Implement these 6 key strategies to prepare your travel brand for the future. Be the winner!
Know how you can
- Retain customers post lockdown
- Engage your audience & acquire new prospects
- Adapt a cost-effective & profitable business model
- Bring innovation and new technology
- Focus on the health and wellness of your customers
- Re-examine your marketing strategies
The travel industry was the first one to take severe beating amid the lockdown restrictions worldwide. Millions of ticket cancellations and travel bans led thousands of travel firms to shut down.
But apart from the current scenario, we must also remember the growing phase of the travel sector before the pandemic hit that COVID-19 has brought.
This pandemic has to be over someday, everything will be back to normal, and we must prepare ourselves till then as people will continue to travel once again.
What we have learned from this pandemic?
COVID-19 has not only slowed down the momentum of the travel sector but also gave us some important lessons. We must be ready for any disruptive “hurricanes” like travel bans, recession, mass-depression, customer downfalls, and a lot more.
If you remember, we have already been into this dark world with four global recessions since World War II, beginning in 1975, 1982, 1991 and 2009.
During that crucial time, many businesses have adopted some cost-effective strategies into their business model, influenced their customers/audience using Radio, TV, and Newspaper ads to motivate them and bring back their buying sentiments.
And during this pandemic and global shutdown, we need to do the same! And luckily, technology has made things much easier to implement now.
How will the travel and hospitality industry evolve after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Here are the 6 important strategies that you must take into action to prepare for the future.
1. Influence your customers to motivate them
It is important to make your customers believe that they can travel post-COVID-19. Motivate them to dream and plan their bucket list.
We’ve found that if brands build their brand-value by investing in awareness campaigns during the recession, then their recovery speeds up automatically after the recession. It’s that simple!
Some travel & hospitality brands have already started to implement this strategy. Brands like Visit Dubai (Dubai’s tourism board), Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Visit Las Vegas have already posted a lot of awareness and motivating videos around their brand and promoting them everywhere.
From these leading travel companies, we’ve learned that we must prioritize the investment in marketing and build customer relationships by providing them engaging content, and add some positive values in their life by giving them hope to travel the world again.
2. Reevaluate your competitors & products
Due to the global lockdown and its unpredictable timeframe, we have forecasted some important aspects of post-lockdown that brands may face.
It is certain that COVID-19 will severely impact the world economy. And while the whole world is fighting against this pandemic on different time zones and variable restriction guidelines, one thing is clearly predictable that domestic travel is likely to recover faster than international travel.
That means their competition may not look like what they used to be. So this is the time to start working on innovations, re-evaluate your competitors and customers, and then change your product accordingly.
Once you are ready with a new product or innovation, there come a few challenges. While you will be entering into a new market, your audience and customers may change. So make sure that you are not working according to the old audience, instead, you must align your product, technology, marketing, and executions accordingly.
And when you deliver what your customer wants, you will be rewarded with an initial and organic boost. So streamlining your product for the right audience will help your brand bounce back more quickly.
For example, some travel agents which are cruise-focused will not be able to recover. So Cruise lines will now be able to sell directly to consumers. Similarly, hotels and resorts can now expect direct bookings as some travelers will hesitate to book through online travel agencies due to their concerns about cancellations and refunds.
3. Bring Innovation & Technology
During the initial lockdown phase, travelers were canceling their tickets, hotel bookings, and reservations, and companies were unable to handle such traffic at once. Due to which a lot of calls, emails, and requests went un-replied.
This scenario shows the importance of using automated and effective customer service technology.
Avoid this situation and respond to all the customers by investing in new digital products like an online support portal where they can chat with an AI Bot or can easily cancel or rebook.
This will ultimately reduce your call center volumes that will save a lot of time and money.
Leading travel brands have already implemented these digital products featuring automation. Now their customers are answered by smart AI bots that fulfill their demands efficiently.
Travel brands should use this time to bring innovations in their existing product, invest in new and efficient technology and diversify their business by reevaluating the whole system and get prepared for the time when demand does come back.
4. Focus on health and wellness as a primary checkpoint
Health and wellness will be the primary checkpoints in the travel and hospitality industry for at least the next 10 years. Travel brands must start adapting safety measures, tools, and technologies to implement a health-first mentality in their ecosystem.
Our research on consumer behaviors shows that mobile usage will increase throughout the travel journey. Everything will go digital, including passports, boarding passes, keyless hotel entry, and even digital check-ins and checkouts.
And if your travel brand has already been using these technologies from the very beginning, then do not stop here! Instead, bring new ideas in existing digital tools that can enable and expand post-COVID-19.
People are looking for “no-touch” options everywhere, so we recommend every travel and hospitality brand to enable it everywhere you can.
Bring innovation in your elevator keys. Currently, everyone is touching them, so implementing a voice assistant will do your job.
Door handles/knobs and TV remotes are some of the most touchable objects. It will be great to add gesture controls in your TVs or invest in the latest smart TVs that are already having this feature. And for doorknobs, you can add biometrics that is voice-enabled.
Having any other great ideas will make your travel brand not only “contactless”, but great shareable content, i.e customer loves to share the things that fascinate them. Your travel brand may notice a huge spike in social shares, organic website traffic, or anything better.
A leading example of this can be found at the Chengdu Shuangliu airport in China, where they are using facial recognition to help travelers check their flight status and find their entry gate.
5. Catch market signals using your existing data & customer feedbacks
Your data can make you win any race, and currently, you are in a competitive race with time, money, and Coronavirus. It’s time to make your product better, and it is possible if you look back at your existing data and customer feedback.
Travelers will continue to travel again after the COVID-19 pandemic, and you will notice new data and feedback from your customers and most of them will be regarding their safety, cleanliness, or could be anything.
So ensure that your travel brand is catering to their demands.
In order to increase your revenue do not jump into irrelevant products. Most of the travel companies may start offering irrelevant packages that your customer does not want or may not relate to. Avoid making these mistakes and instead invest your great ideas on your existing product.
6. A perfect time to reexamine your marketing strategies
Travelling is restricted, so you can’t run those ads or campaigns that you planned to acquire new bookings and reservations. Use this time to plan out new strategies.
Be Creative and work on bold branding, and create out of the box ideas and share them with your team members, partners, and stakeholders.
If you’re going short of ideas, you can hire a digital marketing expert here.
If your travel brand is in a tough situation and you are losing your sleep, it’s time to take these smart actions. Start implementing these 6 key strategies that will definitely bring a positive change in your brand.
As we already said, this pandemic will be all over and the travel industry will be booming soon:)