ATTENTION ALL BRANDS ATTENDING GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED 2021.
There was an explosion of interest in summer holiday bookings following the announcement of lockdown easing. HolidayPirates reported a 400% week-on-week rise. EasyJet said flight bookings jumped 337%, and package holiday bookings surged 630%.
It was game on for travel brands.
However, another surge of COVID cases in continental Europe and the slow rollout of vaccines across the continent have cast doubt on the resumption of foreign travel.
It’s a tough one for travel brands. What marketing messages do they need to push, and when? With everything up in the air (except actual holidaymakers in planes), the rules of travel marketing have changed.
The driving forces behind holiday bookings are unrecognisable compared to 2019.
The usual factors such as price, location, weather forecasts and school holiday dates.
Brexit. Two in three under-35s said Brexit would impact their holiday (source: Deloitte).
Environmental impact. Concern around the environmental impact of flying had risen by six per cent (source: Deloitte).
Economic uncertainty. A weakening global economy meant purchase confidence was low and budgets look set to fall.
Full-on flexibility. Flexible cancellation and change policies can make or break a sale. Airlines have waived fees, and hotels are allowing guests to cancel without a penalty. We all want confidence and reassurance at the time of booking.
Go big or stay at home. People are spending big. The average day rate spend has increased by 17% as those guests who are travelling are willing to pay more (source: Hooray Agency). Give them luxury. Pinterest reports a whopping seven-fold year-on-year increase in searches for ‘dream holidays’ and a notable 50% year-on-year increase in searches for ‘luxury holiday’.
Longer stays away. People will be making fewer trips, but for longer. Amadeus revealed that 55% of travellers said they would travel for 14 days or more. Cue the term ‘workation’ – tap into the hotel WIFI and work from home the beach.
Touchless tech. New technology will inspire traveller confidence. More than four in five travellers said technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months (source: Amadeus). We’re talking contactless check-in, paperless menus and even unlocking hotel room doors via an app.
Sustainability. Pre-COVID, travellers were already mindful of the environmental and societal impact of tourism. The enforced pause on travel has allowed people more time to notice how their trips impact the planet and local communities.
There’s something else to consider – Government guidelines on vaccine passports. They don’t exist yet, but with P&O Cruises announcing travellers will have to prove that they have had two coronavirus jabs to take trips that depart in June, it’s accelerated the need for a cohesive approach. Is it another hurdle for travel brands to overcome? Only time and COVID tests will tell.
As marketers, we can’t underestimate the importance of messaging at what will arguably be a rebirth for the travel sector. The stakes are high.