As consumers grow more comfortable leaving their quarantine bubbles and travel restrictions begin to lift, experts project that people will take to planes, trains, and automobiles in record numbers.
More specifically, experts project this influx of travel to peak in the summer months. TripAdvisor’s latest report, “2021 Summer Travel Index,” states that 67% of Americans are planning to travel this summer (June-August). 74% of this group plan to travel domestically, while 13% will take their travel outside our borders.
As travel brands work on rebounding from the past year’s challenges, knowing how best to reach and interact with consumers as they browse and hunt for their vacations is essential. Whether it’s advanced cleaning protocols or free cancellations, let’s jump into what consumers expect and are looking for from travel brands before they hit the road this summer.
What are travelers’ expectations and trends for the summer?
As mentioned above, even though US consumers are more willing to travel this coming summer, there are still certain expectations they have to feel comfortable doing so. Below are a few of the top trends brands should be aware of for the summer, including accommodations consumers expect.
Enhanced Hygiene and Cleaning Protocols
According to YouGov, 57% of travelers rank cleanliness or hygiene as the top factor in selecting which airlines to fly and which hotels to book — outranking cost.
Free (or flexible) Cancelations and Changes
Consumers want the assurance that if plans change, they won’t lose their entire trip cost. A study by Squaremouth, a travel insurance provider, found that more people are purchasing travel insurance, specifically COVID-19 benefits, this year. Roughly 27% of purchasers are springing for the ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ upgrade compared to the 19% who did so in 2020.
Research. Research. Research.
Over the past year, consumers have been dreaming of their next vacation spot – where to go, stay, and what to do. So, when it finally comes time to book this long-awaited trip, they’ll spend more time researching, cost-comparing, and reading reviews to book their perfect vacation. Booking.com found that 95% of travelers spent time looking for vacation inspiration, with over a third of them (38%) looking at potential travel destinations as often as once a week.
People are extending their vacations.
Some people have an increase of expendable income brought on by a year of savings. Others found low-cost flights allowing for more spending on accommodations. At the same time, some people have new flexibility to work from anywhere. Or others simply have a strong desire to getaway. No matter the reason, travelers are opting for longer R&R. In the same Trip Advisor study mentioned above, they found that 29% of travelers will opt for a weeklong trip. In comparison, nearly the same amount (28%) will extend their trip to 10 days.
Outdoor (and warm) Destinations Will Prevail
Beach destinations will shine this summer, according to the Trip Advisor study. Specifically, consumers are looking for beach resorts and all-inclusive destinations. Find their complete list of top domestic destinations here.
Digilant Pro-Tip: Don’t Forget the Last-Minute Vacationers
Although consumers have been dreaming up their ideal vacation destination and will be opting for longer trips, there is an outlier trend that travel marketers can’t forget about this summer: last-minute getaways.
As consumers embrace the wait-and-see how we feel, approach, and understand that guidelines and restrictions can change rapidly, they’ll turn to road-trip-friendly destinations. In 2020, we saw a drastic increase in road-trip popularity. A recent study by Fifty Grande found that people felt most comfortable with hitting the road themselves in all travel-related activities. In turn, we don’t expect this trend to slow down.
This naturally lends itself to more last-minute, spontaneous trips that travel marketers should prepare for. So, whether it is a spontaneous decision or a spur-of-the-moment trip to visit family, travel marketers need to shell out some of their time and attention to this quick-thinking (and booking) group of vacationers.
How to achieve 5-Star Digital Marketing Plans: 7 Tips for Travel Marketers
Understanding how travelers will think this summer and what they will prioritize from brands will help set a creative direction for your advertising campaigns. But, how you get these ads in front of consumers will be faced with stiff competition as travel brands compete to secure these travel dollars.
An innovative and effective digital strategy ensures reaching these consumers at the right moment as they browse, research, and ultimately book their trip. Below, we’ve outlined seven digital strategies all travel marketers should consider implementing before the busy summer ahead.
