5 Ways to Pivot your Tourism Experience for Post-COVID Traveller
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5 Ways to Pivot your Tourism Experience for Post-COVID Traveller

By Paige Rowett
Published on September 6, 2021
5 Ways To Pivot Your Tourism Experience For Post COVID Traveller

We know that the tourism industry won't look the same as it did before COVID.

What we do know though, is that demand for travel experiences will bounce back in some way, shape or form, as human connection through travel is a basic human need that most of society will want to meet.

For tourism operators, and destinations though, having an understanding of where society is at, in terms of their desire and motivations for travel, will be paramount as you design/pivot/adapt and market your experiences in the short and longer term future.

What we know about the Travel Landscape

Sentiment tells us that Australian's are Still Keen to Travel

Whilst we witnessed the almost complete shut down of the industry from March-May 2020, we saw a gradual reopening and re-emergence of a resilient industry.

And we were tracking pretty well until the delta COVID strain hit our shores, which changed the complexity of the government’s response to COVID, bringing increased uncertainty and confidence in travel interstate. This uncertainty is probably going to remain now until we have higher vaccination rates (somewhere around 70-80%).

Never-the-less, Tourism Australia remain optimistic and have earmarked 2025 as the year that the nation get’s the numbers back to pre-COVID levels in their new Corporate Plan.

Tourism Australia’s are currently conducting rolling travel sentiment surveys whilst we are going through this phase, and up to Mid June 2021, suggest that domestic travel intention continues to grow in a ‘2 steps forward, 1 step back’ kinda format, despite the state lockdowns over the past few months.

Top Line Travel Sentiment Tourism Australia June 2021

People are still not keen on international travel, and confidence in interstate trips has declined since the delta strain landed in the country, and our lockdowns have started. However, intrastate overnight trips are still on the cards which is great.

Good news is that Australians are still not intending on travelling internationally for at least another 2 years, which means there is still a great opportunity to target those people that would typically plan those experiential trips right now.

 

In addition to Tourism Australia's research, new Think with Google research confirms that Australians have travel on the brain, and are constantly thinking, dreaming, planning our next trips.

Think with Google, Travel Customer Journey in 2020

With the same study highlighting that 13% of an average traveller's time online is doing travel related activities.

So, even though we are still navigating our way out of our 'suppression strategy' with COVID, Australians are still very keen to travel.

 

 

Future Traveller Behaviour and Motivation Considerations

Now that we've been living with COVID for nearly 18 months, industry have already adapted many parts of their business models and processes to support changed expectations when it comes to travel, including social distancing and cleanliness measures, along with booking flexibility.

New data and research studies highlight that in addition to these practical changes to visitor expectations, tourism businesses need to think about their experience design and marketing to support the change in travel motivations as well as their needs in order to drive future demand.

Below we identify some of that research and also some quick wins that you may like to consider in your business.

 

Short Lead Times and Minimal Planning

With uncertainty around travel restrictions, people are planning their holidays on a whim, and instead of running the gauntlet of planning and booking holidays too far in advance.

Whilst travel sentiment is always changing depending on the waves of COVID in the country, Tourism Research Australia have identified that most people aren’t spending huge amounts of time planning their next trip.

With people increasingly planning trips in the upcoming 1-3 months, and less so in 6-12 months. This just shows that people aren’t willing to commit to booking until closer to the time, given the level of uncertainty.

Ideas to support this behaviour:

  • Write and publish 1, 2 and 3 day itineraries Take the guess work out for your Visitors by creating 'done for you' itineraries for the time poor, or whimsical traveller. Create itineraries that are based around your core experience theme, and other additional experiences that support your experience.
  • Be a trusted source of information - A One Stop Shop. Ensure you equip your booked visitors with all of the information they need for their time with you, and also how to experience the best of your destination (based on what you know about their needs).

 

People are seeking out purpose led brands

Another interesting insight is that people are really seeking out purpose-led tourism brands, as we are becoming more socially aware of our impact on the planet.

According to Booking.com, over half (53%) of global travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future, and the Booking.com expects to see a more eco-conscious mindset in 2021 and beyond, as coronavirus has amped people’s awareness of their impact on the environment and local communities.

Tourism and Events Queensland have pulled together a fantastic resource  called ‘The Ultimate Transformational Experience Guide’ which highlights the fact that sustainable tourism demand is growing across existing and future traveller segments, with 65% of future travellers expecting brands to play a more meaningful role in society.

 

65 percent of travellers expect brands to play a meaningful role

 

And, further to this, people are going beyond experience features and price, seeking purpose led brands that align with their own personal beliefs and values.

Below is a great example from Make Trax Adventure Hire of sharing the ways they are committed to sustainability.

Ideas to support this behaviour:

  • Share your Business Goals - If you have a clear social corporate responsibility plan, then share your goals with your potential visitors. This can be done through strategic posting on social media, or sharing your plan on your website.
  • Create new Purposeful Experiences Design a new experience that help your visitors/guests contribute to something 'good', just like Sydney By Kayak do with their 'Clean Up Paddles'.

 

People will seek out experiences that help them to achieve their travel motivations and challenges

People are ultimately choosing holidays that help them achieve their travel motivations and choose businesses that meet their needs or solve their challenges.

What motivates travel is completely personal, so tourism brands need to spend the time really getting to know their best visitors and help them piece together their itinerary – as they are more likely going to choose a destination that meets their needs over another that doesn't.

Ideas to support this behaviour:

  • Understanding who your best customer is can be done through a Customer Persona and Journey Mapping exercise. This activity helps you understand more about the motivations and needs of your best visitors, so you can be clear what messages you need to share on what platforms, at what time.

 

Price is no longer the brand differentiator for people planning holidays

Holidays are a premium at the moment, and so when people are looking to plan a holiday, they are really wanting something that 100% meets their motivations and needs.

So, businesses that can meet the needs of their best customers will be the winners in this space by a country mile.

As Think With Google's research shows below, if your experience doesn't meet the need of your best visitors, they will go elsewhere to get that need met, no matter the price.

Also, in real terms, we can see that 20 years ago, people were increasingly using search terms in Google Search Engine Result pages for cheap travel related search queries, compared to the last few years, where people were increasingly looking for ‘best’ travel related answers. COVID has also exacerbated this.

Ideas to support this behaviour:

  • Be really explicit on your website how you meet the motivations and needs of your best visitors. Eg. if you are wanting to attract more families, talk to the needs of the mother, and what boxes she needs to tick when it comes to selecting accommodation, or accessibility issues with regard to transport etc.
  • Use the words from your past visitors to articulate the benefits of your experience (eg. trawl through your TripAdvisor reviews, there are so many gold nuggets in there!)

 

 

 

Paige Rowett

Paige is a tourism marketing specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Paige is passionate about working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies, specialising in marketing strategy, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing, website strategy, search engine optimisation & blogging.
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