Industry Insights

4 tips for nailing your marketing in the new travel era

Jade Taylor

Few industries have seen more turbulence during the coronavirus pandemic than the travel and hospitality industries. While travel has slowly picked up over the past year, the landscape of the industry remains irrevocably changed. Apart from the logistical issues of lingering travel restrictions, the way in which people think about holidays has also been fundamentally altered.

The times of last minute travel bookings or deciding destinations to go to without worrying about restrictions or testing are a thing of the past for now, but this hasn’t stifled humans’ desire to explore new places. Instead how they go about that exploration has altered to be more in line with greater interest in health and wellbeing, as well as longer stays to help justify the increased costs attached due to things like testing and increased flight costs.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some of the key changes we’ve seen, useful insights from experts and four key takeaways to help you be more effective in your marketing activity in 2022.

Travel Trends 2022

  • Millennials will be the largest demographic travelling
    • YouGov’s Global Travel Report 2021 found that Millennials will be the biggest demographic travelling overseas in the coming year. Baby Boomers and the upper end of Gen X are putting off their plans to explore beyond their shores due to health concerns, whereas Gen Z is largely willing to travel but unable due to the increased costs associated.

Currently, millennials make up a small percentage of HNWIs at only 12%, but they encompass a significant target market for the luxury industry– HENRYs. High Earning Not Rich Yet millennials, who focus on quality experiences are a key demographic for groups such as digital nomads (those choosing to live and work remotely from other countries for extended periods) and slow travellers (travelling with a focus on connection to local culture, people and experiences in a way that’s sustainable for the local community). A key way of capturing their attention will be through online content (think social, website and digital PR) that connects them digitally with the physical experience – such as peeks behind the scenes, authentic video tours and interviews with the people that make their time with you unforgettable.

Despite the health or financial concerns preventing overseas travel for Baby Boomers and Gen Z, we forecast there will be continued interest in staycations and domestic travel, with an increased interest in lesser known locations that are off the beaten track, making it important to not forget your domestic audience in your targeting.

  • Quality over Quantity

In the days before COVID, weekend breaks and short stays over a few days off were the norm, and in fact almost mandatory content on Instagram. These frequent trips were made possible by the affordability of air travel, the abundance of flights and being able to be in the air mere hours after booking. 

The damage done to the aviation sector will most likely take some time to recover, if it ever gets quite back to the days of plenty we saw before. Instead we’re now seeing the lifestyle of frequent business trips or quick weekend getaways being replaced by an ever more conscious approach to travel.

In the future, the slower pace of travel and the ease of remote working enabling an even greater number of people choosing to try being digital nomads will require greater focus on high-quality travel experiences that are more integrated with local communities. 

The desire for more in depth and extended travel is causing a shift in how our hospitality clients are planning their new building projects, with the Marriott seeing average length of stay double and an increase in desire for space as a result (read more in Matter Of Form’s latest travel white paper ‘Redefining Luxury in the Era of Thoughtful Travel’).

Travel companies should review what their offering is and if they need to create additional services to help capture this audience, prior to utilising Organic and Paid Search to capture the attention of them.

  • Wellness over indulgence

Health is still very much at the top of everyone’s agenda, and we believe this will continue even as restrictions reduce. We are seeing audiences increasingly seek a different type of experience, wanting to use their holiday time to improve their mental and physical well being.

The impact of this increased interest can be seen in the upwards trend for wellness retreat searches over the past 5 years, only dipping when restriction levels were at their peak.

In line with the overall consumer interest in bodily wellbeing, we believe an increase in travel associated with spiritualism and religion will also increase in popularity as people move on from prioritising physical health to holistic mind and body wellness.

  • Community investment over Cultural tourism

Many sought out distant lands as a way to view new cultures and learn about other traditions, but from a distance. In a move away from the voyeuristic nature of this, increasingly more people now want to have more hands-on experiences with local communities that’s far more sustainable. 

While voluntourism experiences have received plenty of criticism, these types of holidays offer an opportunity to really get to know the people who make up the places we visit – which many are hungry for. Searcher intent based around exploration is indicative of this need to engage as well. 

For the luxury sector, this could be opportunities for guests to authentically engage with the local community, shaping meaning to their travel experience and sync with this intention in a way that suits a high end offering. 

Micro Hospitality is a perfect example of this in practice – nomadic hotels that are designed to give back to the local communities, whilst also providing an exclusive experience to the limited number of people who are able to gain access.

Key Marketing Takeaways

With the above in mind, we’ve outlined our top four pieces of advice to help guide your marketing plans for the year.

1. Take a multifaceted approach 

The largest driver of holiday focused search traffic remains around destination, but neglecting to consider the ever increasing experience led audiences puts you at risk of missing out on valuable transactions.

Approach your marketing strategy with an awareness of the different personas, ensuring that you have content, campaigns and promotional materials that are relevant to each group’s needs.

2. Content is still king 

Content creation remains crucial to developing your identity online and making yourself discoverable – whether that’s through the blogs on your site, Instagram reels or videos that help bring your location to life. The content you create has the power to be a valuable tool to reflect the changing trends in a strategic way – getting your offering in front of a wider audience and contributing to moving people along the sales funnel.

Your content should embody your brand’s personality, communicate your values and align with your audience’s changing needs. Increasingly, this needs to be on a more granular level to directly target certain personas – for slow travellers this could be a campaign for day trip itineraries, remote workers could benefit from inspiring work from home locations, or wellness seekers might enjoy content focused on what activities are available beyond the gym or spa.

Your content must always have a solid Organic basis to help increase the ROI of your SEO budget, and to minimise CPCs of your Paid spend.

3. Varied influencer partnerships 

Working these different motivations into your influencer strategy ensures that you continue to capture new audiences, while still maintaining a relationship with your current one. Existing influencer partnerships can stay open and capture the broader interest, while new ones can be cultivated that resonate with alternative travel motives. We would recommend looking at smaller influencers highly aligned with the values of the audience you’re looking to target to increase authenticity.

Long term, this might look like a varied database of partnerships that cater to the multitude of holiday intentions on a more granular level – ensuring an all bases covered approach. 

4. Use Paid to win where you can’t organically and to help you be hyper targeted with your media spend 

If you’re starting to go after some of the niche travel audiences, chances are you won’t be ranking organically for key topics yet, and best case scenario it will take around 6 months for you to start to. To prevent missing out on this valuable traffic in 2022, start by creating key landing pages and utilising Paid to drive initial traffic whilst you build out authority.

Please get in touch via our form to arrange an informal chat to see how we can help you with your digital marketing.


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