1. Target audiences using Travel Intent Data
Reach travelers through unique data that includes loyalty, search and booking data, travel patterns, trends, and behavior from close to one billion monthly unique traveler profiles across more than 200 of the world’s top travel brands. This data allows marketers to see reach audiences through every stage of the booking journey, such as:
- Who is looking to book a trip
- Who has booked a trip to your destination
- Who has booked travel to a competitive destination.
2. Credit Card Data
Similar to travel intent data, by implementing 3rd party credit card data, brands can continue to reach consumers even as they make purchase decisions. This data helps reach consumers such as:
- Consumers who have booked a flight, but no hotel
- Consumers who have booked a hotel but no flight
- Consumers who have stayed at “X” hotel in the last few months (competitive conquesting)
Check out how our team used Visa data segments to help our luxury resort client target travelers who had stayed at competitor’s hotels in the past. Learn more here.
3. Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO)
Consumers have high expectations for the travel season ahead. DCO technology creates personalized ads based on data about the viewer at the moment when ads are served. This gives brands the ability to quickly iterate which ad creative they are displaying based on the user’s intent – showcasing the different ways you are meeting their expectations.
4. Paid Social
The power of social media influence goes far beyond retail and e-commerce. Over half of millennials have decided to visit a particular location after seeing user-generated photos on social media. 60% of people actually use social media to choose their travel destination. Brands need a social media presence to engage with active social media users. A paid social strategy helps amplify your reach to find new prospects and encourages website and landing page visits.
5. Paid Search and Broad Match
As mentioned above, research will be massive for travelers this summer. Trip Advisor found that nearly 3/4 of travelers will spend more time choosing a destination this year. Implementing broad match technology allows you to reach the widest audience via search and keyword use. When using this strategy, your ads are eligible to appear whenever a user searches any word in your key phrase, in any order.
6. Location-Based Targeting
Create custom location-based audiences by setting a specific radius that can be targeted on display or mobile devices. This gives marketers the ability to target people currently or who have previously traveled to a particular destination.
7. Adaptive Segmentation
As more consumers browse for trips, you want to ensure your marketing dollars reach your ideal and most engaged audience. Adaptive segmentation allows you to develop custom segments based on observed behaviors to reach the most qualified audience segment. This gives you the power to segment consumers based on attributes such as:
- Consumers who have visited your booking site multiple times
- Consumers who abandoned the booking cart
- Consumers who have clicked on ads but not yet converted.
Bonus Tip: Consider weather triggering
It was evident in projections for summer travel, consumers are looking to get outside and searching for warm, sunny destinations. Weather triggering gives you the ability to deliver ads based on real-time weather conditions. By setting weather triggers for cold, stormy, or rainy days, you can tap into consumers’ pathos with an ad highlighting your tropical, sunny destination.
Summer Travel is Around the Corner: Solidify with Digital Strategy Today!
Consumers are growing steadfast in their expectations from brands. This means it’s more essential them ever to market to consumers for the moment. And the way to do so is with a timely, strategic digital advertising campaign. Summer officially kicks off on June 20, which means travel brands have about two months to ensure they’ve set up for success for the season ahead.
Digilant’s Expertise in the Travel Marketing Industry
Whether it is helping a unique cruise line, like Bahamas Paradise, a ski town, or a tropical island’s tourism board, at Digilant, we know what it takes to employ a successful travel marketing strategy: a data-driven planning discipline with flawless execution across programmatic, search, social, and beyond.
Our partnerships with Adara, Expedia, and Trip Advisor give our clients access to exclusive traveler data. Pair this with our team of media experts and premier reporting and data analytics; we ensure every client thrives in this ultra-competitive market.
Are you interested in learning more about our travel marketing expertise? Learn more about our solutions here. And if you’re ready to invest in your digital marketing strategy, we’re eager to discuss a plan to fit your needs. Let’s talk.