We recently launched new creative for Travelzoo to inspire Britons to keep dreaming of and planning for holidays to take after lockdown. The insight is simple and relatable – the mind wandering to the things we’re missing while stuck indoors.

Mock up of a billboard with an ad for travelzoo

The reception has been amazing. News of the campaign has been picked up by multiple travel industry titles and the social posts are some of Travelzoo’s most liked this year.

Google Trends is showing tentative signs of optimistic holiday planning in 2021 with spikes in interest for sunny destinations and when hotels will open. And in a recent Travelzoo member survey, 60% said they would book a travel deal right now if it was fully refundable or free to change.

Despite all this good news, travel was dealt another blow last week as the UK government announced a mandatory two-week quarantine period for anyone arriving in the UK from 8 June. It’s expected this will deter British holidaymakers from going abroad and wipe out inbound tourism and business travel for the early part of the summer.

Is the travel industry going to survive? And as marketers how can we help?

Accelerated innovation

First of all, travel is one of the lynchpins of the global economy. It will find ways to survive, evolve and thrive. To support this, there are a number of innovations which are likely to come quicker than originally planned.

Like the increased presence of security scanning after 9/11 … health and safety measures will become core to travel at every level. There will be procedures for masks, hand sanitisers and temperature screening. As time rolls on look for iris and face recognition and gesture controlled doors. Secondly, seamless travel where your face and body is your passport. There is an initiative from the World Economic Forum to move towards 100% digital identity which includes health data like vaccinations.

Talk to Gen-C

However you like to think of it – Generation-Covid or Generation-Caution – a new traveller will emerge. Their defining feature will not be demographic, but an overwhelming need for assurance their travel decisions are not risky in any way to themselves, their loved ones and the environment.

On top of this, communications will be met by a sceptical public. Denial and delay of coronavirus refunds mean now just 20% of consumers trust the travel industry, according to Which?

Be aware of this. Be respectful of the government advice. Be mindful of the towns and cities that are not ready for a tourist influx. Be sensitive to different levels of health and financial comfort. Focus on products and offers that are refundable and easy/free to change. Build strategies that support the need for extraordinary reassurance and, until they become the norm and Gen-C starts to relax, promote them – low impact breaks, hygiene procedures, contingency plans.

Share local inspiration

As ‘isolation fatigue’ sets in, Britons need healthy coping mechanisms and welcome distractions. A dose of travel inspiration could be just the ticket. Use advertising to create escapism and inspire thinking beyond the home.

…But not too far. Despite Google Trends showing a burgeoning appetite, it’s predominantly for local and non-popular destinations. Consider promoting UK breaks, driving holidays and isolated / off the beaten track locations.

As we said, Google is showing an appetite for travel. The past two recessions have taught that brands that continue to market emerge from the shock ahead of their competitors. The focus should be on increasing relative share of voice, perceived share of voice and product quality perceptions.

Clean and green

Just prior to the COVID-19 outbreak we were talking a lot about the relationship between travel and climate change. Air travel is responsible for about 5% of global warming, with 2.4% of that carbon emissions. One of the consequences of the pandemic is that we’re living through one of the most dramatic drops in carbon emissions we’ve seen in the past century. This year, emissions are predicted to fall by up to 8%. Really, we need emissions to drop at this rate every year to protect the environment.

Strategies and communications that highlight ‘green’ methods of travel, locations and destinations will not only help play their part but will strengthen the appeal to a more considered audience.

Embrace pride

June is Pride month. This is such an active group of travellers, spending an average of 33% more and travelling 4-6 times annually. But discrimination is still a major concern with 1/3 saying they feel treated differently and 64% worrying about safety during travel.

It will pay to provide a compelling offer, but this needs to run deeper than a rainbow coloured logo. Travel companies should consider how to enhance the role, visibility, and recognition of LGBTQ+ individuals and combating homophobia.

There is evidence of brands doing this particularly well, such as Tinder which has a feature that alerts users when they activate the app in a country with prejudiced LBGTQ+ laws and Fabstayz, which connects LGBTQ+ travellers with LGBTQ+ hosts from holiday rental sites.

Industry point of view

Glyn Owen, Head of Marketing, UK, Travelzoo:
The World Tourism Organization predicts that international tourism is going to drop by 60-80% this year. Far fewer Brits will be going abroad on holiday and so staycations will boom. In the short term, until September at least, I expect there to be heavy discounting from the travel industry as it tries to encourage bookings – so it’s really going to be a deal-laden market. With inbound tourism dropping and many events being postponed or cancelled, hotels will likely drop prices to fill rooms to make up for their losses during lockdown. UK cottage stays and self-catering options will be in high demand this summer. With so much uncertainty around travelling abroad, I predict that holiday bookings will pick up in the last quarter of the year.

Rose Wangen-Jones, Managing Director, Marketing, London & Partners:
The impact on international tourism as a result of COVID-19 will undoubtedly affect the way Brits approach travel for the remainder of 2020 and likely, moving into 2021. As a result of this, and the anticipated loss of international tourism for the UK, we absolutely expect to see the recovery of tourism in the UK come from a domestic audience.

In London specifically, we will be putting Londoners right at the heart of our recovery strategy. There will be many barriers we have to consider, not only the obvious areas of available disposable income and concerns on safety, but more focus on societal cues, i.e. ‘Is it socially acceptable for me to be out and about enjoying London?’.

In the immediate term, we’ve been aggregating all the London virtual experiences under Virtually London, responding to Londoners’ desire for on-line access to live-streamed plays, concerts, virtual tours and training activities.

Next, we will be working with Londoners to develop new aspirations for what London as a city stands for, so this won’t just be about a time for recovery, but also revaluation. We’d like to see a greener, healthier, kinder and more inclusive city with a focus on community and human connection. Looking into the future, we’d ask the industry and travellers to perhaps consider thinking closer to home and to celebrate the opportunity we all have to enjoy and support the UK.

Our advice?

Embrace the green shoots.

Look at your product offer and modify it to meet the demands of the new traveller. Use these products to capitalise on demand with sensitive and inspiring marketing that helps Britons’ return to face the world.

Mock up of a billboard with an Ad for Travelzoo for Bali