In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many travel brands have been dialing back or even going dark in their communications. But while travelers are unable to travel and may not be quite ready to plan future trips, a new survey from Destination Analysts notes that two-thirds of Americans “can’t wait to get out and travel again.” This mindset, along with several other factors, could have big implications for travel marketers.
What does it mean?
Travelers are open to hearing from you. While they may not be ready to plan their vacations, they are continuing to dream (and mentally plan) where they are going to go once they are able to travel.
Travelers are hearing from your competitors. Many travel brands are doing a great job staying relevant – or at least in front of – their audiences . . . and yours.
Brands that stop messaging have more trouble recovering. A recent report from Kantar reminds us that during the financial crisis of 2007/2008, brands across all industries that continued to spend were those that remained strongest and recovered quickly afterward.
What should marketers be doing?
Travel marketers should shift their goals to focus entirely on building awareness and affinity for their brands. Now more than ever, it’s not about making the sale. It’s about showing your travelers that you share the same values and that you are the “right” brand for them.
You can create this relevance by showing how your brand relates to what travelers need – whether it’s providing empathy or entertainment today or offering inspiration for an amazing vacation 12 months down the road. Some examples of brands doing this well include:
- Visit Portugal’s “Can’t Skip Hope” video conveys an inspiring “we’re all in this together” message while simultaneously inspiring future travel through existing footage
- Travel St. Lucia created a “7 minutes in St. Lucia” Instagram series sharing yoga, cooking and dance classes that take place in the middle of St. Lucia’s gorgeous landscape
- Visit Britain is capitalizing on its iconic culture by running a social media campaign inviting travelers to explore its movies, art and music – from the safety of their couch.
Marketers should start by assessing what it is their brand can uniquely offer travelers to help them in this difficult time, while also reinforcing their differentiators and cementing their brand as a priority in the minds of travelers.
Is your travel marketing centered around sales? Now’s the time to shift focus and ensure your business stays top of mind – for the right reasons.