The travel industry is starting to recover from the COVID crisis – and it looks like 2021 could bring a boom.
The travel industry has been left reeling from the impact of COVID-19, and there are more changes on the way. PhocusWire, one of the most respected travel research authorities in the world, reported on the changes 2021 is set to bring to the travel industry.
Here’s what they said:
- 55% of travelers plan to travel for more than 14 days on
their next trip
- 60% of travelers are going to limit their travel to just a few
trips during the year
- 40% of travelers want to choose companies with stricter
health and safety standards
- 68% of travelers want their money to support the
community they are visiting
These are big changes to navigate!
Understand these changes and how to navigate them.
Omi Diaz-Cooper, the CEO of Diaz & Cooper Advertising, recently sat down with Rob Kischuck on the Marketing Agency Leadership podcast.
It’s more important than ever for travel industry professionals to think of their websites as powerful sales tools. Websites can no longer be “set it and forget it.” Rather, Omi says travel industry websites need to be “living things that need to be producing leads and sales for their companies.
Even companies, like tour operators who would use their websites
mostly as catalogs, still need to nurture prospects along the
While all industries can benefit from great websites, it is especially
important in the travel and tourism fields. Omi expects travel to
rebound significantly in 2021 now that we are through the worst of
the COVID-19 pandemic.
The podcast points out that over the last year, many people who
love to travel have been researching their next trip. They may
know exactly where they want to go when they finally get the go-
ahead to travel, or they may be ready to do something
You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the image above.
Let’s look at the advice that Omi provides on the podcast:
1. Get sign-ups even when people aren’t yet ready to travel
Omi emphasizes the importance of capitalizing on traveler's pent-up desire to travel and using your website now, rather than waiting until people are able to travel. Offering an incentive for people to sign up on your website will allow you to re-target them and re-market to them later.
In order to get people to sign up on your site, she explains, “It’s really about trying to capture the imagination of people who are at that research stage and then having engaging content. From there it’s a pretty traditional eCommerce journey. You have to engage them with content… If they’re not ready to book yet, you have to get them to sign up for something so you can remarket to them with email. And then after they become a guest, how do you remarket to them so that they give you a great review and refer you to others?”
Types of Offers
There are countless ways to get people to sign up. Some of the ones recommended include:
- Lead Magnets, like checklists and tour guides
- Destination information
- Discount codes and special deals
- Unique, meaningful gated content
2. Nurture customers through their journey
In the travel industry, we often talk about how our customers and clients get to go on incredible journeys. But what about their online journey with us?
The customer value journey starts when someone encounters your company for the first time and visits your website. That’s your chance to help them take the next step and become one of your contacts. Yes, a memorable website helps, but if you can remarket to your visitors again, you’ll have far better conversion rates.
Omi says, “It’s really important to have a mechanism by which you can engage with the potential customers before they actually book so that they’re already looking to you for information, whether it’s destination information or whether you’re giving them tips on how to dress or how to pack for a particular climate. Whatever the case might be, it’s going back to good old-fashioned content creation and thought leadership where you really want to be able to establish that relationship before they book. Because if they book outside of your brand’s website, you’ve lost that relationship until you can capture their email again.”
3. Online buying habits are changing fast and likely permanently.
During the interview, Omi and Rob talked about how much rapid change has been taking place in eCommerce, across the board. During COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, online behavior patterns changed drastically.
People stopped being loyal to specific brands, and instead they found themselves looking for value and meaningful connections. People were buying more online than ever before, while at the same time, many people had less disposable income.
The travel industry has had to deal with more than just the limitations of people’s ability to travel during the pandemic. There is also the uncertainty of future travel. People don’t know when they will be able to travel again safely, what will happen in different states and countries, or whether or not they will be able to change their schedules.
All of this emphasizes Omi’s first piece of advice: capture and nurture leads so that when people are ready to travel again, your company will be top of mind. This is a great time for developing relationships with future customers.
4. It’s okay to need help navigating these changes.
During the interview, Omi shares several case stories about clients that Diaz & Cooper has helped, whether it’s increasing lead generation, engaging Clients with content or improving the ROAS of digital campaigns.
Today’s plans have to be more strategic than ever, and each company’s needs vary from the last. Omi’s firm develops a customized plan for each Client that promises to deliver value for that Client. “It can’t just be a laundry list (of services),” she says. “It really does need to be strategic.”
Diaz & Cooper works in collaboration with their Client’s internal teams. For example, if a company doesn’t need blog posts because they already have a great in-house content writer, then the firm will focus on another area such as a comprehensive SEO plan.
5. Things were scary, but they’re getting better!
Because of her industry research and love of travel, Omi’s excited about the future of travel marketing. Her firm is helping tourism and travel companies maintain their online presence, build a bigger prospect database, and prepare for the return of more predictable travel trends!
The Skift Research Report for 2021 presents a compelling argument that COVID-19 is not the first global event to change the way people travel, for example, 9/11 made major changes to travel, too. But just as travelers returned to their love of travel in 2012, people will return to travel after COVID-19, too!
Diaz & Cooper is here to help companies be there for travelers as they are ready to get back on the road. Reach out today to learn more about what Diaz & Cooper can do for your travel business.