If hotel reservations and airline ticket sales are any indication, the travel market has resurged with a vengeance. Coastal destinations have experienced a 42% increase in bookings over the summer of 2019, and mountain and lake resorts are up 44% over 2019.
With consumers clamoring for a vacation after a long eighteen months at home, the problem isn’t drumming up business for the travel market at all. So now, hospitality and travel brands must focus on how to be heard above all the noise, and as international travel destinations continue to open up, the buzz will only continue to grow.
How will you find your brand’s share of voice?
Identify Your New Audience
The pandemic has changed the way people spend their money and time. After eighteen-plus months of saving money and spending only on the essentials, many consumers have shifted their priorities, and your target audience may have, too.
To make the most of your marketing budget, spend the time identifying your new markets, determining what customers in those markets can and will do where travel is involved, and making educated predictions about when other areas may begin to increase in travel and hospitality.
This will help you streamline your marketing to get the right messages to the customers who most likely will make travel purchases.
Revamp Your Content
A solid understanding of your new audience will help you revamp your marketing content. Start with an audit of existing content on your website. What is woefully out of date and no longer relevant? How can that content be updated to reflect the current state of the world?
New content can include updated information about health and safety policies and your improved flexibility around travel planning. Then, to stand out from the crowd, create new high-quality images and videos to begin rebuilding excitement about popular destinations, services within your hotels, and new or beloved restaurants in your area.
Feature your star employees, such as a fun series of videos with your chef or mixologists. Introduce your service team members, like flight attendants, front desk agents, and concierge so your buyers will recognize familiar faces. A little bit of reassurance and comfort goes a long way right now.
Engage Your Buyers
Buyers have a lot of different options to choose from right now. Simply talking at them will cause your brand to blend into the background of general noise. Instead, make efforts to engage your prospective buyers.
It’s a whole new world right now, and as much as we want to believe things are “back to normal,” everything is different. As much as you may think you know about what buyers want and need right now, the best thing you can do is simply ask. Ask questions about their preferences in your Facebook posts. Send surveys with your email marketing. Post polls—serious or lighthearted—in your Instagram stories.
Next, listen to what your customers say. Respond to their messages. Share their interesting suggestions with your entire audience. “Like” their responses. Then, direct them to departments that can help with their pain points. These are the small actions that result in big-time loyalty, both now, as travel is heating up, and later, when travel returns to some semblance of normal.
Update or Increase Marketing Tactics
Consumers may be wary of messages from your brand about how fun and exciting your destination is in the wake of the pandemic. That information from fellow consumers, however, is very compelling. Influencers can be critical when spreading the word that your resort or airline service is getting back to normal. Work with influencers to showcase your hospitality or travel brand in the best possible light to get the edge over your competitors.
Finally, email marketing is a critical asset during this time. Create lead capture opportunities on your website and social media posts for email marketing campaigns. Your content created around your updated health policies, your staff members, and any discounts or loyalty programs make perfect email offers to continue driving revenue to your brand.
Make Flexibility a Priority
As exciting as the return of travel might be, several possible pitfalls lie ahead. The coronavirus isn’t wholly eradicated—in fact, it continues to mutate. While vaccinated travelers shouldn’t have too many problems, at least for now, another surge in COVID numbers could put a damper on plans.
The ability to make changes to an itinerary—whether the people traveling, the places they’re traveling to, or the length of the trip in question—will serve you well, even if it might increase your costs. In the long run, the brand loyalty you build will pay the debt later.
Focus on Health
While many want to leave the coronavirus in the rearview, the truth is that brands must focus on their buyers’ health and wellness. Cleanliness and hygiene will be at the forefront of consumers’ minds for a long time, so these should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts.
Minimize physical touchpoints as much as possible with digital tools and mobile device technology. Some examples are mobile boarding passes and hotel apps that facilitate keyless entry and digital checkout processes. Many brands already use these and other options, so forward-thinking to bring new technology to the industry will help your brand stand out.
If you’d like to discuss how to navigate the changes required for successful travel marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help.