Thursday,  December 3, 2020  4:58 am

ACTA Summit: 5 insights agents can use to guide their post-COVID marketing


ACTA Summit: 5 insights agents can use to guide their post-COVID marketing
Tania Kedikian (left), account manager, Development Counsellors International.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

In world post-COVID, Canadians will be eager to start travelling again, perhaps sooner than anticipated.  

However, certain conditions must be met in order for people to feel comfortable. 

This was one of several insights Tania Kedikian, a Toronto-based account manager with Development Counsellors International (DCI), shared on Thurs. (Nov. 12) at ACTA’s 2020 Leadership Summit, which kicked off yesterday and concludes today (Nov. 13).

Tania Kedikian, an account manager at Development Counsellors International (DCI), appears virtually at ACTA’s 2020 Leadership Summit.

In a virtual presentation entitled “Capturing the Canadian Consumer: Five New Insights To Guide Your Marketing Strategy Post COVD-19,” Kedikian outlined data based on a 30-question online survey DCI conducted involving 1,512 Canadians from all provinces.

READ MORE: Travel industry was in a "dangerous place" before COVID: Bruce Poon Tip calls for change at ACTA summit

Respondents took at least one overnight international leisure trip in the past 18 months, Kedikian told an online audience of travel agents, agency owners and managers, consortia leaders, independent contractors and suppliers.

“We know that Canadians will once again hit the road and skies, and by some estimates, sooner than some anticipated,” she said.  

The purpose of sharing the research was to illustrate the “Canadian traveller’s path to purchase for international leisure trips, post-COVID” so travel advisors can prepare their marketing plans accordingly, said Kedikian.

Kedikian highlighted five key insights:

1. Post-COVID, Canadians will prioritize travel, but conditions must be met to feel comfortable.

“Canadians are optimistic and excited to return to international travel, but there are conditions that must be met,” she said.

Canadians will prioritize travel over other purchases, take longer international trips and spend more on international leisure vacations, post-COVID, DCI’s research found.

Canadians will also prioritize travel over other high-priced purchases.

“Watch out, home improvement sector. Vacations will be stealing your thunder,” said Kedikian.

Air fare and transportation will be very important to travellers, she said, and Canadians will travel longer after missing out on vacation time this past year.

As much as Canadians are eager to travel, there will be certain conditions:

In DCI’s research:

  • 70% of respondents said they’ll only travel to a destination that is confirmed to be free of COVID-19 cases; 
  • 65% said they will not travel internationally until a vaccine has been developed for COVID-19.

“Those are two big indicators of when Canadians are going to travel and where they’ll travel to,” said Kedikian.

She advised agents to focus on selling longer, more expensive trips to bucket list destinations, noting that there will be opportunities to sell luxury products to non-affluent travellers.

2. Safety & standards will trump all other factors when considering destinations to visit

Safety and health standards were not on the radar when DCI last studied the Canadian market in 2017.

Now, secure and quality accommodations, along with beautiful natural environments, are the priority, bumping out the need for having good value for money.

She went on to list factor that travellers, right now, consider “unimportant.”

These being: festivals and celebrations, accessibility by car, romantic destinations, shopping, and the ability to share on social platforms.

“This should not be a cornerstone of marketing efforts by travel advisors right now,” she said.

On local festivals: “Consumers are simply not comfortable with large groups as we emerge from this pandemic,” she said.

And on romance: “It looks like we’ve gotten enough time with our significant others during quarantine that romance trips are not a high priority this year,” she said.

It’s important that advisors equip themselves with data on the most current and correct information about safety protocols around the world.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), One Caribbean, the U.S. CDC and Government of Canada are all good starting places.

3. Connecting flights aren’t important (but accommodations are)

According to DCI, 60% of Canadians are willing to take a flight with a one-stop transfer on their next international leisure trip.

They also want to stay in a hotel or motel (originally it was thought travellers wanted to stay in private accommodations, but this doesn’t appear to be the case now).

“Now is the time to learn about destinations that are perhaps new to you that require one connection,” Kedikian told advisors.

She also advised agents to expand their knowledge of global hotel brands.

4. Travel inspiration is most likely to come from friends and family, google and online travel reviews.

Of the Canadians surveyed, DCI’s research found that:

  • 48% will be inspired to travel thanks to friends and family
  • 48% will use google
  • 29% will be influenced by online travel reviews

The top three experiences travellers are likely to engage in on their next international trip will be beaches (63%), historical sites (51%) and outdoor recreation (50%), the study found.

56% of Canadians plan to travel with family on their next big trip, reports DCI.

Also, 56% of Canadians plan to travel with family on their next big trip, said Kedikian, who recommended that agents post images of family travel on their websites and social media to “convert those bookings.”

5. COVID has levelled the playing field when marketing to travellers in each province

Safe and secure destinations, health and safety standards, and the quality destinations will determine where travellers go next, Kedikian reiterated.

Where consumers will find inspiration to travel is consistent across Canada, with exception to Quebec, where participants said they would trust online sources more than friends and family.

“Use consistent messaging that focuses on factors of most importance to travellers when choosing destinations,” said Kedikian. “This is the way you’ll be able to convert more bookings.”

For more information on DCI’s research, travel agents are invited to email Kedikian at tania.kedikian@aboutdci.com.

ACTA’s 2020 Leadership Summit runs until Nov. 13, 2020. 


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