Almost one year ago to the day, life as we know it changed forever. With the pandemic, many businesses shut down, flights were grounded, and borders closed indefinitely. Fast forward one year later and we are still navigating it all.
The travel industry was one of the most heavily impacted with Governments, local authorities, and medical professionals urging everyone to “stay home” and only leave their house for essential needs to prevent widespread contraction of the virus. As a result, many hotels were forced to temporarily close and airlines paused nearly all routes.
However, now with vaccinations underway and people starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of getting back on a plane, there is light at the end of this long tunnel. But if you’re a travel brand, still proceed with caution.
To help you do so, here are the top 4 things you should know.
Prioritize Safety, Always
The single most important thing a travel brand can do right now is to prioritize the safety of their consumers—and let them know it. Wary travelers want peace of mind and reassurance that their best interests are at heart. Highlight the precautions you’re taking, outline safety protocols that have been implemented, and educate people on how they can travel safely.
Just because it’s been a year doesn’t make it any less important.
Have you ever been caught standing in a department store, contemplating that new jacket that is a little outside your budget, but you justify the purchase anyway because – if there’s an issue or buyer’s remorse sets in – you can return it within 30 days? Well, people want that same financial safety net when booking travel, especially now. As a company, if you can be flexible and offer an extended cancelation period, you should consider it. If you already have a good cancelation policy, then be sure to highlight it. It will not encourage people to cancel but rather give them a boost to book now.
If a cancelation policy is off-limits depending on the nature of your business, there are still other things you can do. For example, promoting “Book Now, Travel Later” is one way to bring revenue in the door and allow people to book a future date when they feel more comfortable. Another example is earning more points and/or travel credits when you book now. Consumers would be quicker to open their wallets if there was more to gain when booking.
If you’re looking for some low-hanging fruit, look no further than next week. Literally. Recent trends are showing the majority of travel is being booked and consumed in the same month. It’s very difficult to plan future vacations and trips when there is still a lingering cloud of uncertainty in the air. But people are still looking for those last-minute deals and weekend getaways when things are kosher. Flash sales and last-minute deal promotions are a great way to take advantage of this. Using recent customer data, you’ll be able to find timely deals that best resonate with your audience.
Lay the Runway
Although things may be slow now, it’s best to be prepared for when travel does take-off (and it will!). One of the best things you can do right now – and often the most overlooked – is deepen the relationships you have with your existing publishers, as well as build relationships with new publishers. It’s critical to educate partners and provide them with the same information you’re sharing with your customers. Just like your customers want to feel safe when they travel, your publishers want to know it’s safe before they promote it.
In addition to that, you are also competing against many other travel brands and other, more profitable categories. Remember, travel has not been top of mind for publishers for the last 12 months. In order to cut through the noise, work closely with your publishers to find opportunities and get creative with offers!
The travel industry will almost certainly bounce back from all of this; it’s not a matter of if, but when. And until that time comes, take the above considerations into account and set yourself up for success for when the ship finally does right its course.