To say that the travel industry was hit hard by the onset of the global pandemic in 2020 is an understatement. Consumer demand all but disappeared as people around the world sheltered at home and borders were shut down. At the same time, the world transitioned most facets of life into the digital realm so that consumers could continue to work, play, socialize, and shop online. But now there are signs for optimism on the horizon. As vaccination rates increase around the world and destinations begin to welcome back travelers, more travel companies are looking ahead for how they can use advertising to supercharge their recovery plans and put themselves top of mind with postpandemic consumers.
Consumer trends are always in flux. But the pandemic marked a clear split in consumers’ travel habits. As the travel industry prepares for a post-pandemic recovery, travel advertisers will need to adapt their messaging in response to emerging shifts in customer mindsets, habits, needs, and expectations. One of the biggest messaging factors is around health and safety. Consider that many activities that were once standard elements of any travel experience have transformed into potential sources of concern. In addition, perceptions around inperson interactions, communal spaces, and physical amenities of travel that people have become accustomed to are suddenly considered risky. Although it’s safe to predict that these concerns will eventually diminish, the behavioral changes they’ve inspired seem likely to continue into the future. “Safety is important and one of the key factors to take into consideration going forward in the [travel] research process,” said Vladimir Ortiz, vice president
of e-commerce for Palace Resorts.
While the pandemic raged over the course of 2020, other global events were actively shaping the world as we know it. Crucial societal issues like social justice, gender and racial equity, sustainability, and climate change all gained attention while the world reeled from the impact of Covid. The importance of these deeply human values was thrown into sharp relief for consumers and companies alike, particularly in the realm of brand messaging. The travel industry in particular was forced to revisit its greater purpose: exposing people to new cultures and ideas, celebrating diversity, and bridging borders to bring people and their societies closer together through shared interests and experiences. Many have begun to relate to the lockdown months of the pandemic as a much-needed emotional reset. Consumers were able to pause the typical everyday pace of their bustling lives, to slow down and consider the real impact of travel on the planet, on communities, and on individual lives around the world. Even before Covid, the concept of stakeholder capitalism had been gaining steam as consumers voted with their dollars and actively sought to support businesses that aligned with their ideals and values.
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