With more than 80 travel and tourism brands in Worldwide Partners’ network of independent agencies, we have a first-hand understanding of the challenges facing the travel industry this year. Our agency partners have worked with travel brands around the globe throughout all of the phases--from complete shutdown to gradual re-openings and, in some regions, full resumption of services.
While the strategies and tactics must vary based on regional guidelines and consumer confidence in specific areas, our partners have pinpointed some universal approaches to help reinvigorate travel. Following are the top 8 approaches our indie agencies are leveraging:
Communicate Critical Information
Whether it’s to guide their travel plans or simply for peace of mind, consumers need safety information right now. They need to know what travel organizations are doing to protect their health, they need to know what they’re required to do while traveling, they need to know what activities they can and cannot do, and they need to know about cancellation and refund policies.
But how do you communicate so much information in a simple way consumers can understand and remember?
R&R Partners’ “Welcome Back” campaign for SeaWorld is a perfect example. Utilizing radio, TV, content marketing, social media and video, R&R was able to share the message that guests can still experience the SeaWorld they know and love with temperature checks, face coverings, enhanced sanitation and limited capacity.
“In these incredibly challenging times, we found a way to deliver a critically informative message without sacrificing the emotional core of the brand,” says Fletcher Whitwell, R&R Partners.
Propeg in Brazil is helping the Ministry of Tourism make safety communications crystal clear. With a new “Responsible Tourism Seal,” hotels, restaurants, and other businesses can quickly show customers that their location is following all safety regulations. Propeg is helping to publicize this Seal for travelers and businesses alike.
Show the Emotional Side of the Destination
Focus Advertising used “The kingdom misses you” and “The kingdom is waiting for you” messaging to speak directly to travelers on social media and YouTube campaigns.
Mering’s campaign for Visit California, "See You Soon," had the state sending loving texts to consumers, explaining how much they were missed during quarantine.
Emphasize Mental Wellness
Being shut indoors all day, staring at screens for entertainment and the seemingly endless stream of negative news has had a major impact on the mental wellbeing of consumers around the globe.
Exotic locations and one-of-a-kind experiences aren’t necessarily what consumers want right now. What they really want--need, in fact--is a break from it all.
That’s why Hylink Digital Solutions is focused on promoting experiences that allow consumers to “turn off” and take a break. Resorts, nature, and “low concentration” areas are all different attractions receiving the spotlight now.
Stay Top of Mind
In the early stages of the pandemic, brands clearly couldn’t encourage people to travel or even consider it, but it was essential to keep destinations top of mind for travelers.
R&R Partners knew this was true for Discover Puerto Rico. R&R Partners developed a phased approach centered around the idea of “time.” The first phase, “All in Good Time” was a visual vacation of sorts, reminding travelers to stay safe while keeping dreams of Puerto Rico in mind. Phase 2, “It’s Time for Puerto Rico” will encourage travelers who are ready to consider Puerto Rico as their next vacation destination by underscoring the depth of Puerto Rico’s beauty, relaxation and adventure.
While some travelers are eager to get back out there and willing to accept any risks that might come with it, others are more wary. Ardmore in Northern Ireland is careful to address these less risky, yet still important travelers:
“Many loyal customers for clients we represent in the tourism space may feel anxious towards travel right now. They will travel someday, just not today,” says John Keane of Ardmore. “They are still an important audience to connect with and should never be disregarded for short-term growth. As a result, we must ensure our tone is always reassuring and empathetic as that is key to delivering impact.”
Promote Local Destinations
Even traveling down the street can seem like a major adventure these days.
Lg2 in Montreal, Canada understood this phenomena, and used it to encourage Montrealers to explore their own city this summer. Their campaign for Tourisme Montréal aims to “jump-start summer” and all of life’s pleasures, speaking directly to the city’s residents and tourism industry stakeholders.
Similarly, Hylink Digital Solutions is zeroing in on ride and drive markets for local destinations. Not only are destinations within driving distance a safer choice for consumers, it also helps keep populations down in certain areas “by encouraging diaspora and minority groups to remove barriers to travel differently than most consumer groups,” says Humphrey Ho, Managing Director of Hylink Digital.
Show Off Outdoor Destinations
Outdoor destinations like beaches, mountains, parks and natural formations have been deemed a safer alternative to indoor destinations, and our partner agencies have taken notice.
“We have focused largely on outdoor activities in nature,” says Stefan Hawes of Wasserman Partners. “But we are ensuring our images don’t include any groups of people larger than four.”
Focusadvertising in Saudi Arabia is also showing off the country’s outdoor beauty. With their “The Kingdom Misses You” campaign for Visit Saudi, they promoted each major region and its strength, such as mountains, ideal weather, sea life, diving and deserts.
Shift with Media Trends
Usage of two media channels skyrocketed during lockdown--social media and connected TVs.
For many of our partner agencies, their focus had already been shifting towards these media in recent years. But the pandemic made it imperative to concentrate attention and media dollars on paid and organic social media efforts, and OTT.
Focus on Backburner Initiatives
During the quieter times that occurred throughout the crisis, T2O Media in Spain helped their clients circle back to projects that never got the attention they needed. Two key projects included pushing development for tech projects and introducing relevant changes to existing campaigns. Both of these initiatives helped set their clients up for long-term performance and growth opportunities.
The travel and tourism industry will undoubtedly continue to shift approaches as more locations reopen and consumers become accustomed to the necessary safety protocols. For now, travel brands and marketers can leverage these themes and approaches from our partner agencies to help reinvigorate travel. Learn more about Worldwide Partner's Travel & Tourism expertise.