Traveler at empty airport due to COVID-19 impact

Bags packed and ready to travel, someday. But for now, with coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeping the country and strict shelter-in-place restrictions in effect, people on the move have had to stay in and embrace being homebodies. Here’s a look at how COVID-19 is affecting travel and tourism today and the three areas travel industry marketers can work on now to positively impact results later.

How the Travel and Tourism Industry Has Had To Change Course

COVID-19 has not only threatened our health but also the health of the travel and tourism industry. In fact, more than 50% of U.S. adults have canceled travel plans for the next few months in response to COVID-19. With these travel plans either postponed or canceled, the entire industry – from hotels to airlines to tourist attractions – has had to pay a high price. In its “The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses,” Oxford Economics estimates this high price at a $355B deficit, forcing marketers to completely shift priorities on their marketing road map.

COVID-19-Impact-Travel-Plans-Chart

Bookings at hotels and airlines are down and decreasing, but history tells us this is likely temporary. During the 2008-2009 great recession, certain public travel companies were trading at all-time lows. But coming out of that period, according to Yahoo Finance, those same companies saw rebounds of 500% within six months. Though COVID-19 is a health crisis, not an economic one, consumer behavior will still likely follow this pattern once we get a handle on this virus: after a big decrease, a big rebound.

How Travelers Are Feeling Now

GlobalWebIndex recently published a survey detailing what it would take to persuade users in the United Kingdom and United States to book travel during the coronavirus outbreak, and here’s what they found:

COVID-19-Impact-Travel-Habits-Chart

Just when the airline, hotel and hospitality industries can re-engage customers to drive bookings and revenue is unknown at this time. But if you’re a travel and tourism brand wishing to take advantage of new market share in the future, now’s the time  to plan and prepare how you will most efficiently and effectively reach customers, when you can.

How To Prepare Your Travel and Tourism Brand Today for Tomorrow

To start planning and laying your brand’s groundwork today for the greatest impact tomorrow, here are our digital advertising pros’ top tips:

  • Practice Good Customer Data Hygiene: Sort out all the customer data you own. Organize and strategize how to best use it now. Then model audiences to gain insight into your customers’ highest lifetime value. This will give you a strong point of view on who to reach first once the travel and tourism industry can resume normal marketing efforts.
  • Find the Human Connections: People remember how brands make them feel. Take the time to study and understand the emotional connections you already have with your customers. From these insights, redefine your current marketing communication and advertising efforts.
  • Develop a Smart Re-engagement Strategy: According to eMarketer, 47% of travelers with canceled trips plan to rebook domestically. As important as it is to find net-new customers, the first step is to go after those people who are already in-market. Start collecting data on those individuals who have canceled or postponed their trips. Taking this tack at the start will help you achieve easy wins, find your footing and bounce back to business as usual, just as soon as it’s possible.

Though you’re navigating through unprecedented times and unchartered territory, we can help you find your way to your new normal. We’ve helped brands large and small to harness the customer data they own, map where to take their brand next and find new ways to creatively connect with and engage their loyal customers and new prospects into lasting relationships. Looking for a lighter touch? Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to receive up-to-the-minute COVID-19 digital advertising best practices, industry trends and the expertise you need right now. So when the time is right, you can be ready – to help people fly again, enjoy a home away from home again – and once again, see the sights they’ve been longing to see.

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