Harmony Murphy, general manager advertising UK at eBay, says travel brands are going to have to find customers ready to book in unconventional channels by ensuring they are offering relevant products and deals
As lockdown restrictions slowly lift, it seems that freedom (and travel) is once more in sight, which is great news for not just for all those cooped up, dreaming of their next holiday, but also for the whole travel and hospitality industry.
As we know though, things just aren’t that simple. With so many variables – and the prospect of international travel still up in the air — travel brands are having to drum up business for the summer, autumn and winter, while battling unprecedented levels of unpredictability.
Up against the government’s fluctuating guidelines and consumers’ changing preferences, travel brands are now faced with a considerable challenge: as lockdown lifts, how can they ensure they’re engaging the right people with the messages and marketing that resonate with them in that moment, whatever their circumstances?
Refocusing on relevance
After such a long, challenging period for the travel industry, it’s a simple fact that brands don’t have unlimited resources at their disposal when it comes to online advertising, meaning they can’t afford to waste money marketing to audiences that won’t be interested. That’s why relevance is key.
By harnessing fresh data and smart technologies, and prioritising relevance, travel brands can be confident that their campaigns contain timely messages that are appropriate for the moment and strike the right chord with holiday hopefuls. Ultimately, this helps to maximise performance, impact and ROI.
Unmasking consumer mindsets
Relevance is crucial to get right, especially in uncertain times. But how can travel brands truly connect with consumers, when their attitude to travel could change from one minute to the next?
How can brands distinguish the hopeful jetsetters from the stalwart staycationers and engage with them accordingly? One solution is mindset marketing.
Simply put, mindset marketing means taking into account a consumer’s frame of mind. Beyond the usual data metrics (age, gender, search history etc.), mindset marketing means paying attention to key, real-time signals of intent that indicate a consumer’s current interest or frame of mind, and takes the guesswork out of marketing.
For instance, our recent research found that holidays are going to be a top priority for 38% of consumers once lockdown lifts.
But even if many have already booked their holiday in the UK, could they be tempted to change their mind and travel abroad once it becomes easier?
Meanwhile, those that have been dismissing the idea of international travel to avoid disappointment may well be keen to consider a holiday as soon as the coast is clear.
Tapping into these rapidly changing mindsets could be critical for brands looking to reconnect with customers and rebuild trusting relationships as life slowly returns to normal, demonstrating empathy and understanding of the customer’s evolving context and attitudes.
It also presents an opportunity for travel brands to reach audiences in more untraditional areas they may not have considered in the past and where competition is less likely to be lurking, such as online marketplaces.
Ultimately, while it’s true that the travel industry has been shaken to its core by the COVID pandemic, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
With restrictions being eased in the UK and countries starting to cautiously announce the reopening of their borders in time for summer, there’s a golden opportunity to engage with people that are eager to go on holiday.
In the coming months, it will be the most agile and in-touch brands who will strike a chord with their customers and capitalise on the travel boom as the long-awaited return to normality ensues.