For many of us, a foreign holiday is a much-longed-for luxury, not experienced since the long-ago era of pre-pandemic 2019. For others, the potential for travel is becoming more and more of a reality. As restrictions lift, measures like proof of full vaccination make holiday plans more realistic. But how can travel marketing adapt to its new, wary audience?
If your brand is in the travel industry – be it accommodation, transport, or any other associated product or service – you’ve likely had to adapt massively to survive over the past two years. Unfortunately, that battle isn’t over quite yet.
Here’s a breakdown of what travel marketers should expect from the post-pandemic market, and how they can best serve it.
Have a Flexible Strategy 🤸♀️
Flexibility in your marketing strategy always has and always will be an asset, but now it’s more valuable than ever.
With traveller intent currently as subject to change as physically possible, your travel marketing strategy should be the same. The factors to consider are endless – government travel restrictions, rising and falling infection rates, access to PPE, the price of travel insurance, new variants emerging…
Being conscious and responsive to this unpredictability is essential to persuade customers to engage and invest in travel.
Always keep your finger on the pulse of local, national and international changes on a daily basis to ensure the most informed and up-to-date strategy possible.
The Gov.UK travel pages are an essential tool:
Keep Up With Trends and Anxieties 😖
“Thirty-six percent of people around the globe are now participating in some sort of travel activity. Moreover, travelers say they feel safer, with the perceived risk of taking a vacation down by 17% since January 2021.”
While some are chomping at the bit to get back out into the wide world, feeling fully vaxxed and beach-ready, others not so much. Understandably, travel anxiety has become far more widespread.
Health and safety are still high priorities for today’s travellers. This is demonstrated in the rise of domestic travel interest. Recent social media trends hype up UK natural beauty spots such as the Scottish highlands and islands, while UK road trip TikToks are rife.
When they do opt to fly, travellers may be more inclined to opt for short-haul destinations to avoid feeling stranded far from home in the case of a positive test or change in restrictions.
Last-minute options are also rising in popularity, as people feel less able to plan ahead, preferring to keep the smallest possible booking window in the hope that their trip is less likely to be cancelled.
Think about how you can cater to travellers’ needs and ease their anxieties with an understanding and human approach. This may involve offering inclusions such as access to COVID-19 testing, PPE, and flexible booking and cancellations.
Above all, stay relevant and responsive. Keep your travel marketing strategy dynamic and informed by both social media trends and customer feedback.
Reassure Consumers 💗
So you’ve been listening to consumer feedback and keeping your eyes on trends. Now let your customers know you are!
Use your travel marketing strategy to show off your COVID-friendly measures. Make health and safety, flexible booking and refund policies your most talked-about USPs.
Communication is key. Hotlines and accessible customer service could mean the difference between a consumer choosing your service over not travelling at all. Constantly update your audience about changes to restrictions, delays and other potential issues, both on a general and personal level. Make use of multiple touchpoints, from general updates on your social media to targeted emails to directly affected customers. This will help to build consumer trust at every level of their journey back to travel.
Crisis plans, guarantees, and flexibility to postpone or reschedule free of charge are now expected as standard by most consumers. Making the consumer feel secure and confident enough to return to travel again is the end goal of your travel marketing strategy, so invest in the communication tools to make this a reality.
Understand Your Target Audience 🎯
Everyone has reacted differently to the pandemic, and everyone wants something different from a holiday. Those two facts are now intertwined.
Who is your target audience and how have their needs changed in reaction to the pandemic?
Are you a gap year travel company aimed at young people? A campervan hire company targeting adventurous road trippers? A last-minute break deal provider? A package beach holiday company focussed on convenience? Or a luxury hotel booking service?
Many young people are taking advantage of long periods of work-from-home time, using the flexibility to see the world while still bringing in an income. Nomadic lifestyles and road trips have also gained popularity for the same reason.
People are keen to reconnect with nature and engage with self-care, so relaxed rural holidays and trips with a focus on sustainable tourism are on the rise. The #ecotourism has over 1.2 million Instagram posts and rising!
When it comes to families, the staycation holds appeal as it avoids the extra hassle and cost of COVID testing and uncertainty about changing restrictions.
Groups who may feel hyper-vigilant, such as the elderly or immunocompromised, may want stricter social distancing and cleaning regulations when they travel. Consider features like contact-free room service and free PPE if they apply.
Some consumers in the luxury market are willing to ‘trip stack’ in order to guarantee a holiday if one trip falls through. Others are travelling on a budget and taking advantage of the many cheap travel deals arising through uncertainty in the market.
Consider your target audience before making appropriate changes to your travel marketing strategy. What has changed in their priorities since the pandemic? Why are they travelling? What can you do to make travelling suit them?
Need advice about your marketing strategy? How about an audit?
At dmt, we have experience managing digital marketing for brands in a range of industries from fashion to food, and all sorts in between. Get in touch to find out more!