Vaccinated vacations are a real thing. The post-vax travel boom is seeing an overwhelming majority of people ready to hit the road.
According to PredictHQ’s Vaccine Impact Report, 75% of people are looking forward to traveling and return to pre-COVID travel once they complete their vaccination cycle.
But despite this uptick, it’s essential to keep in mind that travelers have entirely different expectations.
According to Destination Analysis’s report that surveyed 1200+ Americans, here’s what has changed:
- Demand for summer travel is rising. 77% of Americans will reportedly take a trip in the next three months.
- Local tourism is favorable. 33% of those surveyed want to travel in their local community.
- Pandemic protocols remain important. 70% of Americans want at least one pandemic protocol to be enforced.
So, how can the travel industry prepare for the comeback travel wave and stay ahead of the curve?
5 ways you can prep for the comeback travel on Paid Social
#1 Know what travelers want throughout their journey
To improve the online sales funnel, the travel industry has to adopt a more granular approach.
And, the first step is to understand what travelers are looking for and serve them throughout their journey.
For instance, a ton of travelers are looking to cross off once-in-a-lifetime destinations off their bucket list. According to Expedia’s global research, 66% of people have been inspired to create a bucket list because of the pandemic.
Given that information, it is vital to start curating lists of classic destinations and serving that information.
In 2020, 65% of the global travel and tourism market revenue came from online sales channels. And with the surge and the uptick in online searches, it’s essential to prep your website for the increased visits.
Finally, you want to implement accurate retargeting based on the travel intent. For instance, 70% of Americans surveyed by Destination Analysis are ready to participate in large outdoor events. You want to ensure that your retargeting echoes the traveler’s sentiments.
- Understand what travelers want
- Prepare your website for the surge
- Run specific retargeting campaigns
#2 Deliver Personalized Ads with Dynamic Creative
Decius Valmorbida, president of the travel unit at Amadeus, a travel tech company, calls this surge ‘bubble travel.’ People want a “full, more controlled experience.”
To offer that level of personalization, you have to look at personalized ads powered by dynamic creatives.
Dynamic creative ads allow you to feed in any kind of data - weather, location, age, interest - and automatically create 1000s of personalized ads in minutes.
According to the Expedia report, 57% of travelers want detailed information about the destination.
If you are an online travel agency (OTA), you can create hundreds of these ads with details to hook the traveler with dynamic creatives.
#3 Run Creative Testing Experiments
With some countries implementing new rules and new strains of the coronavirus affecting others, the traveler sentiment is evolving rapidly.
Travel brands have to be on their toes and use insights from current surveys and reports and examine what works and what doesn’t in their ads.
You can no longer afford to have a set it and forget it type of marketing campaign or rely on historical data.
Several reports, including the Destination Analysis and Expedia, point to people wanting to travel to areas within driving distance. Still, with more people getting vaccinated, some people are finally comfortable getting on a plane or a train.
So, if your ads promote local destinations, you may want to A/B test and see if destinations that are a short flight away get some traction.
Another factor that you want to keep testing is cost. Even though people are gearing up to travel to their bucket list destinations, price expectations haven’t caught up.
40.4% of people feel that this is a buyer’s market. With online sales and Google’s penetration into the travel market, people will book the travel experience that is the least expensive out of the lot.
#4 Focus on localization & customization
57,1% of people surveyed by Destination Analysis reported that they would be happy to see an ad promoting their community for tourism.
Expedia’s report states that people’s first mode of preference to reach a destination is by car.
Put those two together, and you have your answer. Local travel destinations are in right now. Your ads must serve local content using multi-lingual ads and prioritize them until more countries fully open up their borders.
The second aspect to zero in on is customization - offer travelers the ability to custom pick the components of their holiday.
Travel is no longer an outlet for relaxation. Due to the pandemic, people have placed greater emphasis on securing experiences. And with that comes the need to be in complete control of each aspect of their travel experience.
That has given rise to the ‘Build now, Pay later’ trend. This offers consumers the flexibility and customization they seek, and it could be the ticket to recovery for the travel industry.
The level of customization also extends to the duration of stay and the amenities available. People that continue to work remotely are looking for vacation rentals. This means they seek out their favorite amenities that allow them to work and relax at the same place. 70% of people, as per the Expedia report, are willing to pay more for their favorite amenities.
A stay and save campaign with custom amenities in the mix might just be the need of the hour.
#5 Choose the right social platform and ad format
Over 50% of the world’s population is now active on social media, thanks to the pandemic.
If you’re targeting Western Europe, Instagram should be your #1 priority. The monthly user count is now 3x of the pre-pandemic estimates.
Immersive content, virtual tours are preferred by travelers in countries that are not fully vaccinated and those that want to imagine every detail of their trip ahead.
Story ads are increasingly popular. And Shana Bull, a digital marketer for hospitality businesses in the Bay Area and Wine Country, agrees. “Facebook and Instagram ads - specifically videos within Instagram Stories will help differentiate themselves as more of an experience because video and social media ads are visual.”
But short-form video content may be the money move. With TikTok’s rise, short-form video has made its way to almost every platform. Instagram has Reels, YouTube has Shorts, and Snapchat has Spotlight.
In line with the need to immerse themselves in travel virtually, gamification is another trend to watch out for. Interactive style content and choose your own adventure makes for greater user satisfaction and improves conversions.
What do travelers want in 2021?
