Covid has utterly changed the travel and tourism landscape perhaps permanently. It may be true that 50% of people are very keen to travel right now, but the other 50% will need reassurance. Meanwhile, tastes and expectations may have altered subtly in the long, long year since the pandemic started. For example, Brazilian, Chinese and Mexican travellers are looking at international travel in 2021, whereas Canadian, Japanese, Italian, German and British are more uncertain.
Its not over-optimistic to believe that hotels and resorts will return to pre-pandemic occupancy or visitor levels. However, the way our industry markets travel in the short-term will have to respond to completely different circumstances. Here, we look at some current trends and how you might react most favourably to them.
1. Hygiene comes first
After a year in which most people have been plagued with masks, disinfectant gels and warnings about social distancing, its understandable that this heightened awareness will translate into travel planning. Customers will expect hotels or activities to follow WHO guidelines on cleaning and hygiene protocols. That means strict use and enforcement of masks, reduced capacity, regular cleaning, availability of disinfecting hand gel and contactless services wherever possible. Such things should feature prominently in your messaging to instil confidence.
2. Flexibility in bookings
So many of us have had desired trips cancelled due to the virus that people are now hypersensitive to this. Latin American and Chinese travellers are especially keen to know that theres flexibility in their bookings and will look for things like travel insurance, trip protection and full cancellation or refunds on transportation and/or accommodation. Meanwhile, the younger generation is responding to uncertainty by booking short-term typically 1-21 days. Let your guests know you understand their concerns and offer them the flexibility they need.
3. Quiet destinations
Statistics show that the trend among willing post-Covid travellers is more towards less populated and less busy destinations. They still expect to have the facilities and amenities they need, but without the crowds and queues. Your messaging should therefore emphasise the open spaces and the freedom to get away to enjoy more tranquil parts of the property, resort or destination.
4. The online customer
People have spent so long travelling online at home that they are even more accustomed to learning about and booking via a screen. Indeed, its estimated that 13% of all time online is spent on travel-related activities, with users likely to revisit sites numerous times. For this reason, it makes sense for you to have a powerful digital presence to act as a net to catch your customers. That means an omni-channel presence (website, social, media) and multiple contact points to hook an interested traveller, such as booking forms or a phone number. You want people to find you everywhere and repeatedly. Users are more likely to click on a remarketing ad, and conversions are 2-3 times higher for repeat visitors.
5. Health and wellness
Weve all had enough of illness and pessimism. A powerful trend in travel aspirations in 2021 will be an increased focus on rest, relaxation and escape. More than ever, we need to emphasise destinations and accommodation that takes travellers to a different place physically and mentally. That will be a question of finely honed copy, design and photography to build a sense of peace and tranquillity.
6. The new luxury
Restrictions change perceptions. Ask most prisoners what theyd eat on being released and theyll often choose a burger over caviar! Gold bath fittings and a personal butler may still appeal to a few, but the new luxury means personalised experiences, superior cleanliness and, above all, privacy. A good nights sleep will be more in demand among the millions who were trapped in cities during global lockdowns. Stress this in your messaging.
7. Giving back
Covid has made many people more mindful of the environment and of personal responsibility in travelling sustainably. Your customers want to have a positive impact on the communities they visit, supporting local people and infrastructures. They like to feel that they are visiting a place and staying with people who likewise value diversity and inclusion. Ensure that this is subtly coded into your marketing efforts.
8. Dreamers welcome!
Fantasy travel has been the only kind of travel permitted to most of the world for a year and more. Your customers have spent a long time online researching and planning. They want to book something! You can help them work on their dreams (and their bookings) by giving them all the information they need. Not only websites, but testimonials from previous guests and deeper local insights than they can find elsewhere online. Use video. Stream live. Set up photo galleries. Add fuel to the dreaming fire and create relationships with travellers before they arrive!
9. Go big!
Confinement creates wanderlust. Many travellers are not simply thinking of a two-week holiday but rather a big trip or a bucket list journey to satisfy all of their pent-up cravings. You can encourage them by making longer stays more attractive and discovering how time with you could be part of a much larger plan to visit wider destinations and take part in more activities.
10. Home sweet home
At the same time, the staycation has become hugely successful in 2020 and into 2021. As you look worldwide for new customers, dont forget the cautious audience at home that perhaps hasnt considered all the amazing opportunities on their doorstep. Hook these people and you can build a healthy repeat audience by emphasising the differences they can experience while not straying too far from home.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on rebuilding in 2021. We have many more and, more importantly, we can show you exactly how to apply such ideas with expert marketing skills.
Book a free consultation today: https://travel.fountainhead.ky/free-consultation/
Founder & CEO
Twitter – @fountainheadky