The Coronavirus is forcing many industries to reevaluate their marketing strategies. With all major travel at a complete halt, travel and hospitality marketing is having to adapt. By not adapting to the current situations, brands face the risk of losing future customers. Keep reading to see exactly how the companies in the industry are altering their marketing strategies.
As of July 2020, nationwide and international travel is pretty much at a halt. For the most part, people have opted for road trips to the beach or mountains. However, eventually this industry will be back up and running in full force. To get to that point, brands are placing extra focus on communicating safety.
When asked if she believed it’s important for brands to stress their safety practices during this time, PB&’s Principal, Britt Fero, commented the following.
“It’s not just important, it’s critical. Getting back to business requires peace of mind and actions speak louder than words.”
There is no denying that many consumers are wary of traveling right now, but that’s not to say they don’t want to go on vacation. Many individuals are hesitant and will be for a long time. Ashleigh Whitby, Marketing Communications Manager at Response Media mentioned, “Brands should be communicating safety precautions to give potential travelers peace of mind and convert them into bookings.”
Giving your customers confidence in your brand is key. And, one of the best ways to build this confidence is through education efforts. Let your loyal and potential customers know what initiatives your company is taking.
David Coats, VP of Strategy at Slingshot added, “Travel brands need to let people know that they’re open, however, that message has to be balanced with how they’re opening.”
How do you plan on keeping travelers safe? What safety guidelines are in place to better protect your employees? These are the types of questions that travelers want answered. This along with health and government officials guidance that it’s safe to travel again will help to rebuild travelers confidence.
What The Data Shows
A recent study by GFK-MRI indicated Americans feelings towards the current travel situation. According to the study, 45% of Americans put their travel plans on hold. This study also indicated that 26% of people say there needs to be a vaccine before they’re comfortable getting on a plane again.¹ However, there is also a large majority that just needs to feel comfortable getting out there again.
Fero concluded, “Understanding how brands will help us feel safe plays a key role in packing our bags again.”
Customer Service More Important Than Ever
Customer service is an extremely important component of marketing. It represents your brand, mission, and even values. Whitby said it best, “Exceptional customer service is always the goal, but even more so during a crisis.”
“Exceptional customer service is always the goal, but even more so during a crisis.”
– Ashleigh Whitby, Marketing Communications Manager, Response Media
Having The Proper Response
There’s no denying that hospitality and travel brands have seen an uptick in consumer calls, emails, and chats. And chances are…you are one of those many customers reaching out about canceled or delayed travel plans.
Fero mentioned: “We all understand that brands need to maintain revenue, but doing the right thing for people will go a lot further than the short term dollar.”
As humans we expect the brands to be empathic towards the situation. Despite how many brands might be doing the right thing, there are always a few who just never quite handle the situation properly. Fero expressed how surprised she was by the brands who have not granted refunds or allowed for travel credits later. A company that has this response isn’t doing any good to maintain their customers-base.
She added, “This is the time for brands to listen, find solutions, and help. It will pay back over the long term.”
Keeping The Dream Alive
With travel plans canceled, many brands are finding creative ways to keep traveler’s inner wanderlust alive. Royal Caribbean International and Airbnb are two example of a company that has found a unique way to keep travel alive.
“I think most travel brands right now have focused on ‘keeping the dream of travel alive.”
– Britt Fero, Principal, PB&
Royal Caribbean International
There is no denying how much the cruise industry is suffering during this time. Despite the complete halt of cruising, Royal Caribbean is making the best of it. At the end of March, Royal Caribbean invited all of their Facebook followers to partake in Virtual of the Seas.
Each week the virtual cruise travels to a different part of the globe. During that week, they share a daily Cruise Compass which outlines activities for the day. A few of my favorites: trivia, an assembly drill hosted on Facebook Live, and instructions for how to make your own cocktails at home.
In addition to constantly providing safety and refund updates, Royal Caribbean is going out of their way to provide both comfort and entertainment to their travelers. As Royal Caribbean said, “Because when you can’t actually travel the next best thing is to go virtual from the comfort of your couch.”
In April, Airbnb announced the launch of Online Experiences. These are a new way for people to connect, travel virtually, as well as earn income during the COVID-19 crisis.²
These experiences allow individuals to learn new things just as one would while traveling. From an Irish Dance Masterclass to a Virtual Bike Tour with two-time Gold Medalist Triathlete, Airbnb has all the possible experiences you could need.
¹ GFK-MRI | ² Airbnb |
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