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Understanding the post-COVID-19 traveler: What travel businesses can do now

Jul 16, 2020

While you may have had a very good understanding of your audience, COVID-19 has likely turned that on its head. Today’s traveler is not the traveler of the pre-pandemic age. Travel businesses have spent the last few months working tirelessly on damage limitation and customer service. But now it's vital to spend time and resource on profiling a new type of traveler. You’ll find some advice on how below, which we’ve taken from our new report, 5 things travel brands can do right now to be ready post-COVID-19.

Global traveler trends: know where to look

Three months after the World Health Organization categorized COVID-19 as a pandemic, the virus's spread has been contained in some territories – and we’re now beginning to see a post-COVID-19 traveler emerge. What’s clear, from plenty of readily available and up-to-date research, is that there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic. While you're doubtless keeping on top of both national policy and trade developments, there are several industry-specific resources available that give invaluable insight for all travel businesses.

For example, in its June Travel Intentions Pulse Survey[1], MMGY reported that that the likelihood of travelers going on a domestic business trip in the second half of 2020 has ‘increased considerably’. Likewise, news that Hyatt had sold out properties in China in May[2] suggests that travelers in countries that seem well past the peak of the pandemic are showing increasing confidence and actively traveling again. Knowing where to get useful information is more important than ever.

Survey your own travelers: what are their new needs and wants?

You can’t afford to second-guess or take for granted your existing customer base; travel priorities have fundamentally changed for the foreseeable future. Common-sense measures such as expanding handwashing facilities are a given, but a simple survey can also reveal less predictable insights, which can help you transform current processes so that they better meet new traveler requirements.

For example, a recent survey by London City Airport found that 78% of respondents will be looking to avoid check-in desks at the airport when they start flying again[3]. This presents a new operational challenge for the airport, which it can now respond to in advance of travelers returning. It’s this kind of change in behavior that a poll can help to identify right now.

Communicating with the post-COVID-19 traveler: be specific

Research from Kantar in the UK has shown that ads from brands focusing on what they are actively doing to help in the crisis resonated with consumers, providing both higher long-term return potential and a greater likelihood of short-term sales[4]. Meanwhile, ads displaying generic messages of togetherness, hope for the future, and staying at home performed poorly and, in particular, were not memorable.

This is an important insight for travel businesses. Much as it might be tempting to mark your comeback with an inspirational, feelgood marketing campaign, actually it may be much more effective to speak to travelers' concerns in a pragmatic way. To make your marketing communications as effective as possible, make sure that you're demonstrating clearly and specifically the steps you're taking to ensure safe travel.

You’ll find more on this, as well other steps you can take to help steer your business through the months ahead, in our guide: 5 things travel brands can do right now to be ready post-COVID-19. It includes further advice on region-specific strategies, as well as tips on how to best optimize your current marketing efforts, and a lot more.

Download the guide now