7 Pandemic-Proof Travel Marketing Ideas You Need To Try
Globetrotter. Wanderlust. Vacay mode. Free spirit. Travel Addict. Explorer.
These words ruled travel marketing for years as people of all ages traveled worldwide, chronicling their adventures.
But the pandemic replaced them with lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, sanitization, and “Stay home, Stay Safe”.
With everyone mostly confined to their homes, the travel industry had a major crisis on its hands. All businesses came to a halt, causing a ripple across ancillary industries like catering, event management, and tours.
But the travel industry couldn’t just pause everything waiting for things to subside. As they say, the show must go on. And so must marketing.
But before we talk of the state of travel marketing, let’s take a look at how the pandemic has affected the travel industry. And the unique challenges it’s overcoming.
COVID-19 and the grounded Travel Industry
The year 2020 and even 2021, to date, have not been particularly good for the travel industry. In fact, it’s been downright awful at times. Even though the restrictions are easing slowly across European countries, the situation remains bleak in Asia and Africa.
Experts estimate that the losses in the whole travel and tourism value chain touched a trillion dollars and can only be recovered by 2024. This is an enormous hit, not just for this industry, but for the world economy too.
To fully recover from this, the industry needs customer sentiment shift, government aid, and a lot of hard work. So, what can you do now when half the world is under rotating lockdowns?
Well, travel marketing is a good place to start so that when the time is right, customers choose you to resume their travel plans.
Travel Marketing during the COVID-19 Pandemic
When the travel industry was put on notice and operations all but ceased, most marketing campaigns also stopped to save what cash the firms had.
Airbnb, one of the largest unicorn startups in the travel sector downsized and ditched major marketing campaigns to keep itself afloat. It made sense, as hardly anyone could travel or should travel, it wasn’t exactly something to promote.
But, things are changing. Vaccinations are helping people resume their explorations, and the travel industry has gotten a second chance. Even Airbnb is back with innovative campaigns to revive the customers’ travel sentiment.
Traveler sentiment is also changing. People are planning holidays again with family, wellness-oriented trips, and even adventure trips with a vengeance to make up for the lost time.
Keeping up with Travelers’ Trends
Above, you’ll see examples of changing customer sentiment and plans for travel from an American Express Survey
This is a good sign for all small and large-scale businesses in the travel industry. And an indicator that it’s time to dust their shoes off and start marketing like never before. It is time to go big and get people out of their homes (safely, of course).
If you are wondering how any travel marketing is possible when the fear of COVID-19 persists, we have news for you.
Marketing is a continuous process. You cannot switch it on or off and expect the same results.
If you want to create brand awareness, indulge in smart marketing techniques, and build a loyal following for your business, then never take your foot off the gas. Your techniques, and messages may vary, but it’s important for your audience to feel your presence on an ongoing basis.
That’s why we’ve put together a fresh set of pandemic-proof promotional ideas to get your travel marketing campaigns going. So that you can keep driving engagement while you revamp your business model based on the pandemic.
Pandemic-Proof Travel Marketing Ideas
We are sure you already know that travel is a sensitive topic around the world now. With the COVID-19 cases on the rise, it is prudent to advise caution while keeping passion for travel ignited.
It is a tough line to toe, but not impossible.
You can promote your business in the travel industry and keep your audiences engaged crossing no lines. How, you ask?
Well, in that case, let’s dive right in.
1) Update your Website
Whenever it is time for a pivot in your travel marketing strategy, begin with your website. Your website is the doorway to your brand. Customers evaluate your business, brand voice, and ethics from their first impression of your homepage.
Search engines also rank your business based on speed, content, and how customers respond to your website.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your old strategies may be obsolete, and your team has rightly thought of many innovative new offerings.
If you want this revamp to reach customers, your website can do that in the best possible way.
Some ways to use your website to promote your business in the travel industry are:
- Redesign your homepage, specifically the headers and sliders, to promote the new services.
- Start a bulletin or a separate web page on COVID-19 updates and the measures your business is taking to handle them.
- Optimize your content and design assets for the current travel trends such as sanitized stays, social-distanced travel, and local tourism.
Kimp Tip: Imagery, color palette, and aesthetic are powerful indicators of your brand’s position. When you pivot to a new offering, ensure you update your creatives based on what would appeal to a specific customer base.
Airbnb’s revamped Website highlights “Online Experiences” rather than simply hard-selling destinations. This allows potential customers to choose from virtual, or in-person experiences depending on what they prefer.
2) Refresh your Social Media Handles
Just as you did with your website, it is time to take a long look at your social media profiles too. If the profiles don’t match with your new offerings, talk to a design team to improve them.
Customers expect businesses to educate and engage with content through their social media handles. They look at the brands’ pages and content before deciding to conduct business with them. So, your social media pages must reflect your products/services, business models, ethics, brand personality, and brand identity.
In platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, your feed layout is also crucial.
Update your social media profiles to provide a consistent experience to your customers on all platforms.
Kimp Tip: A consistent visual identity across platforms is vital for brand awareness and improves brand recall value. Ensure that all your graphics and video content follows your brand style. Engage a design team with the capacity to provide all travel marketing materials to avoid any confusion.
3) Promote Local
Often people travel miles away for an experience that they could have had in their backyard itself. Local places are gems that locals often miss out on.
The interest in local travel and tourism has increased multifold because of the ongoing lockdowns and travel restrictions in crossing borders.
In such scenarios, you can motivate your travel-starved customer base with interesting finds in their locality and showering them with customized packages.
Consider pivoting your travel marketing strategy to local tourism for very localized customers. Pay attention to local Google My Business searches. Optimize your content to attract people looking to travel and experience their local regions.
