Published on Thursday, September 24, 2020

How Covid-19 will change travel marketing

The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the travel industry in a number of fundamental ways.

To what degree is still relatively unclear with a long, slow recovery still ahead.

What will the recovery look like? Many aspects of the still evolving 'new normal' may be with us for ever, such as heightened health checks at borders, and expanded use of contactless tech.

Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global sees changes in how travel marketing is now being viewed by consumers and what that means for brands.    

"With infection rates on the decline once again, we are seeing intent to travel rise," Reid said in a video presentation.

"We expect a renaissance in the travel advertising industry soon. Customers have been interacting differently with travel content, compared to just a few years ago."

He expects OTAs will play an even bigger role in the travel recovery.

The likes of Expedia, and Airbnb are going to become more important than ever in this era.

"They have the marketing span, and in these types of environments, we typically see people look for aggregators."

He also expects the big tech players to have the most pervasive presence in online travel, such as Google and Alibaba, which have been ramping up their portfolio of travel products and services. In fact Google and Facebook account for 61% of total digital ad spend.

This is no surprise to travel marketers, but the entry of Amazon could shake it up. Amazon has typically shied away from travel but has been quietly testing the water in India.

"We believe travel is the next big landscape for Amazon to engage. We would not be surprised to see Amazon weigh in on the travel industry soon," Reid added.

"Amazon sells inventory at very low margins and travel suppliers would no doubt love to see Amazon enter the travel space if it results in lower distribution costs."

The current situation is also a litmus test for brand equity.

The big watchword in branding right now is empathy. This encompasses trust issues around health measures, sensitivity and flexibility, but also social justice too.

"Consumers are absolutely paying attention to social issues and inclusion, and brands have to weigh in. Brands should be thinking about social justice as a mainstay of their brand."

"People care about social and environmental issues and 'they place a premium on brands that show social purpose.'

In conclusion, a MMGY study points to a genuine 'stretch season' with pent-up demand for travel right now into the fall. Summer demand was not filled due to Covid restrictions and the data points to more people planning to take a fall trip in 2020 even compared to last year


Watch video here

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