracks how these behaviors impact creative trends for the travel industry in real time. By studying billions of digital marketing data points, Shutterstock.AI answered the following:

What locations and destinations are most engaging in travel photography?How should marketers show people traveling in their ads? (On planes? Cars? Trains?)What activities are people most likely to click on, when looking at a tourism ad? Where do people want to stay while on vacation?

Data has the details on what creative decisions perform best for every industry. Let’s see what trends AI has surfaced for travel and hospitality, specifically.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Image via R K Sewell Photography.

Showcase a Variety of Outdoor Getaways 

It’s a nearly-universal trend. Across almost every industry, outdoor photography has higher click-through rates (CTRs) than photography set indoors—and this rings true for the travel industry. In fact, photos set outdoors are 140% more clickable for travel-focused audiences. 

Considering the popularity of outdoor and socially-distant vacation options, what are customers clicking on the most? Advertisers have a few choices for where to set their ads for maximum clickability. 

Mountain getaways are among the most engaging destinations for travel ads. Creative set in the mountains has consistently seen its performance rise every year, including throughout the pandemic. Images of mountains have seen their CTR surge 627% since 2019.

The clickability of hiking has increased 204%, and the clickability of skiing has risen 175% over the same period. 

Mountain Lake

Family Hiking

Ski Tour

Mountain Hiker
Adventurous or peaceful, mountain vacation pictures are what consumers click most. Images via kovop58, Jacob Lundzedspider, Olga Danylenko, and Jacob Lund.

Parks are among some of the most clickable destinations too. This could be due to skyrocketing visitation to parks throughout the pandemic. Whatever the cause, AI has observed the CTR of parks rise 118% over the last two years. 

Other types of outdoor parks have seen increases in engagement, too. The clickability of zoos has increased 243% since 2019. Amusement parks are also in, with their CTR going up 80% over the same time period.

Carousel in Munich

Snake Terrarium


Elephants at the Zoo
AI’s tip: Stay away from Ferris wheels. Their CTR dropped, but the clickability of roller coasters is up 142%. Images via Wolfilser, Dragon Images, bdomanska, and Tatiana Litvinova.

People Want to Sleep in Seclusion

This may sound counterintuitive, but data backs it up. For the travel and tourism industry, the most engaging sleeping accommodations are tents. 

That’s right. Camping has become wildly popular due to the pandemic’s travel restrictions and ongoing waves, and this trend carries through to advertising.

Consumers are significantly more likely to click on an image of a tent than any other type of accommodation. In fact, tents are 380% more clickable than resorts and 445% more clickable than hotels.

This data goes hand-in-hand with travel and hospitality trends, as engagement with camping-themed creative has risen 137% over the last two years. 

Campers Having Fun

Camping Under the Stars

Campers Relaxing

Friends Camping at Night
Set your vacation pictures in a mountain campground for a double-win. Images via, TSLPhoto, Jacob Lund, and anatoliy_gleb.

Beyond tents, villas are the only other vacation accommodations that have seen their CTR recover to pre-pandemic levels. Perhaps due to the seclusion and social distancing they offer, imagery of villas have bounced back with a 39% higher CTR than they had in 2020. 

Pool Party

Hanging Wicker Chair

Kids Luxury Travel

Luxury Villa

Couple Relaxing Outdoors
Hotels, resorts, and cabins haven’t yet recovered from the drop in clickability that COVID-19 brought on. Images via oneinchpunch, PhotoSunnyDays, NadyaEugene, What Diana Did, and RossHelen.

Relax and Unwind

No matter where you set your ads, some activities stand out for their supercharged performance metrics. AI tells us that relaxation will be a top priority in 2022, and this trend is showing up in the travel industry.

For example, AI found the following relaxing activities rise in engagement: 

Painting’s CTR has risen 34% since 2019. Swimming’s CTR is up 131% since 2019. The clickability of dancing took a plunge during the pandemic, but it’s risen 129% over the last year. The CTR of reading fell from 2019 to 2020, but it bounced back to pre-pandemic engagement levels. This makes reading a highly clickable activity for this industry. 
Artist Painting on Beach

Couple Painting Together

Reading at the Beach

Modern Dancers
Relaxation is key. These are the best ways to show it. Images via sashafolly, eggeegg,, and Lucky Business.

If you want to include a relaxing meal in your vacation photography, AI suggests breakfast. While lunch has decreased in clickability, and dinner has increased, breakfast is the most engaging meal in tourism ads.

In fact, breakfast is 116% more clickable than dinner. And, when it comes to drinks, AI says liquor is the most clickable, with a 9% higher CTR than beer. 

Friends Having Cocktails

Light Breakfast

Fancy Cocktails

Luxury Breakfast
Wine is fine, but liquor is clickier. Add a mimosa to your leisurely breakfast. It’s vacation! Images via Dulin, Africa Studio, wavebreakmedia, and Maridav.

Show How They’ll Get There 

The restrictions put into place from COVID-19 immediately impacted how we travel. This means that virtually all transit methods fell in clickability from 2019 to 2020. The good news? Most of them are starting to recover. Still, there are a few tricks to the trade when it comes to selecting top-performing transit methods. 

For example, imagery of airports have seen a 42% CTR boost since last year. At the same time, though, airplanes are stuck at significantly lower levels of engagement. With this data in mind, AI suggests showing off airports in your ads, instead of the planes themselves. 

While other transportation methods continue to falter for the industry, AI has detected growth in a few others. Images of buses have seen a 133% CTR increase since 2020. Cars are also on their way up, with a 112% CTR boost over the last year. 

Father and Son at Airport

Travel by Bus

Airport Lounge

Bus Ride in Mountains

Tourists on Back Roads
Opt for the airport lounge or a leisurely road trip to get your audience to click. Images via LightField Studios,, Jacob Lund, visualgang, and Tatiana Gekman.

Cover image via zedspider.

The post How to Build Clickable Travel and Hospitality Ads, According to AI appeared first on The Shutterstock Blog.

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