The travel industry has been through a tough time in the past 2 years. But what’s the picture now? And what are tourism brands doing to stand out during such challenging times? We’re taking a look at 10 tourism marketing strategies for 2021.
Tourism in 2021 – The Stats You Need to Know
To create the best travel campaigns possible, it’s important to understand the current climate and know exactly what’s happening in your sector. How are people feeling during such a tumultuous year? What’s the mood? Can you alleviate apprehensions and fears? Doing your research and getting inside the heads of your demographic is a must.
Here are the stats you need to know for summer 2021.
- According to travel tech company Impala, 42% of people are planning to travel in 2021. Among those surveyed, the top reason people said they would travel in 2021 was to see family and friends (38%). Of those planning to go further afield, 32% said they want their destination to be less crowded and a quarter said they now consider it important to travel to a destination with a good healthcare system. 22% said they would only pick destinations with the highest vaccination rates.
- Deloitte research has revealed that 4 in 10 Americans intend to take at least one trip with a flight and/or a stay in a paid lodging between Memorial Day (31 May 2021) and the end of September 2021. That’s less than half of Americans but not far from pre-pandemic summer travel incidence. In the summer of 2019, 42% of Americans expected to travel for leisure. The need for a post-lockdown getaway, cited by nearly half of Americans planning leisure trips, is the top motivation for summer travel.
- Among nontravelers, 41% say health concerns will keep them home, compared to nearly 30% citing financial concerns. Health/pandemic-related factors such as restrictions, crowd avoidance, vaccinations status, social distancing stringency and Covid-19 guidance came into play when choosing a destination. A whopping 89% of Deloitte survey respondents cited enhanced safety measures as a reason for choosing a particular type of lodging, while 86% of those staying in private rentals liked the idea of exposure control.
- With foreign summer holiday plans in disarray following weeks of uncertainty over popular European destinations, more tourists are scrapping plans for this year – and saving up for a bigger trip in 2022. Liddy Pleasants from adventure travel agency Stubborn Mule said,
“We have seen a surge in bookings for safaris to Kenya and Tanzania in 2022. Not only that but real bonanza-style North America road trips lasting two or three weeks. People have saved their holiday money for two years and they are determined to do something memorable.”
To conclude: People are keen to travel but are also hesitant. They’re looking for safe adventures and are willing to book now for next year and beyond. So how can you capitalise on this knowledge? Here’s our Top 10 Tourism Marketing Strategies.
#1 Be a Fountain of Knowledge
Covid-related travel rules have been ever-changing and confusing. So being a fountain of knowledge is a good way to attract those looking for accurate holiday information. This is something Stubborn Mule does well. They provide updates and use booking trends to highlight destinations that are not only closer to home but further afield too . They adopt a straight-talking approach and offer loads of practical advice for those looking to make an informed choice.
Top tip for marketers: Focus on the positives. We’ve all been bombarded with doom and gloom and don’t want to hear it anymore. Use language such as ‘here’s where you can go,’ ‘destinations open for travel,’ ‘adventures await.’
#2 Highlight Brand USPs
People want to travel. They need a break. But with cancellations on their mind, it’s important to reassure your followers in any way possible. Emirates, for instance, have flooded their social channels with updates about their multi-risk travel insurance and Covid-19 cover. This is included with every ticket at no extra cost and is certainly an Emirates USP.
Top tip for marketers: Create your very own branded ‘did you know’ style video to show how you’re putting people’s minds at rest this holiday season.
#3 Promote Safety
As we’ve seen, safety is a priority for many travellers this year. So it’s important to weave safety rhetoric into your marketing copy. There are numerous ways to do this. You can use images that show you’re a safety-conscious brand – just like British Airways. Or, you can perhaps capitalise on people’s increased desire to stay in private rentals by showcasing accommodation of this type. This is subtly and affectively done by Airbnb.
Top tip for marketers: We all know masks and hand sanitiser have been plugged as part of Covid safety. But to avoid sounding like a broken record, look at what people want and appeal to their wishes. Posting a picturesque cabin in a rural and uncrowded setting, for instance, is an effective way of saying ‘hey guys, we’re adapting to your needs and are a go-to brand for these strange times,’ without posting the same old masked up cleaning snaps.
#4 Give People a Reason to Book
Travellers still have choices. In fact, with many consumers looking to go further afield they may be looking at different destinations altogether, so this is your chance to shine. Give people a reason to choose your country, district, hotel or campsite. Tourism New Zealand’s official TikTok account showcased the very best of the country with their own 27 Videos Challenge New Zealand Edition which featured truly breath-taking imagery of some top sights and attractions.
Top tip for marketers: Watch social media trends and challenges. The 27 Videos Challenge was a TikTok hit, encouraging people to share 27 videos that summed up their lives. This sort of challenge can be easily adapted by brands who want to appear relevant and increase engagement.
#5 Plan Your Content Carefully
Awesome content doesn’t just ‘happen.’ Every successful brand needs a carefully thought out content strategy, so it’s really important to graft behind the scenes. There are many things you can do, from prepping content for industry events to planning for relevant National Days. Done well. The latter can result in humorous content that’ll boost brand awareness in a clever and authentic way. Take a look at this Star Wars Day example on TikTok from Expedia. It’s completely relevant to the industry, yet embraced a trend.
