Yellow suitcase with tickets and travel accessories

Your Audience is Ready To Travel. Are you Ready for Them?

As more people feel safer having the COVID-19 vaccine, they’re looking to get out and travel again. Out, but not too far out. Although travel dreams are building, would-be adventurers remain indecisive about spreading their wings.

What does this period of safe domestic travel portend for hospitality in 2021?

The Brandon Agency conducted its own research, through the Fuel Travel Sentiment studies. The goal: understand where the consumer mindset rests for a vacation in 2021. As they plan and book getaways, what is important to them – and what is worrisome?

The Brandon Agency also turned to its partner, Global Web Index, for further insight.

Who is searching and where are they going?

They’ve found vacationers looking for outdoor activities, considerate cancellation policies, and customer reviews. What places are deemed safe? Often, beach excursions are most popular.

Who is making tracks for the coast? The smart money would have been on Baby Boomers, says Shelby Greene Selner. She’s Vice President and Media Director at The Brandon Agency.

Selner says the agency saw signs of life late last year and into 2021.

“We saw interest increase in our travel partners through search increases,” Selner said. “Also, time on site, pages viewed, and occupancy rate. They began increasing in fourth quarter 2020 to first quarter 2021.”

Generation Z is Googling and planning more than older generations for excursions.

In 2020, the younger you were, the more likely you’d planned a holiday. In the U.S. and U.K., 70% of people say they’ll schedule a trip in 2021. Baby Boomers, among the first in the vaccination line, lead those intending to get away (13%).

Next: Millennials (12%), Generation X (10%), and Gen Z (6%.)

What are travelers concerned about?

More than half of vacation planners (57%) say the state of the COVID-19 epidemic is their No. 1 concern. Other worries include personal finances, travel facilities, transport hygiene, and vaccine access.

covid-19 related items important to travelers

What we want to do once we’ve packed our bags and shuffled off differs by age.

Gen Z craves new experiences (32%), while Millennials (23%), Gen X (25%), and Baby Boomers (32%) yearn for familiar places. Across the board, more people plan to go on the road in 2021 than in 2020.

Compared to last year, 37% of vacation planners said they’d spend more this year on travel. For high-income people, it’s 43%. Ideas are spinning for everyone — 45% of U.K. and U.S. would-be travelers are researching their trips.

Only 10% have actually made it out on a trip already. Another 18% have solid plans, but no bookings, yet. And 27% say it hasn’t even crossed their mind.

GWI studies identified four groups of the would-be traveler. They tracked how they’re researching brands and ideas for a getaway. Data shows a lot of similarity for all categories, which include:

Safety seekers: Those with the highest COVID concerns

Closer to homers: Those who will holiday nearby this year

Outdoor adventurers: Those who want to escape into nature

Freedom seekers: Those who crave a new experience

10 ways people research brands during covid-19

5 ways to help your audience feel better about booking their next trip.

Marketers need to meet travelers where they worry most — and offer ways to make them feel confident. The key is to offer flexible policies, discounts, and proof of hygiene procedures. But most importantly, you must make these messages clear in your marketing materials to help your brand stand out. Here’s what today’s travelers care about most:

1. Make it easy to rearrange or cancel trips

55% U.S., 65% U.K.

Solid plans don’t always remain so solid. A local lockdown or family illness can sidetrack a trip in a snap, so brands must provide flexibility. The ability to plan without feeling locked in will foster trust as people make plans.

2. Provide flexible booking policies

52% U.S., 69% U.K.

Night minimums and maximums and other restrictions hinder the ability to plan. Especially now, when people aren’t sure what will happen tomorrow, let alone next month.

3. Offer discounts

51% U.S., 40% U.K.

Money-saving options are popular anytime, but discounts now can tip the scales. Being able to stretch the travel dollar appeals to those who want to do things they haven’t. A discounted hotel means a great meal or other experience added to the trip.

4. Show proof of hygiene procedures

44% U.S., 39% U.K.

Campaigns that prove extra measures are in place are sure to hit well with consumers. Show them what extra is being done to ensure a sanitary environment. Touchless check-ins, cleaning seals, and sanitation stations are perfect to push.

5. Provide strong insurance policies

24% U.S., 40% U.K.

Travelers come bolstered with stimulus money and budgets for getaways untapped in 2020. But, bad things have happened everywhere. The assurance that should their plans fall through, a brand will have their back, goes a long way. It’s especially important to younger generations.

what consumers are getting travel insurance

Want more info? Get our free hospitality resource guide.

Our guide includes 200 articles and podcasts. All address concerns during “economic downturn, monetary uncertainty, or global health concerns.”

Included in the guide are 11 editions of our COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study. It outlined impacts to the state of travel and hospitality, and gave consumer insight. Further, Fuel outlined strategies for every aspect of advertising, drawing on data and past performance in the same vertical.

The Brandon Agency is ready to help your brand build contingencies for the unexpected. No matter what the market looks like, we gather data and provide insight to keep you on top of your vertical — and in position to lead the way moving forward. Contact us today to start the conversation, and let’s see what we can build together.