The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, which meant travel marketers had to make sudden and drastic changes. With strict travel regulations, stay-at-home orders and plans put on hold, the industry and travel marketing was rapidly upended. To navigate the sudden restrictions around travel, marketers had to embrace change.
In a discussion for the How Agencies Thrive podcast, Jim Reagan from MediaOne North America and Jason Laronde from StackAdapt reflected on consumer trends in travel, the impacts of the pandemic on the industry, winning strategies, and the future of travel and tourism. Read on to learn three of their key insights, or listen to their discussion, here.
Smaller, Brand-Focused Campaigns
When the pandemic initially took hold travel marketers faced many unknowns. According to Jason, the key to overcoming the initial panic was to scale back fast and then experiment with strategies that were adaptive to the evolving global situation. Jim says that one solution MediaOne North America has found success in has been running smaller campaigns that are focused on branding. Rather than the typical travel marketing, which focuses on care-free experiences, tactics should be more subdued. Marketing should highlight safety precautions.
Smaller campaigns are conducive to staying in front of “your people.” This means building genuine connections with consumers by operating and advertising with transparency. For example, letting consumers know about what the pandemic situation is like at certain destinations, and how travellers can enjoy destinations safely. An honest approach to messaging is the best way to maintain consumer confidence.
Take Cues From Travel Consumers
Both Jason and Jim agree that successful travel marketing in 2021 takes cues from consumers. By taking the time to understand what travellers’ current preferences are, marketers can build campaigns that resonate. To do this, pay close attention to recent research, surveys, and data regarding the travel vertical—often, you’ll find that the results aren’t what you expect. As of late, Jason and Jim say that most people are looking for ways they can enjoy safe travel experiences.
It’s important to be cognizant of the types of experiences that consumers are currently interested in doing. When advertising activities like hiking, cycling, or golfing, marketers should show how those experiences can be done. For example, a consumer might wonder whether or not they can rent the proper equipment. Content marketing through native ads, and storytelling through channels like video are useful in these instances, and drive lots of engagement.
Lastly, taking cues from consumers means being ready to put a pause on campaigns based on the pandemic and other world events. Jim says that throughout 2021, MediaOne North America advised clients to be aware of evolving situations around the globe that might interfere with travel. For example, if the pandemic was particularly active in a region, it wouldn’t be recommended to advertise travel there.
Learn more about how to leverage video and creative to appeal to consumers in our blog, 4 Strategies for Harnessing Travel and Tourism Marketing in 2021.
Travel Marketing Has Gone Local
Now more than ever, travellers are discovering new destinations that are in their own backyard. The pandemic has driven a local travel boom because it appeals to people who prefer not to get on a plane at this time. Instead, many people are opting to road trip around their own state, exploring local attractions, and staying in local hotels. Local travel has become an exciting way to break out from the daily work-from-home routine, and represents a huge untapped potential for marketers.
According to Jim, the local travel boom has also been driven by remote work. With much of the professional workforce working remotely, and with many companies transitioning now into permanently hybrid offices, people have more liberty to travel.
According to Jason, the local travel boom is appealing to budget-savvy travellers, too. The focus on exploring your own country has been accessible to more people, when compared with pricier international destinations. If it fits with a brand, honing on the local travel segment is well worth it. Local travel is less likely to be affected by changing pandemic restrictions, and appeals to a broad audience.
Listen to How Agencies Thrive For More!
To hear more of Jim and Jason’s insights about travel marketing in the new digital marketing normal, tune into the latest episode of the How Agencies Thrive podcast. You’ll learn more of the insights they gathered throughout 2020, and important tactics for travel marketing moving forward. Jim’s final advice for travel marketing? Don’t sit still. Keep moving, and adapt.