To promote your travel industry business to customers interested in local trips, you can:
- Do a solo hike at a destination you’re promoting, with all safety precautions, and document it via Instagram stories.
- Start a local spot weekly feature on your social media handles or blog for promotion. If you are doing it on Instagram, you can curate it into a location-based guide too.
- Run giveaways or free spots for people who travel with their families.
- Install a digital billboard in your target locality to showcase weekly tours.
- Distribute flyers, posters, and brochures via local newspaper and magazine suppliers.
Kimp Tip: By using actual images with professional editing and branding instead of stock images, you can secure higher engagement rates. Customers have a higher chance of booking after seeing the pictures on your digital handles. You can use them for your offline travel marketing campaigns too.
Above is an example of a tour company’s engaging video on local tourism by local people.
4) Invoke nostalgia using Throwbacks
The hashtag “Throwback” has close to 119M posts. ThrowbackThursday and ThrowbackTuesday are a constant on every platform. Right from influencers to celebrities, everyone is reminiscing about the good old pre-pandemic days.
Use this trend to invoke nostalgia in your followers. Post throwback pictures of your pre-pandemic travels, events, tours, and adventures. Connect with your audience and make them a part of your story.
This will tell your customers that you were a trustworthy name in the pre-pandemic days and when the time comes to travel, they should choose you.
You can also encourage your existing customers to share their throwback memories with your company. Repost these across your social media handles.
Another way to invoke the emotion of nostalgia is to celebrate #tripanniversaries on your blogs, and social media handles with professionally designed posts.
Kimp Tip: Branding is essential in all your curation of throwback posts. Edit them with a professional design team. You can also create throwback videos using simple animation techniques to improve the engagement factor.
Need some helping editing and animating videos? Try out Kimp Video to see how you can enhance your photos by turning them into a video.
User-generated content is always a great way to reinforce the value your brand has to offer! Above is an example, with a a throwback picture found in the tagged section of Vietnam Tourism Board’s Instagram page.
5) Captivate the At-Home-Audience with Unique Marketing Campaigns
Your primary audience that is always on the go is now at home. They are missing their adventures and are probably bored out of their minds. With engaging and unique marketing campaigns, you can grab their attention.
Some of the popular travel marketing campaigns during this pandemic include:
- Airbnb’s “possible with the host” campaign where real customers shared their heartwarming stories on how meeting new people and experiencing kindness and hospitality from them changed them.
- A Thai airline opened up their flights into a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals for people missing them.
- Emirates, a famous luxury airline, launched a campaign where the head chefs taught how to make their signature dishes.
Campaigns like these improve brand awareness, instill brand loyalty, and keep the audience engaged.
Kimp Tip: Video ads have a higher shareability, engagement rate, and conversation rate as well. Choose to launch your world-class marketing campaigns with Kimp Video for a seamless and pocket-friendly experience.
6) Promote Pandemic-Proof Offerings
All marketing campaigns should have one goal: to create a desire and aspiration for your product.
Today, the biggest hurdle that the travel industry has to overcome is to reduce the fear of traveling in customers. Yes, you are taking every precaution, and traveling is safe with you.
But, how is your customer to know that?
Promote your pandemic-proof travel organization plans with them at every opportunity.
Ways to promote your pandemic-proof offerings are:
- Use graphics and videos to show how the flights, buses, and trains are now social-distancing ready.
- Make the booking process easy and quick to accommodate customers who travel on short notice.
- Capture a video of your employees getting their vaccination to assure your customers that traveling with your crew is absolutely safe.
- Share a BTS video of the hotels, flights, and resting areas getting sanitized for the customers.
- Reach out to your existing customers via email newsletters to share your initiatives.
Kimp Tip: The rule of thumb on social media is always to show and not tell. Maximize the usage of graphics, photos, images, and videos in all your posts to make a powerful statement.
Above is Kochi Marriott’s post on its Facebook page on their safety procedures. Notice the branding on the image to build brand awareness.
7) Create a comprehensive Content Strategy
We saved the best for the last. Stay with us for this. You need this. Bill Gates said, “Content is King” twenty years ago. It is now truer than ever.
If you want to promote your business in the travel industry and not let it be a victim of this pandemic, you need a comprehensive content strategy.
And, when we say comprehensive, we mean it. Plan your content strategy across online and offline channels. Utilize every weapon in your armory and leave no stone unturned in your travel marketing.
But, what does a comprehensive online and offline content strategy look like?
- Design and create content that you can repurpose across offline and online channels. For example, repurpose your billboard ad into a Facebook Ad with minor tweaks. This promotes branding consistency and makes your brand easily recognizable.
- Include local offline marketing in your content marketing plan. Plan to deliver posters, flyers, and brochures for local tours either via mailboxes or newspapers to make it contactless.
- Create content that addresses your customers’ needs right from the awareness stage to the conversion stage.
- Use influencer travel marketing to improve the reach of your brand.
- Amplify social proof such as reviews, testimonials, appreciation messages, and user-generated content as much as possible. Cross-share these on different platforms for best results.
Kimp Tip: Maintain a constant presence in your customer’s life, both online and offline. Ensure that all the content you design and post follow a uniform visual identity guide and the branding remains intact.
The Kimp Graphics team specializes in both offline and online marketing collateral design. With a single team handling your project, you never have to worry about branding or visual identity inconsistencies.
Kimp – A Trusted Design Partner for Travel Marketing
Things are quite tense in the travel industry now. Businesses are under tremendous pressure to constantly innovate and excel at their offerings to their customers.
And so, professional graphic design and video design can be especially game-changing assets today. A small investment in them can go a long way. And with Kimp, that investment will be worth it.
Our design team, with their specialized skills, will help you change the face of your travel marketing, while keeping your branding consistent.
Sign up for a free trial today.