Travel and Hospitality: What’s Next?

Editor’s Note: With cases on the rise again in the US, the Ansira Strategy team continues their work to stay on top of the trends and rapidly changing consumer sentiment to help clients navigate through recovery and beyond.

As COVID-19 has swept across the globe, the travel and tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit industry verticals. With borders closed and travel restricted, travel consumer analysis and communication strategies have been turned on their heads. We, at Ansira, have been helping clients navigate through this crucial time to plan for reopening. We help clients better understand the pandemic’s impact on consumers’ intent to travel and when that travel may occur, as well as consumer expectations for health and safety protocols while traveling.

We use a multi-pronged approach to help with the development of reopening and recovery plans.

  • Mine third-party data sources to determine current mindsets, sentiment, and expectations for future travel
  • Track and trend economic, mobility, and booking data to help forecast the recovery timeline
  • Identify key target audiences that will likely be early adopters for travel
  • Field surveys to previous visitors to understand propensity of return travel and expectations

From our research we have learned some key insights:

  1. The consumer’s intent to travel has been hindered more by restrictions vs fear of the virus. When restrictions ease, we expect the travel industry to pick up, but losses will continue through at least the end of the year or beyond.
  2. Distance will play a part in travel decision making. 36% of US travelers report they plan to select destinations closer to home. Additionally, 42% of US travelers report they plan to travel more often by car.
  3. Beaches and outdoor activities rank highest for near-term travel considerations. Privacy and exclusivity have increased in importance when determining where to stay.
  4. Millennials are more likely to travel internationally than other age groups, with a majority feeling comfortable to book a trip 6+ months out. They are also more likely to look for special offers or discounts.

In addition to third-party research, we have been tracking various sources of mobility and booking datasets to understand the who, the where, and the when. From a targeting perspective, these data-driven insights highlight the areas of the country most likely to be receptive to travel messaging and pinpoint early adopters within those areas. Booking data gives us insight as to when travel is being booked. Combining these insights with first-party data, we have developed a dynamic forecasting tool to help our clients plan for recovery scenarios. Since the novel coronavirus is unprecedented, data is constantly changing. This dynamic tool provides our clients with the ability to make adjustments to factors such as region, demographics, and reopening dates that impact the forecast.

Another key area where we have helped our clients is by informing their local partners on the consumer expectations for health and safety protocols while traveling, such as:

  • Our research has shown that customers would be more interested in visiting businesses with an official COVID-19 health certification. Certified cleaning protocols, health screening for employees, and limiting capacity all rank as important for travelers, but more so for the older, Baby Boomer generation.
  • Hotel cancellation policies and cleaning protocols will have most influence on traveler booking selections. Travelers would like to have hand sanitizer and PPE provided to them at hotels and be able to see cleaning activity in public areas during their stay.
  • Travelers are looking to hotels, airlines, and official tourism authorities to provide information about traveling safely. These are more official sources of information – as opposed to word-of-mouth information on social media or review sites that used to factor more into consumers’ research prior to COVID.

As the recovery ebbs and flows for the travel and tourism industry, contact us if you’d like to chat through ways we can help. And, consider reading a brief highlight of how we helped our Aruba Tourism Authority client to revise their visitor segmentation and modeling so they could send more personalized, relevant content to prospects via a global email platform that deploys communication in nine languages across 120 countries.

By Amy Ochoa

Amy Ochoa is SVP, Head of Strategy at Ansira and has over 25 years of experience leveraging data, analytics, technology and creativity to provide strategic recommendations that increase customers’ overall value, deliver business growth and increase profitability for our clients.