As vaccination rates increase around the world and destinations begin to welcome back travelers, more travel companies are looking ahead to how they can use advertising to supercharge their recovery plans and put themselves top of mind with post- pandemic consumers.

But even as industry leaders recognize the potential opportunity, they also acknowledge that the marketing best practices that worked in 2020 may no longer be effective. This means they will need to shift the way they find and engage consumers if they are to bounce back in 2021 and beyond.

No matter how recovery evolves in 2021, the ‘new normal’ will require travel advertisers to innovate, empathize, and rise to the occasion of a global consumer community with a whole new set of priorities. In this report, Skift & Sojern define six trends that will help travel advertisers accelerate their post-Covid recovery in 2021 and beyond:

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1. Travel Brands are evolving to meet the needs of the Post-Covid Consumer

As the travel industry prepares for a post-pandemic recovery, travel advertisers will need to adapt their messaging in response to emerging shifts in customer mindsets, habits, needs, and expectations.

One of the biggest messaging factors is health and safety.

  • Compassionate and clear communications
  • Consistent and reliable health and safety messages
  • Consumer first, people-centric approach

2. Changing privacy rules are pushing advertisers into New Territory

Travel advertisers can repurpose existing customer touchpoints to connect on consumers’ terms, providing services and collecting traveler data well within the bounds of regulatory compliance. Examples include:

  • Loyalty programs:
  • Smarter websites
  • Contactless processes
  • Customer feedback
  • Content publishing

3. Shifts in Digital Distribution Models will shake up ad strategies

As travel budgets return, advertisers will need to consider how these distribution shifts will impact their advertising strategies. Several approaches are gaining in popularity:

  • Direct-to-consumer
  • Commission-based
  • Metasearch
  • Connected TV and video

4. New Measurements will alter the Marketing Data Landscape

Throughout 2020, closed borders and grounded travelers forced advertisers to reevaluate the success of their campaigns, moving beyond bookings or arrivals to focus on better ways to measure engagement. Between these pandemic-inspired changes and new privacy-focused legislation, travel brands’ well-worn methods of understanding a customer’s path to purchase are becoming both less relevant and more difficult to track. Even comparing data from previous years is fraught, now that travelers report changing intentions and reinvented behaviors.

Decisions will still be data-driven in 2021, but the data has changed; advertisers’ assessments of it must change too. But how travel brands choose to revise their approach will largely depend on their specific circumstances, business goals, and the progress of recovery in their market. In other words, in 2021, some advertisers will be adjusting what they measure, while other brands will need to also focus on adjustments to how they measure success.

5. Collaboration will be crucial for Destination Marketers

Effective co-op marketing campaigns will combine the power of collaboration with digital-first strategies to reach across multiple travel touchpoints. Grouped by destination, advertisers can collaborate to provide travelers with offerings at every stage of their planned journeys. DMOs that work with local attractions, hotels, and airlines, for example, will see that as each category succeeds, other categories’ metrics are lifted along with it. In the end, these multi-channel co-ops encourage and support travelers to stay and experience the destination in question for a longer period of time.

6. Travel Marketers imagine a more equitable and sustainable future

According to Booking.com, 53 percent of global travelers reported that the pandemic opened their eyes to humans’ impact on the environment, leading them to want to travel more sustainably in the future. Sixty-nine percent of travelers reported their growing expectations that the travel industry would offer more options to do so.

To meet consumer demand for transparent ethical commitments, travel brands will need to craft messaging that communicates who they are and what they care about to the public. Travel brands will need to redefine their priorities and clarify their core values in order to connect with consumers who expect businesses to take a stand.

Source: Skift & Sofern 

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