While the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in global travel effectively grinding to a halt, travellers continue to look forward to brighter days ahead.
In its COVID-19 Travel Insight Report, travel marketing firm MMGY Global indicated a number of positive signs; while the report’s the findings are based in part on figures released by the U.S. Travel Association, the statistics may shed some light on the optimism of travellers in general.
Among the report’s findings are:
- Travel continues to play a role in inspiring people – especially during times of isolation. Social sentiment has shown a 57 per cent increase in people talking about dreaming of a vacation over the last 30 days, as compared to the same time last year.
- 68 per cent of consumers feel safe in their cars – more than any other location asked about in the study, which could suggest an early resurgence in drive market travel when a rebound occurs. By comparison, only 10 per cent of those surveyed said they currently feel safe on international flights and only 12 per cent indicated that they would board a cruise ship with confidence.
- 40 per cent of consumers feel safe in parks, 11 points more than even grocery stores, setting up outdoor travel – especially those tied to national and state parks – as a potential interest if restrictions begin to lift by mid-year.
- While leisure travel recovery has typically preceded corporate FIT and group travel, business travelers show more signs of confidence in safety than leisure consumers in venues like hotels, air travel, rail and events.
- While most assume younger consumers will be the first to adopt travel again, 49 per cent of travelers that are 50 to 64 years of age show the least concern for their safety than any other age group.
Creative strategies for travel businesses
In the absence of in-person experiences due to social distancing, MMGY’s report points to the need for creative marketing strategies via technology to weather the COVID-19 storm.
“From chef ’s tables and roaming food trucks to decked-out lounges at conferences and festivals, the burgeoning trend of experiential marketing has been put on pause. With creativity at the core of this marketing channel, companies have quickly adapted and used the power of technology to find new ways to allow consumers to have more personalized interactions with their brands.
“From movie locations around the world to travel to from your armchair, to upskilling and learning new languages, to virtual cocktail making classes, salsa lessons and art tours, these opportunities to experience elements of travel remotely all feed into a dreaming and inspiration phase which is an essential part of the consumer journey on the path to booking. It's important to be at the table, live in the market during this period in order to be at the forefront of consumers' minds and on the shopping list for future demand.”
The report also highlights the importance of ‘social listening,’ as conversations on the crisis evolves by the hour.
“Social listening may be one of the most important tools in the travel marketing arsenal, and its value extends far beyond the scope of social media,” the report stated. “Conversations have shifted dramatically over a matter of weeks – and sometimes days or hours – and it’s crucial for travel brands to understand the voice of a traveler to develop their integrated messaging.”
As the industry shifts to developing road maps to recovery, travel brands should turn to social listening to:
- Develop effective messaging during the Wait. Ready. Set. Go. phases of crisis recovery.
- Identify indicators that call for a different approach to language.
- Connect consumers with travel brands through optimal, empathic messaging.
- Create an emotionally driven, inspirational escape for consumers with a strong point of view
The full report can be found here.