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How Travel Brands Can Succeed While Travel is on Pause

November 24, 2020
By Alexandra Duff

With travel on pause for many this year and consumer sentiment around future travel fluctuating daily due to the consistent rise in COVID-19 cases globally, travel brands have been tasked with remaining relevant while also being mindful.

In July of this year, our client Chase and Marriott Bonvoy conducted a study that found most respondents (85%) anticipate traveling domestically in the next year. In addition, nearly half (43%) said they would stay in a hotel before the end of the year. This optimism around travel shows that demand and desire are still there – so what is the most effective way to reach these consumers who are beginning to travel this holiday season or start making plans to rebook a canceled/postponed trip?

Travel brands that have risen to the top throughout the pandemic have succeeded in meeting the consumer where they are right now: at home. Focusing on keeping travel close to home may sound counterintuitive as travel brands often root themselves in helping the consumer escape, but with consumers’ needs shifting, the brands that performed best are those that pivoted to meet these new needs. Here are ways that travel brands continue to stand-out amidst the current travel climate:

Quick Reactions and Helpful Pivots 

This year saw airline and lodging/hotel companies offer essential workers free flights and stays, and cruise ships converted into medical facilities. Travel companies that found timely ways to help those most affected and actively participate in the COVID-19 response have remained a part of the conversation.

Rewarding Consumers 

Since the onset of the pandemic, many consumers saw milestones canceled, ranging from weddings and honeymoons to graduations. The brands that stepped up to help reward these consumers with surprise and delight events, monetary prizes, etc., which they could use to celebrate from the safety and comfort of their own homes, earned positive recognition from consumers and media.

Optimism Meets Realism 

A focus on future travel and travel planning allows consumers to whet their appetites for travel without promoting travel outwardly at a time when many may still feel uneasy and many health officials caution against it. Brands that encourage optimism but remain realistic show consumers that the brand’s focus and commitment to consumers’ safety are genuine. It also acknowledges that we will travel again and highlights the benefits of planning travel with loved ones at home before we’re ready to get back out there.