5 ways travel marketers should prepare for the recovery

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Travel is resilient

This boom led to marketing strategies focused on the last-click-as-conversion attribution, price-driven offers and a proliferation of choice. While those strategies worked then, we’re entering a new era in travel marketing. 

Throughout my experience working in the travel industry, I’ve seen other major industry downturns, like the H1N1 pandemic and the Great Recession. Travel was immediately—and deeply—affected during these periods, just like now, with the repercussions from COVID-19. 

But, travel is resilient. Pent-up demand inevitably translates into people planning and booking trips as soon as they’re free to get back out in the world.

Looking for travel inspiration

We’re already seeing this trend on Pinterest. Despite a sharp drop in travel searches on March 23, the day the UK announced shelter-in-place measures, Pinners are looking for inspiration again. Travel searches have been steadily rising over the last six weeks3—and we expect that trend to continue. We credit a combination of pent-up demand, time spent cooped up at home and upended spring holiday plans.  

There’s also been a 24% increase in searches for “life goals” in the last month vs. the same period last year, as people look for motivation and inspiration.4 And searches for “bucket list ideas” have spiked 65% as people refocus their priorities on what matters.5 

To learn more about what Pinners are thinking about when it comes to travel, check out our trends tool.

Comeback in a safe way

What will the travel industry look like on the other side of this thing? No one knows for sure. As for my predictions, I see the responsible travel trend continuing to increase. I predict we’ll see domestic travel rebound before international, as people—at least initially—opt to stay closer to home. I also think travellers will seek more rural destinations over urban ones until social distancing phases out. For that reason, larger, outdoor, open-air attractions like national parks are a safe bet.  

Emerging from this crisis, our challenge is to get people back in action. And to inspire travel and adventure, we need to be more creative than ever before. 

Here are some key strategies for every travel marketer in 2020 and beyond.

1. Help travellers imagine the future

Our present has been on pause, forcing people to live in the future. Position your brand to win by helping travellers envision a future full of optimism and ideal travel experiences.

2. Reassure safety and trust

Travellers will be looking for brands marketing in channels they trust, and ensuring they’ll be safe in the physical world. The combination creates a positive association that will help reassure people that they can get back out there with confidence.

3. Inspire travel to boost demand

The average traveller has more than 40 online touchpoints before making their final booking decisions.6 The industry knows this, yet still relies on the last-click attribution via search engine marketing. Take this opportunity to shift your marketing focus further back in the decision-making process—to the all-important inspiration phase. For example, shift “One-way flights to Hawaii” to “Beach dreaming? Plan a future trip to Honolulu.”

4. Move travellers from dreaming to booking

Once you’ve inspired travellers, follow up with content that guides them from research to planning and ultimately, booking. This process begins with reaching people who are in a “future planning” mindset. It continues with customised messaging and creative that helps travellers visualise their dream trip and drives the urge to make it a reality. Providing expert advice and recommendations help influence trip details and instil confidence in trip decisions.

5. Use passions to personalise

Every industry has a focus on personalisation. For travel, passion points are key to driving relevancy and engagement. Passions fuel our travels. And travel, likewise, fuels our passions. Understanding what travellers want and love—food, adventure, romance—is fundamental to customising and influencing their online experience.

—Ashish Arya, saving to Hotel Bars Around The World

 

1ABTA, Holiday Habits Report 2019

2Deloitte, Travel Weekly Insight Annual Report 2019-20

3Pinterest internal data, UK, 3/23/2020 - 5/6/2020

4Pinterest internal data, UK, 3/16/20 - 3/29/20 compared to 3/2/20 - 3/15/20

5Pinterest internal data, UK, 3/16/20 - 3/29/20 compared to 3/2/20 - 3/15/20

6Verto Analytics, McKinsey analysis, U.S. clickstream panel data, Q4 2017–Q1 2018