With the school holidays nearly upon us, summer, and traditionally the peak travel period is traditionally just around the corner. Of course, set against the backdrop of Covid, nothing is remotely traditional right now. Travel restrictions are currently being lifted across Europe, so how does the industry make the most of these vital few weeks? What lies ahead for travel in 2022?
Pent up demand
One thing is for sure, there’s an appetite for overseas travel given many people stayed at home in the UK last summer. A new YouGov report has found that Europe is the only global market where consumers named government restrictions over health concerns as a barrier to travel, largely because of the high availability of vaccines across the continent. In the UK, where currently over 86% of the adult population have had at least one jab, 62% of respondents cited travel restrictions, with only 25% selecting health.
As the industry has discovered, the current reality is that many holidaymakers are only going to book when restrictions allow, leading to very last-minute bookings. When the UK added the Balearic Islands to the green list in June, allowing Brits to return home without the need for quarantine, online searches for the Spanish archipelago increased by 4,750%, with flights to Ibiza up 900%.
Who to market to?
You may recall the headlines back in January when the first baby boomers received their jabs – TUI reported a jump in bookings, with 50% coming from the over 50’s as confidence increased thanks to the UK’s early start with vaccinations. Well, 6 months later, things have moved on somewhat. YouGov research reveals Millennials and Gen X are now the sweet spot for travel companies in the short term:
“The youngest generation, Gen Z, has been the hardest hit economically but while they have less concern over health risks, a lack of disposable income is holding them back in terms of their ability to travel freely. The oldest generation is on the other side of the coin – with savings due to having spent less in the last year but more concerns around travel.
Somewhere in the middle is the audience travel companies are looking for. Millennials and Gen X on average have the combination of a confidence to travel, lack of immediate health risks and the finances to fund what could be multiple trips in the coming months and years.”
What to say?
It’s fair to say the UK government’s traffic light system hasn’t filled consumers with confidence. In May, Portugal was added and then abruptly removed from the green list, sending tourists scrambling for return flights. Research from Trip Advisor has found that UK traffic was up more than any other market in the past few months, but it’s been somewhat bumpy. Their ‘Have Shot, Will Travel’ report found that:
“In the UK, clicks are up more than any other major market since the turn of the year 4, although the recovery trajectory has not followed a steady upward trend like in the U.S. Instead, much of the growth in search traffic occurred during two spikes in user activity – one in late February, when the UK government announced its plans for a roadmap out of lockdown, and then again in April, as national lockdown restrictions began to ease further.”
Recognising that reassurance is going to be a key factor in persuading UK travellers to book, trade body ABTA has just launched #ReadySteadyTravel – to “help travellers feel informed, reassured, confident and excited to book foreign travel this year”.
Graeme Buck, Director of Communications at ABTA – The Travel Association, said:
“Given how changeable things are at the moment, the campaign will be agile – making sure it responds to the latest developments. Our big focus right now is helping people feel informed about what they need to do, both from a government requirement point of view and checking FCDO advice, but also making sure they have everything else in place, from an up-to-date passport to understanding social distancing measures when travelling. And, of course, we’re also celebrating the return to travel and helping people feel excited about the great experiences you get with an overseas holiday.”
When to say it
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for last minute bookings or to inspire people for 2022, now is the time to engage with travellers through long-form content. Research from Visit Britain shows the planning phase of summer and autumn trips is happening further in advance, and that the booking of trips is happening far closer to the travel date than usual, with nearly a third of consumers booking just before they travel.
We’ve recently run two travel campaigns with very different messaging – one based on where you can book and travel to right now, and another, a destination guide for whenever restrictions are lifted to that country. The performance of these campaigns was interesting – the right now content achieved a lower CTR but an incredibly strong CTA rate from the page (+10%), indicating that while there’s perhaps a smaller audience for overseas travel in the next few months, those looking for it are incredibly engaged and ready to book in the moment. The destination piece gained an exceptionally high CTR and strong dwell times, indicating that there’s a large audience of people in the research phase for next year.
With so many people ‘in-market’ for travel either this year or next, here’s 5 top tips for producing engaging content for your target audience:
How to engage with travellers during Covid – 5 top tips
Be agile – In the current market, be prepared to get a campaign live at the drop of the hat. Have assets ready to go – online article copy is far easier to edit and adapt than things like video, display or rich media, and far faster than print
Be reassuring – consumer confidence is low thanks to several false starts; every piece of content should reassure travellers that both they, and their booking are safe
Be inspiring – after an enforced period at home, many of us have been thinking about visiting new places. Research shows people are considering longer and more expensive breaks, so content should reflect this. Create some real Wanderlust!
Be thoughtful – another key takeaway from the pandemic has been the public’s attitude to social purpose. Can you emphasise environmental credentials of a hotel or destination? Is tourism vital to the local economy?
Be emotional –according to Expedia, of those who travelled in 2020, 80% travelled for rejuvenation. Don’t be scared to mention that times have been tough, and that you not only need, but DESERVE a break!