Travel brands must raise game in a recession

A new study by direct marketing agency Entire into consumer attitudes to travel plans for 2009 has revealed that marketing is one of the least influential factors in booking a holiday.

Of those people that book holidays, only 4% said marketing was the biggest factor in their choice of destination.

Price was the biggest influence – with 46% of those booking holidays ranking it as the top factor. Previous experience of a destination came in at 20%, whilst recommendations from friends accounted for 8% of the votes. Interestingly, the impact on the environment accounted for less than 1% of votes.

The survey of 2000 people also looked at how the recession would affect consumers’ travel plans this year. Despite the current economic climate, 27% of consumers that will holiday this year say the credit crunch will not affect their plans in the slightest.

Furthermore, of the 73% whose plans will be affected, only 18% of those say they will be going away less as a result of economic conditions.

The remainder of those surveyed say that although they may adapt their plans this year, they still plan to holiday. The high-profile collapse of a number of travel brands has resulted in 16% of those still planning to travel stating that they would opt to book with a “financially reputable tour operator/airline carrier”. UK tourism looks set to receive a boost as 12% say they will adapt their holiday plans by taking a break in the UK.

Ian Stockley, managing director of Entire, said: “The research showed that travel marketing is still not the number one factor for consumers choosing holidays. Only a small minority of those surveyed said that marketing was their top influencer.

“With consumers re-evaluating their travel plans in light of the credit crunch, it’s more important than ever for travel brands to understand the changing pressures on consumers, understand how their marketplace will change and engage with consumers in a way that reflects this.

“Destinations that may have previously been dismissed in favour of more far-flung, exotic locations now have a great opportunity to attract a brand new audience. The challenge for such brands is how to engage and attract these new customers?  Tourist boards, travel agents and travel brands alike, need to define their market and most importantly their unique selling points. Do people come to their destination for a relaxing family holiday or a weekend shopping break? They need to know who you’re talking to and showcase the right attractions for them.”

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