More than just bargains and steep discounts, the traveling public is looking to re-engage with companies and destinations that make them feel like they are making a safe and informed decision to travel.
Here’s 10 tips to consider as you begin to reintroduce customers to your brand or destination:
- Appeal to the sense of collective restlessness. Everyone wants to get out and explore, even if it’s just a neighboring state. Escapism can definitely be a part of your message, if it fits with your brand overall.
- Reassure and build confidence, but don’t overstep. State the facts – what assurances can you provide to consumers that your destination/property/attraction are clean and safe, without overpromising or contradicting medical professionals? If you’ve recently become certified, for example, via the WTTC, mention it!
- Make travel a smart, informed purchase. Customers will feel mentally better about purchase decisions once assumed risk and uncertainty decreases. What can you say to help them, without being disingenuous?
- Don’t be too literal by repetitively using words like ‘COVID, ‘coronavirus,’ or ‘pandemic’ when trying to reassure audiences of health and cleanliness standards. This could trigger an unintentional negative emotional response. Airbnb does a good job of using their existing value proposition of ‘togetherness,’ which now brings new meaning.
- Decrease uncertainty by helping consumers to feel in control. If your business allows, continue to promote flexible cancellation policies, create consumer-friendly payment plans, and monitor social media for signs of customer concern.
- Know your customer personas. Go beyond demographics to the world of psychographics. What are your customers’ behaviors, personality traits, and aspirations? Create detailed personas and give them names – yes, actual fictitious names – and use them to guide your marketing.
- Be human and stay true to your brand ethos. Empathy works well – especially in travel, as we’ve had a very tough few months. It’s okay to be open and show emotion towards your audience. But don’t labor on the negative. Resist the urge to force your brand to be something it wasn’t pre-pandemic.
- Be ready for intent to return, but count on it to change. Consumers are already starting to search for travel related terms, but the patterns are different than a few months ago. It’s vital that your site and content have pivoted as well to capture this new age of travel search intent. For example, T&L published this article just a few days ago, and it’s already ranking on page 1 of search for ‘road trips from NYC.’
- Personalization is more important now than ever. Each individual customer will return to the market at a different pace. Knowing where each person stands relative to the messaging they are receiving means less risk of appearing tone deaf or insensitive.
- Remember the reality. Until a vaccine is found and distributed, a large swath of the traveling public will have at least some reservation about booking a trip. Recognize this risk. It’s not your job to convince them that their fears are misplaced. Continue to add value and engage, and your customers will reward you with loyalty in the future.