At the start of the pandemic, business travel decreased drastically and fewer people than ever were traveling for pleasure. Health-related fears and travel restrictions additionally led to significant decreases in revenue for travel professionals. But now the industry is finally seeing an uptick in business as more people are getting vaccinated and travel restrictions are being lifted.
The public is breathing a sigh of relief, and more people are starting to make summer and fall travel plans. After being quarantined for so long, expectations and goals for their vacations have changed along with their points of view, and travel professionals must adjust their marketing strategies to meet these new needs.
Consumers are also experiencing a lot of confusion about both domestic and international travel rules. As more people are booking trips online and relying on the internet for most of their travel information, personalized segmentation will be key for travel professionals who want to reach potential clients. Automating your marketing strategy is key, and this strategy must be personalized to take into consideration that customers’ values have changed since the onset of the pandemic.
People are willing to spend more money on a trip or experience that is meaningful to them. For this reason, a personalized marketing campaign that targets a specific type of customer will be more effective than a general advertisement that doesn’t make a connection. Email list segmentation is a good place to start. Get hyper-segmented and organize your subscriber lists by purchase history, age, and other preferences so you can offer customers something worthy of their time and money.
Dividing your outreach by channel is a good first step, but to really get specific, you’ll need to get to know who your customers are. Start collecting useful information when customers first subscribe through a survey or quiz. The survey should gather information such as destinations they’d like to go, how they like to travel, and what kinds of activities they enjoy. And don’t be afraid to retarget your advertising based on how users interact with your content. It will be well worth your time to focus on the interests of your audience.
This may sound like an intimidating task, particularly if you’ve just started your online presence. Fortunately, there are many tools available that your employees can use to collaborate together online and automate much of their daily practices. All businesses can greatly benefit from automated services. This way, instead of having an employee waste their time tediously analyzing customer data, simply have the automated software do it for you. Automation in marketing and customer outreach can be a cost-effective and customer-focused addition to your marketing strategies.
Until you are comfortable moving on to more powerful software, there are basic ecommerce programs available online to help you track data and cultivate new business. Today’s marketing automation programs can segment lists for you, analyze your data, and generate leads. While you should continue to do your due diligence, marketing automation can help your travel brand stay relevant and essential to your customers.
Post-pandemic consumer expectations
Once you have automated customer segmentation, the next step is to consider the specific needs of the different groups. Even as travel restrictions loosen, it is important to consider how customers have been impacted by the pandemic and how it will affect their expectations in travel planning. The following are some new needs customers might have as they plan that first post-quarantine trip:
The pandemic wreaked havoc on everyone’s travel plans and made us all think twice about leaving the house. Although people are spending about the same amount on vacations this year as before the pandemic, many are now staying closer to home.
Easy payment and cancellations
The majority of pandemic-era travelers are happy with how the travel industry has responded, but there is opportunity for better customer service when it comes to cancellations and itinerary changes.
A survey of people from Canada, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. indicated that four in five respondents felt optimistic about future travel, saying that traveling was good for their souls. But most notably, 88% of respondents indicated they would like to see more flexibility with changes and cancellations. This is a wish industry professionals should consider granting to make the most of 2021 travel.
Consumers are used to being remembered on the internet. Login information, purchase history, and other data is saved and used to give customers a personalized experience. People expect nothing less when it comes to travel. Your personalized segmentation efforts will pay off if you can offer your customers “hand-picked” suggestions for travel. Keep track of your consumer’s preferences to make your services easier to access and to give each customer that VIP feeling.
Tips for travel professionals
COVID-19 has completely changed how consumers interact online. If you are a seasoned travel professional, it is important to adjust to the new environment. Or perhaps you’re looking to take advantage of the many opportunities to make money online today. Creating digital content or adding a blog or podcast to your marketing arsenal has never been easier. Keeping your customers in mind, here are some ways you can adjust to the changing attitudes towards travel:
- Be empathetic. This has been a challenging time for all of us, and consumers are ready for a break. Become a brand that they can trust and turn to when planning that first vaccinated vacation.
- Stay educated. Learn about travel trends and adjust your marketing strategies. Especially if you’re just starting out in a market, it is important to educate yourself about recent developments.
- Embrace social media. Pivot from sales to supportive messaging surrounding COVID-19 and how to travel safely and responsibly.
- Join local online communities. Facebook groups about particular destinations or traveling in general are great places for market research. This may be how you find potential customers, or at the very least, you can find out what people want out of their travel experiences.
- Utilize digital content. Use tailored digital advertisements and emails to draw the attention of specific segments. That personalized touch is what gives you a strong visual presence.
Seizing the opportunity
As the pandemic becomes more controlled and travel begins to pick up again, there are many opportunities for travel professionals to meet the new expectations of potential clients. Maintaining a customer-centric mindset and hyper-tailoring ads and messaging towards specific demographics is the kind of luxury treatment consumers are willing to pay a little more for.
Personalized segmentation and dynamic content and advertising will bring travel industry professionals a step closer to turning a pandemic into a great potential for growth.
Kiara Taylor is a freelance writer who has worked as a financial analyst for more than a decade in a number of roles, including equity research analyst, emerging markets strategist, and risk management specialist. To read more from Taylor, visit kiarataylor.com.
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