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What brands need to know to make the most of the travel boom

bigstock-Happy-Big-Family-With-Children-442994645It’s no surprise to hear that travel has been one of the hardest hit sectors over the past couple of years. But there are green shoots emerging…

American Express Travel’s Global Travel Trends Report found that 74% of people are planning to book a trip in 2022, with nearly two-thirds (62%) eyeing up multiple holidays.

After a period of almost exclusive domestic holidays (AKA staycations), 64% of people plan on making the most of eased restrictions by spending more on international travel.

But it’s still not going to come easy for travel brands. Choosing and booking a holiday is a big decision. The cost-of-living crisis, increasing consumer requirements and the rise of the conscious traveller mean things are drastically different to how they were pre-2020 – and travel firms must adapt to ensure they’re able to get on travellers’ radars.

Making booking more fun

The first thing that travel brands have to think about is the ways they can make the booking process more enjoyable for holidaymakers.

While the pent-up desire to travel might be strong – 64% of people say they love to travel – only a quarter (26%) of people said they ‘love to book travel’, as per a study commissioned by Travelport.

With the average person spending more than 10 hours planning their holiday, it’s hardly a surprise that many travellers say holiday planning is one of life’s “biggest stressors”. A quarter of people say they have decided against going on holiday all together because they find organising a getaway so tiring.

It’s not just a generational thing either. A quarter of Gen Z respondents agreed the complexity of searching, comparing and booking travel offers “just isn’t fun”.

Where other industries have prioritised simplicity and personalisation – helping consumers to make difficult decisions – travel seems to be lagging behind. But brands need to be asking themselves how they can take some of the legwork away, reduce the customer journey, and use branded content to guide consumers towards the trip that’s right for them.


Holidaying while you work

Flexible booking policies are a good start to help take a bit of pressure off of hitting ‘book’.  By allowing travellers to change or cancel their holiday free of charge relatively close to the travel date, the theory is that it will reduce booking times.

At odds with that, however, is the fact that people have less money to play with right now due to the cost-of-living crisis, meaning travellers need more than just flexibility to follow through and book their holiday.

In a recent poll by Advertising Week Europe, almost half (46%) of the respondents said they would cut back on holidays and travel as a result of the cost-of-living squeeze.

What might persuade some travellers to part with their money is the ability to work while they’re away. The hybrid work culture, perpetuated by the pandemic, means this is now a real possibility for lots of people.

New Expedia Group research shows that 56% of those who often work remotely will take a ‘bleisure’ (business/leisure) trip in the next six months. Because, why not? But these types of holidays are entirely new to most people and will require travel brands to sell the experience.

Travel in the new world

In the post-pandemic world, people are looking at travel through a new gaze. Right at the top is sustainability, with people searching for ways to travel more responsibly, to make meaningful changes to help preserve our planet.

According to a 2022 survey by Expedia Group, 90% of people look for sustainable options when travelling – with two in five saying they’ve avoided a travel destination or transportation option due to scepticism that the commitment to sustainable practices is real. 

In addition to changing how they travel, people are reconsidering who they travel with. The desire to be together and reconnect is leading to a rise in larger group bookings, with 25% of UK customers said to be prioritising going away with their extended family to make up for lost time.

The invitation is even being extended to pets. With 3.2 million households having adopted a pet in the last two years, searchers for ‘dog-friendly holidays’ have increased by over 665%.

A more targeted approach

Travellers have their own individual requirements. The job of travel brands is to segment their different types of traveller/audience, help them make sense of their choices and then book with confidence.

Branded content enables travel companies to target each niche audience with memorable articles which play directly into their preferences. For example, for those considering the enviromantal impact of travel, brands can communicate how they are making their businesses more sustainable.

You don’t have to be a specialist travel brand to sell a specialist travel experience – but you do have to be targeting holidaymakers at the right time, in the right place.