Top tip for marketers: Be careful not to piggyback on days that don’t suit your brand. If you’ve never supported Pride, for instance, joining in Pride Day or Pride Month might seem like you just want attention. You can however, look for days unique to your brand. For example, Global Sleep Under the Stars Night on 8 August is perfect for camping suppliers or those who offer outdoor night adventure experiences such as camping safaris.
#6 Be Relevant
Believe it or not, your content doesn’t always have to be entirely self-promotional. In fact, its better if it’s not. One of the best ways to get noticed without constantly pushing your products or services is to join in relevant conversations and themes. The Euro 2020 football has been huge news of late with Virgin Atlantic showing their support for England on Twitter. Complete with an amusing image alluding to the ‘It’s Coming Home’ chant sung by England supporters. Remember to use the right hashtags for maximum exposure.
Tourism Australia also supported Australian Wimbledon stars by congratulating sportsmen such as Dylan Alcott and sharing celebratory imagery.
Top tip for marketers: Tweets with images get more retweets and likes and it’s easy to see why as they’re more engaging and harder to ignore. So, get creative.
#7 Curate Content
Content creation of your own is extremely important as it’ll set you apart from competitors and confirm your unique tone of voice. But content curation is also a great marketing strategy for tourism brands too. The process of collating and sharing content from reputable sources typically takes less time than producing it all yourself. Also, it allows you to talk about your brand or issues relating to your industry without coming across as self-absorbed and egotistical. Check out this example of clever content creation from Adventure Women. It keeps the brand firmly in the spotlight but showcases this travel brand from a different angle.
Top tip for marketers: If you’re going to curate content, be sure to only retweet or post from accurate sources and if in doubt, always double check the information. Ill-informed posts can have a negative impact on your brand while well-informed and thought-leading posts can elevate your brand. Sharing content from brand partners is a good way to ensure it’s accurate.
#8 Embrace Storytelling
The world can seem like a negative place right now, so lift the mood with a little positive storytelling. If you’ve achieved something wonderful over the past year or are working towards a goal that’ll improve your brand, share it with your followers. Consumers love storytellers as it helps them connect to companies on a more personal level. Being open and honest about your journey is also a tried and tested way to boost loyalty.
Storytelling is something that Intrepid Travel has weaved into their strategy well. They’ve focussed on climate change and their plight to make a difference. All of this is intelligently communicated via social channels such as Instagram.
Top tip for marketers: Write longer captions to draw people in but accompany these with beautiful imagery and a strong message. You could also create a bulleted or numbered list, outlining your missions, goals and accomplishments. YouTube videos are also a good storytelling avenue as is a tool such as Stories on Facebook/Instagram.
#9 Encourage Local Exploration
While 42% of people are planning to travel in 2021, there’s still a significant number of people that feel happier closer to home. So celebrating local love is definitely a good idea. Promoting staycations or encouraging consumers to rediscover their own back yard is definitely worth considering. This is something Trivago has done through Instagram Stories. The brand asked people to share some local love and then took the time to tag and upload the user-generated content.
Top tip for marketers: Make the most of user-generated content. This is a great way to boost brand-engagement while building a connection with your followers. It’s also a simple way to fill your channel with authentic and non-promotional content.
#10 Link to Relevant Content
Social media is a great place to promote your brand. But try to make your strategy as streamlined as possible. If you write a post about thing to do at a location, why not support it with a link to a branded activities page or a detailed blog complete with action-packed photographs that’ll appeal to your demographic? This is something that Center Parks UK does well.
Top tip for marketers: Include strong calls to action such as ‘find out more’ or ‘click here for details’ to ensure people know there’s more content on offer. And make sure that your content contains all the FAQs potential travellers are likely to have.
Travel Tourism Marketing No-Nos
There are many things you can do to help your travel brand stand out. But during these challenging times there are also things to be aware of. Here are a few things to avoid:
Ignoring Customer Complaints
Ignoring customer complaints or blanking passengers wanting refunds is not a good idea as this could lead to a social media backlash, as Ryanair found out during the height of covid chaos in 2020. If you do find yourself in the midst of a social media frenzy, try to respond to comments but take them away from the public eye. You can do this by providing additional contact information such as a phone number or support helpline or answering on DM.
Making Divisive Statements
Making divisive statements such as ‘all people must be vaccinated before travel’ might do your brand more harm than good while this is not yet law in most places. This is something that Saga had to deal with when they made vaccination mandatory to Saga customers (except those who are exempt). If you’re planning to implement such a process you need to be well prepared for any backlash you might face and have statements ready to release that’ll defend your position. Expect people to fight back, question your decisions and want to hear from key members of your team. It’s a contentious issue and not one to take chances on.
Yes, we’re still facing difficulties caused by Covid-19. But don’t forget that travel is also a form of escapism. While it’s clearly essential to address fundamental things such as safety, don’t lose focus. Your aim is to sell a holiday or an experience that people will remember forever. Therefore, whip out the crystal clear photography, get creative with video content, share exciting blogs that will encourage people to book and unleash your humorous side on TikTok.
You could manage Covid questions by creating a specific Covid-related tab for your website. Or a Pinned Tweet on Twitter is also another way to remind people that you’re taking Covid seriously, while allowing you to expand your content as restrictions ease.
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