The travel industry’s rebound is in full swing and the desire to travel is back with a vengeance. You might be reaping the bookings now but sustaining long-term growth is crucial. Evidence of Americans growing increasingly eager to travel after hunkering down at home for so long is piling up. Airlines like United and Delta continue to add flights and rehire pilots as TSA checkpoints across the nation inched towards 18 consecutive days of more than 1 million travelers — the most consistent wave of travel recovery since the pandemic. Many hotels are doubling down on wedding inquiries compared to 2019, filling heads in bed for the summer, and pacing ahead for winter bookings. But are they fueling long-term growth?
By Dana BaasiriWe put together a marketing roadmap to help travel brands break through a competitive landscape and not only capture the current pent-up demand, but fuel long-lasting sales through five affordable and effective steps:
Step 1: Reach the right customer
Those who are vaccinated feel more comfortable with the idea of traveling and are helping lead the travel surge, especially internationally. A recent Virtuoso survey found that more than 80% of Americans over 77 years old are more ready to travel this year than they were last year. While another survey by The Points Guy revealed that more than a quarter of respondents said travel was a major deciding factor in getting vaccinated. And with over 100 million Americans fully vaccinated, that’s a larger pool of potential travelers who are 1.5 times more likely to take an overnight trip in the next six months. Appeal to those consumers who are vaccinated and ready to release their desire to travel again — whether that’s through special promotions for senior travelers or even an exclusive healthcare worker offer. Take advantage of hyper-targeted tools like Facebook ads set to reach older users with travel interests, and be sure to use relevant imagery with older couples or families.
Step 2: Capitalize on missed opportunities and moments
It’s no surprise that millions of Americans refrained from celebrating milestones or special moments last year, instead opting for virtual Zoom elopements or drive-by birthday parties. Hotels can step in and ensure consumers make up for missed milestones like anniversaries, honeymoons, weddings, birthdays, or even bachelor trips through strong promotional campaigns. Coupling a competitive rate featuring the best amenities and activities your property has to offer will help you capture those bookings. Whether that’s with an exclusive welcome amenity, complimentary spa treatments, custom birthday cake, or private dinner in a suite. Set the stage for families and loved ones to reunite and make up for lost time at your property by emphasizing safe private group experiences like beach bonfires, tequila tastings or cooking classes, lively entertainment, and unmatched, personalized service through your offerings and your content.
Step 3: Segment and hyper-target through partnerships
Some market segments are rebounding quicker than others. According to a recent survey, millennials were 50% more likely than Gen-Xers to feel comfortable traveling by at least Fall 2021. With that in mind, zeroing in on those specific markets is key. One way of doing so efficiently is through high-impact marketing opportunities that maximize your spend such as promotional partnerships. Collaborate with the right brand partner like Regal Cinemas to get your hotel front and center by leveraging their loyal customer base, offer prizing to your destination in a #1 morning show like The Today Show, or launch a multi-tiered radio broadcast campaign with national and regional stations that excite your target audience.
Step 4: Showcase outdoor experiences and spacious amenities
Travelers flocked to the Caribbean and Mexico for the warm weather and pristine beaches before COVID-19 and will continue to do so long after. With an emphasis on social distancing and eased restrictions for outdoor activities, resorts should continue to feature their spacious amenities and outdoor options through their offerings and their marketing. This means strategically using the right imagery and copy throughout your websites, digital ads, emails, and of course, on social media. It also means offering added value and enhancing your guest experience with lively outdoor events or programming that give them a reason to keep coming back and offer an entirely authentic way of interacting with your brand.
Step 5: Reinforce the ease and safety of travel through influencer collaborations
Third-party credibility is much more impactful and trustworthy to consumers when reassuring them of their safety. Don’t just reinforce the ease and safety of travel to your property through your messaging but do so through user-generated content. Influencer collaborations are a cost-effective way of reaching new audiences while generating valuable UGC to repurpose on your distribution channels. Partner with an #ACTastemaker™ who does a standout job at storytelling and documenting the journey from start to finish including the airport, onsite testing, and your reimagined dining experiences. To stretch the lifespan of their content, opt for a structured campaign that goes beyond the host and post model such as affiliate programs, fan sweepstakes, or even social media takeovers that give you owned content to repurpose.
As the industry continues to make its comeback, hotels, and resorts continue to move forward with full force to get their share of the business. With demand back in full force, half the battle is complete. To ensure a full recovery, travel brands must break through the noisy space to stand out and leverage the right mix of marketing opportunities to truly build long-lasting momentum.
Alliance Connection works with Caribbean and Mexico travel brands to drive awareness and bookings through strategic marketing partnerships and powerful brand interactions across a highly selective portfolio of brands, media, and influencers that connect, capture and influence travelers across the U.S.
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