The travel and hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit this year. What advice have you been providing to your clients regarding their communications?
There has been unprecedented disruption to the entire travel industry; from the quickly changing mindset and concerns of travelers, to the evolving customer journey, to the health restrictions and protocols at the destination itself. Because of this, we are helping our clients to identify, prioritize and optimize marketing solutions that can jump-start visitation, mitigate financial risk, and quickly adapt to changing conditions.
How have your clients adapted to our new global circumstances? How are they communicating reassurances to consumers who do want to travel?
Our hospitality and travel clients are all grappling with consumer’s fears of infection, in hotels, on planes, in public places. Much of their focus is on trying to understand when consumers will feel more comfortable and reassuring them these brands will be there when they are ready. They are also focused on implementing procedures that help customers who are willing to travel feel safe and enjoy their experience. At the same time, other clients are offering deals to try and incent customers to use their services
In terms of media, it’s never been more important for a destination website to shine. Now that people have so many questions about health and safety, we’re seeing a big uptick in site traffic. It’s very important that your site is informative, consumer friendly, and flexible.
Is there any opportunity for travel and hospitality brands to innovate?
The advertising landscape has been altered dramatically in the past few months and agency and brand practitioners have had to quickly adapt to an evolving landscape. For example, almost every aspect of the media planning and buying process has needed to be re-evaluated for current conditions and those who are willing to innovate seemed best poised for success.
Consumer consumption habits and attitudes have adapted quickly to changing work and social patterns. These changes have called into question the near-term efficacy of syndicated consumer research and its role in strategically guiding media plan development. We’ve instead relied on capturing and evaluating real-time data signals to plan campaigns and using historical data as only guideposts. This process is helpful in identifying a validated set of targeting criteria and using the findings to uncover audiences traditional targeting approaches would have missed or overlooked.
In the UK, there has been a surge in vacation bookings for 2021. What do you think is important to consumers who are planning vacations and / or business travel?
First, we’re seeing little to no uptick in business travel. In fact, people seem to be avoiding business travel as much as possible.
As for vacations, people are operating in the short term. The time horizon between booking and travel is quite short as long-term plans are completely unpredictable. To that end, travel brands need to become comfortable with the short term. Give people flexibility, insurance, opportunities for a refund. That peace of mind will go a long way in terms of making consumers comfortable traveling again.