The tide of travel has turned.
For 18 months, the situation for the travel industry has gone from bad to worse, improved a little – and then been plunged back into continued hardship and uncertainty. And repeat.
But there are many reasons to think that things are finally heading back to a place nearer normality.
Cross-border initiatives like the EU Digital Covid certificate are finally up and running, and UK vaccination status is recognised by an ever-growing number of countries (though the cost of tests is still a factor). Places long-closed to Europeans, like the USA and Australia, are reopening their borders (though other countries do remain closed). More extreme lockdowns look unlikely (though never say never).
Despite those caveats, it seems the pent-up travel demand we’ve been anticipating – that has so far come in spurts – is about to be released.
Who is booking trips?
The new wave of travellers includes Brits who’ve been previously put off by the expense of required PCR tests, business travellers getting back to trips across the Atlantic and keen skiers desperate to get back to the slopes.
It’s backpackers who’ve had their globetrotting put on hold, young people studying abroad, voluntourists wanting to do good, multigenerational family groups looking for a place to reunite… the list goes on.
Subtle new trends have emerged that travel companies will be well-placed to tap into. For example, industry insiders told Euronews that people are booking more outdoorsy and adventurous activities while away. They also spoke about demand for long-haul trips in 2022 and beyond, and a desire to make more trips by train instead of plane.
According to Katerina Antoniou, lecturer in Tourism at the University of Central Lancashire, we are likely to see health tourism, wellness tourism, spiritual and even religious tourism rising in popularity. People will also be keen to visit educational sites, workshops, artworks, exhibitions and conferences in the next year, she says.
And on the lucrative business travel front, McKinsey predicts that while around a fifth of the market may be gone for good, the bulk of it – from essential work trips to ‘FOMO’ work trips for purposes such as building client relationships – will come roaring back over the next year.
While making these trips, travellers will also be demanding new things, particularly clear information about the pandemic situation in their destination, clear rebooking policies, and health and safety measures where applicable.
Why it’s important to target these groups
All this means we’re going to see new types and variations of traveller profiles. And for travel brands, adapting messaging and strategies to entice them will be a priority.
As well as grabbing attention within a crowded market, campaigns will need to speak directly to these groups and feel current; not just be tweaked versions of old messaging. Virgin Atlantic, for example, was ready with a full cross-platform campaign the minute the US announced it was reopening its border to travellers from Europe.
When it comes to paid campaigns, this will involve carefully targeting exactly the right audiences to get the best possible return on investment, and testing, reiterating and constantly monitoring campaign performance.
At Digital Dialog, we have over a decade’s experience doing this specifically in the travel sphere, reaching people all around the world across all major digital channels.
That experience has given us a wealth of past data to draw upon in our strategising, and the technical knowledge to coordinate responsive, cost-effective campaigns for the tourism and travel brands who work with us as a trusted partner.
After 18 months of turbulence, these are exciting times for our industry.
We can’t wait to get brilliant, creative campaigns in front of the right eyes, and we’d love to chat to you about some of the best ways to do so.
About the author
Manish is the founder of one of UK’s leading tourism and travel focused marketing agencies, Digital Dialog. Manish has been helping tourism, travel and hospitality brands leverage digital channels effectively since 2012. Some of the brands he has worked with include Switzerland Tourism, Tourism Ireland, Atout France, Austria Tourism, Visit Wiltshire, Travelodge, Preferred Hotels to name a few.
If you would like to get in touch with Manish to discuss any of your marketing needs, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.