LONDON: Online travel firms are increasingly using television advertising as a means of establishing credibility with consumers, so much so that one industry figure has described this month as a "watershed moment in travel marketing".

"Television has largely been the domain of well-known high street brands and ads have followed a tried-and-tested formula," said Steve Dunne, vice-chairman of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's Travel Group (Cimtig).

"Now, online players are injecting a new energy into the holiday proposition," he told Travolution.

Dunne argued that online brands needed to be seen on television in order to grow awareness and gain trust. "This presents a clear and present threat, and could erode the reputational advantage mainstream players have enjoyed in the past," he said.

That was echoed by Dean Harvey, digital development director at advertising agency Designate. 

"If you are on TV, you are a credible brand," he said. "The power of TV has never gone away; we have just got distracted by the internet over the past 10 years."

Several online brands are investing seriously in television advertising in the UK for the first this month, including Kayak, a price comparison site owned by US giant Priceline.

A spokesman said the UK was a key market but one in which it had not previously invested significantly, so its new campaign had to stand out.

"We have invested in a heavyweight multi-touchpoint launch for the UK," he said. "We've started as we mean to go on."

At the other end of the scale is On The Beach, based in the UK's north west and which has just launched a national TV campaign taking in London for the first time.

"Last year we were fully national apart from London," said founder and chief executive Simon Cooper.

"The key thing for us was to understand the impact of offline advertising. We liked what we saw which is why we have extended it."

While much travel advertising is focused on the early part of the year, research from marketing technology firm Rocket Fuel shows that the average Briton finally books a holiday just 29 days before leaving.

Price, location and online reviews were the most important factors in their decision, with food and drink and the brand of the hotel listed as the least important.

Data sourced from Travolution; additional content by Warc staff