Consumers frustrated by travel industry’s messaging during COVID—what needs to change?

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Covid-19, Public Relations

Not surprisingly in a still-COVID-entrenched world, most consumers remain wary of travel, and new research from CX software provider Redpoint Global finds that 67 percent are expressing frustration at receiving vacation offers when they are unable (or unwilling) to travel. Ultimately, many are dissatisfied with the travel industry’s inability to deliver personalized communications during COVID-19—revealing that personalization is key to travel marketing.

According to the firm’s new survey, conducted by Dynata, only 24 percent of consumers believe that travel companies consistently deliver messaging pre-trip, during and post-trip. Yet, 73 percent expect personalized, real-time messaging to feel safe and comfortable this year. Right now, communicating with clear information on mask mandates, enhanced cleaning, social distancing protocols, possible COVID-19 testing and crowd management matter more than any other type of touchpoints or offers.

“No sector of the market was hit as hard by the pandemic as travel and hospitality, and there is a big push to recoup the losses,” said Dale Renner, CEO and co-founder of Redpoint Global, in a news release. “However, the biggest thing for these brands to understand is that their guests have very different needs and wants from travel than they have in the past. Personalizing the end-to-end experience and offering as much assurance as possible on safety trumps cost for most of today’s travelers.”

When will travel get back to normal?

The research revealed that while 60 percent of Americans are not planning any travel this summer or fall, the appetite for travel is quickly ramping up, especially from those fully vaccinated. The survey showed that 46 percent of vaccinated consumers plan to travel at least once during the summer months, with a majority planning interstate travel. Among these vaccinated consumers, 79 percent say they eventually plan to travel more or about the same as they did pre-pandemic.

“Working with Redpoint for years we’ve been able to create a hyper-personalized guest experience that is customized from end-to-end,” said Andrew Heltzel, corporate director of Marketing & CRM for Xanterra Travel Collection, in the release. “Because of this access to customer data, we were able to hear directly from our guests about the type of messaging they wanted and quickly deliver that content. We have prioritized health and safety messaging since the early days of the pandemic and highlighted travel options based on guest behavior and travel preferences across our portfolio. We’ve already seen a lot of renewed growth and feel we are well-prepared to meet our guest needs now and into the future.”

Communications from travel brands should focus more on safety and personalized messaging rather than deals and low-cost options

To interest others in 2021 travel and beyond, the travel industry needs to step up when it comes to personalized communication in general, as 69 percent believe having seamless pre-trip, during and post-trip personalization is an ongoing expectation that will last long after the pandemic is over.

“Once travel brands prove they are listening and assure guests of the safety of travel, the growth can happen quickly,” said Scot Hornick, Partner at Oliver Wyman, in the release “There’s a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel; last year’s ‘stay-cations,’ foregone family reunions, and missed graduation parties have translated for many consumers, into a sense of entitlement to a great time this summer travel season. For those embracing travel, many will splurge to treat their families to something special this time around, but getting the right offer in front of them – particularly something that captures their imagination with a novel idea or extra-special activity – will be the key to tapping into this splurge mentality vs. letting others capture it.”

This survey was conducted via Dynata and targeted 1,000 general U.S.-based consumers over 18 years of age.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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