by Seth BUTERA July 3, 2021
For travel marketers, the next few months in 2021 are a make-or-break moment.
As brands navigate which consumers are likely to book a quick overnight over versus who’s itching to jump on a plane to cross the border, or even overseas, it will be critical to target messaging based on travel readiness.
More than ever, travel marketers need accurate, granular data to target individuals and connect with them on a deeper level – one that makes them feel seen, heard, and, most of all, protected.
After all, anxieties are running high this season – but people are also in need of a vacation.
So what does the new normal look like across acquisition, experience and loyalty marketing as travelers – both eager and cautious ones – emerge from lockdown?
Booking a trip doesn’t look like it used to. Back in the good old days of travel, a consumer would start daydreaming of a safari game drive in Masai Mara or trekking the mighty gorillas in Rwanda, research a few hotels, book a flight and go. Now, you need to go deep into the preferences of travelers to understand what will make them feel comfortable enough to hit “book a stay.”
According to research carried out by Resonate, 29% of eager travelers (i.e., those planning to travel this summer) book through travel sites when they want to get the best deals. Hotels and airlines should consider how they can emphasize the savings of booking directly.
Likewise, 15% of travelers say they’ll start traveling when they see others travel. That means travel marketers need to be putting more effort into encouraging visitors to share their destinations and experiences with their friends and family.
This is particularly important when reaching eager travelers, who are more likely than average to look to social media for planning ideas and research.
In addition, 21% of both eager travelers and cautious travelers (i.e., those waiting until at least October to travel) say their likelihood to review a cancellation policy has increased. This could be the make or break in booking, meaning travel brands need to pay special attention to how they can help customers feel confident that their trips are protected.
Booking the trip is only the first step. With travelers who may not have spent a night away from home in over a year, the experience needs to be top-notch in order to make them feel good about returning to vacation life.
Just under 35% of both eager and cautious travelers say the main reason to book travel is to spend time with family. Thus, travel brands should focus on putting the idea of getting together with family at the core of their advertising right now.
Also, especially given that both groups of travelers are more likely to value tolerance than the average traveler, brands should acknowledge all the forms that “family” can take in their creativity.
Additionally, 36% of eager and cautious travelers list pleasure as a top travel value. Remember, after a long, hard year, these travelers want to experience fun. They want to relax.
In addition, 37% of eager travelers are willing to pay more for luxury. Travel brands should have their upgrades at the ready.
Once that first trip has been taken and travelers are feeling confident that, OK, that wasn’t so bad, it’s time to encourage them to book the next. Given that, almost half of each traveler group hasn’t stayed in a hotel in over a year and 66% haven’t gotten on a flight, rebuilding loyalty may not be as simple as reminding them of their miles waiting to be redeemed.
We’re right back where we once were: Nearly a quarter of both eager and cautious travelers list the best price as a top consideration when booking a flight, and more than 40% say price range is a top consideration for hotel stays. In other words: deals, deals, deals.
Getting these travelers back on board is going to come down to tempting them with deals. So, when travel brands are thinking of loyalty, they might want to consider breaking out their “stay once, stay twice, get a third stay free” offers.
More than anything, travel brands need to keep pace. In the coming months, travelers will flood back onto planes and into hotels. But as they do, they expect brands to acknowledge what they’ve been through this past year and to meet them where they are in their journeys back to regular life.
To do that, brands need to continually refresh the insights that guide their campaigns.