We’ve referenced changing expectations throughout the article, but here is a neat breakdown of what travelers are looking for throughout their journey:
Impact of the vaccine on travel:
- 75% of vaccinated travelers plan to travel in the next 3-6 months (PredictHQ)
- 50% of vaccinated travelers will travel for work only if they have to (PredictHQ)
- 71% are looking to attend a large event post-vaccination (PredictHQ)
- 77% of travelers surveyed globally reported that post vax international travel is on the cards, and 86% of them would travel domestically. (Tripadvisor)
What kind of post-vax travel activities are Americans looking to indulge in?
- 48% want to visit a friend or family in a different state
- 40% want to go on a holiday
- 35% want to attend large, outdoor events
- 30% want to attend concerts
- 28% want to attend sports events
Domestic vs. International: Where do people want to travel?
- 47% of travelers surveyed globally wish to travel internationally, including 45% of US travelers. (Tripadvisor)
- 11% of global respondents have already booked an international trip. In the US, that number is 14% (Tripadvisor)
- 70% of visitors on Tripadvisor booked future domestic trips. May-August are the most popular months for domestic vacations.
- 74% of travelers surveyed plan to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip. 34% of Americans are planning at least three domestic trips in 2021. (Tripadvisor)
More time spent researching destinations:
- 74% of global respondents reportedly said that they will spend more time choosing a destination in 2021. 64% of US travelers will spend more time reading reviews, 63% will zero in on selecting the right accommodation, and 70% will spend more time finding things to do. (Tripadvisor)
- 57% of travelers said that detailed photos give them the confidence to book accommodation (Expedia)
- 89% of people surveyed want to see information or features of the surrounding location (Expedia)
What motivates travelers to extend their stay?
According to Expedia, here are the top reasons people are willing to prolong their vacation:
- Free breakfast
- Upgrade room
- Drink and food vouchers
- Attending an experience or event
Hunch can help you get back in the game. Here’s how:
Consumers are looking for highly tailored experiences with the right details in a landscape that is constantly evolving.
The best way to meet travelers’ expectations while automating the process is to use Hunch’s platform that allows you to automate the creation of dynamic ads and gives you control to experiment with data points and control your media spend.
Here’s how partnering with Hunch helped these travel brands.
Mini Case Study #1: G Adventures used automated ads to scale
Without Hunch automated ads and that level of granularity, we wouldn’t be able to get back into the game after COVID-19 hit.
- Millie Yervantinan, Global Manager – Digital Marketing at G Adventures
G Adventures, one of Canada's largest adventure travel companies and a world leader in the adventure industry, got back in the game after COVID-19 hit with Hunch’s help.
The biggest problem G Adventures faced was managing the large number of travel destinations where localization was crucial for creatives, pricing, and other demographic details.
It resulted in a non-scalable process where they spent too much time and resources putting together their ads in their five key markets.
Using Hunch’s automated ad solution for catalogs, G Adventures could get more granular with its strategies in each market. We helped G Adventures generate beautiful image and video ads at scale.
Read the entire case study here.
Mini Case Study #2: Air Serbia took on social in an innovative way
“With Hunch, we can go quickly from the idea to the realization. Using innovative technology, we have been able to test different concepts and find out which one is for certain the one that works best and move forward.” - Srdjan Plamenac, Head of eCommerce at Air Serbia
Air Serbia, a legacy carrier and the best airline in Southeast Europe, used Hunch to maintain its position as a leader and improved its sales channels.
For a well-established airline, better visibility was a challenge. Air Serbia wanted to take on social in an innovative way.
With Hunch, Air Serbia optimized their customer journeys for flyers looking to book a trip. Through high-impact video posts and story format ads, users were served a unique ad while browsing Facebook and Instagram.
Based on their activity on the Air Serbia website, retargeted users were shown their dream destinations.
Using flight dynamic ads, Hunch automated a complete social media dynamic retargeting campaign system for 73 flights around 54 destinations.
Read the entire case study here.
Mini Case Study #3: Qatar Airways captured more online bookings
At the beginning of 2020 together with Hunch we launched the dynamic campaign DISCOVER - EXPLORE – EXPERIENCE campaign, promoting 40 destinations in our network relevant to the Serbian market. This is the first time we tried dynamic ads and the results showed that, unlike the static ones, these types of ads really increased the interest of the target audience and they grabbed their attention. So if you want someone to think out of the box, to fully understand an outcome you want to achieve, to follow-up and to advise you, Hunch is your choice..
- Maja Protic, Marketing and E-Commerce Executive Qatar Airways Serbia
Qatar Airways, the youngest global airline, serves six continents and is the world’s fastest-growing airline. They used Hunch’s platform to grow their revenue.
Qatar Airways had a unique problem - capturing more online bookings. In an industry where consumers are fatigued by the same type of travel ad, they turned to Hunch to personalize ads at scale.
With Hunch’s automated solution, they were able to optimize customer journeys for potential flyers.
They witnessed incremental results for their destination ads after using Hunch.
Customer journeys cannot meet their full potential without customer data.
The recent rollout of Apple’s ATT update will make it more difficult to track user behavior, which means that marketers will have fewer data to personalize their ads with.
Even worse, the new privacy measures are likely to drive up costs for advertisers who want access to this valuable information
Since it's us, you've already assumed that we have an ace up our sleeves. Thus, I've prepared an on-point pocket guide if you ever want to learn more about how to leverage link clicks and personalized advertising without sacrificing user privacy.
Prepare for the comeback travel with Hunch. Get in touch with us for a free strategy call today.