5 Travel Trends for 2022 Multiple lockdowns and unpredictable restrictions resulted in global travel seeing a significant drop in 2020. But while slow, recovery is happening. Global tourism experienced a 4% uplift in 2021 compared to 2020. And 58% of experts expect a travel rebound in 2022, especially in the third quarter. Image Source – Unwto Travel businesses and brands have been some of the hardest hit over the past two years. And such a changeable industry can be difficult to plan for. But despite the many challenges that the travel industry has faced, there are some hopeful and exciting trends appearing in 2022. To help businesses in this industry plan for an unpredictable future and keep their audience as engaged as possible, this guide will introduce 5 of our favourite travel trends for 2022. For the travel industry, better starts here. Local and independent travel One (dare we say) positive to come out of the pandemic is that it encouraged travellers to take a pause and look around them at the beautiful destinations that lie in their local vicinity. With lockdown and travel restrictions being enforced, then relaxed, and then enforced again, many travellers were either forced, or decided to play it safe, and explore destinations closer to home. Making the term ‘staycation’ a popular one over the past two years. And whilst long haul trips are making a comeback, many travellers have been seduced by the ease and affordability of exploring their own country. Making local travel a norm as we enter 2022. For many, this means booking with smaller, independent brands and businesses that may not have the vast budget of travel giants such as Virgin, Hilton, and Expedia. Fortunately, there are some tricks that can help these businesses get the most out of their marketing efforts. Automation Marketing automation is key to saving time, money, and resource. Perfect for smaller and independent businesses without a sizeable budget. Automation can be used via many different marketing channels, with email and website being some of the most successful throughout the buying cycle, from brand awareness through to post-purchase. For instance, automated emails can be used to welcome recipients as soon as they sign up, send them relevant communications based on their browsing history, or notify them of post-booking information. Brand awareness For smaller brands, getting their name out in the industry should be one of their first priorities. Fortunately, this is a goal that automation can support. Brand awareness is all about consistency, and with the use of email automation technology businesses and brands can implement welcome and nurturing series that guides potential customers through all the elements of their brand. From who they are, what they stand for, what they offer, engaging content, and benefits of booking with them. By regularly appearing in inboxes with a consistent message, travellers will quickly become familiar and engaged with the brand. Ready to include them in their booking research. Geotargeting For businesses small or large looking to engage a local audience, geotargeting is essential. Geotargeting refers to using location data to communicate with consumers, showcasing them the most relevant information and communications based on where they are in the world. For travel brands, this could mean using location data to send promotions and offers for accommodation in their near vicinity. Or even using this data alongside dynamic content to ensure their website homepage promotes local destinations to each individual visitor. Higher expectations Consumer needs and wants have drastically evolved over the past year. With many brands throughout multiple industries focusing on their online offering, consumers are used to immediacy. Being able to view, engage, purchase, and book without having to leave their living room. Furthermore, the concerns we have all been surrounded by mean that travellers expect flexible booking and sanitary measures as an absolute necessity. Even more so than low prices. So how can brands ensure they are both promoting their benefits and meeting traveller expectations? Communication Key to keeping travellers’ expectations met is great communication. And when there’s a lot of money and excitement riding on a trip, brands need to ensure that their customers are kept up to date at every step of the way. For travel brands, this includes booking confirmations via email and SMS with all key details such as travel dates, timings, and contact details. Updates and reminders as the trip gets closer. Upsell and cross-sell opportunities such as room upgrades or booking a taxi. And of course, clear communication if there is any deviation from the plan. Personalisation This information can also be communicated with the use of personalisation and dynamic content, both via email and on websites. With the use of dynamic content blocks, marketers can pull personalised booking details into the emails they send and on landing pages too. So, if marketers send a promotional travel email, they can include the recipient’s personal booking details at the top. Or, if they visit the website, marketers can pull through relevant imagery and information based on the location they will be travelling to. Customers need extra reassurance Travellers may expect more from their experiences, but it doesn’t mean they are filled with confidence. Many have been stung by last-minute lockdown limitations, cancelled flights, lost refunds, or poor sanitary measures. And when there are hundreds or even thousands of pounds being spent on these trips, travellers are reluctant to go through similar disappointment and financial loss again. Reassurance is key to ensuring travellers feel comfortable enough to book with a travel brand. Post-booking sequences Useful post-booking email sequences are essential to reassuring travellers. Without relevant communication, consumers can often feel lost in the lead up to their trip, increasing their anxiety over everything running smoothly. Post booking sequences should drip feed the recipient all the relevant information they require for their trip. As and when they are most likely to need it. This should begin with purchase confirmations, move on to relevant area information and guides, up-sell and cross-sell additional services, and finish with trip reminders to ensure the customer has everything in order. These sequences reassure the recipient everything is in hand as well as helping them to prepare and plan for their trip. Social proof Social proof refers to reviews, ratings, testimonials, and user-generated content (UGC) that positively promotes a brand. And with 83% of consumers trusting recommendations from peers over advertising, social proof is a powerful tool for offering reassurance. To promote your social proof, ensure it is included throughout your website and within all of your email communications. This could include peppering reviews and ratings in your marketing, featuring case studies and user stories, and even utilising influencer marketing in your campaigns. Customised trips Travellers have been restricted in the trips they can take for quite a while. And for many, this means that when they can get away, it’s going to be a blowout. They want their trips to be perfectly customised to their wants and need. At every stage. Custom travel allows consumers to account for all eventualities, something of great importance around the pandemic, but also ensures that they are getting the most for their money. But this customisation isn’t only relevant during the trip, it is important pre and post-travel too. Here are some ways that marketers can emulate that VIP experience through their channels. Personalisation When it comes to customisation, personalisation is essential. It shows that a brand understands the individual recipient, emulates a one-to-one conversation, and makes them feel special. It also ensures that any time and resource spent sending promotions is well utilised, as all communications are highly tailored to what the individual wants. Personalisation can be utilised in so many ways within marketing. Particularly through channels that are data-led, such as email and websites. Brands can start simply by segmenting their audience based on demographic and behavioural data. Sending out email campaigns that are tailored to each specific segment. But with the use of data and automation technology, brands can get even more sophisticated. Recommendations Browse, purchase, and booking data can all be utilised to promote travel recommendations that are highly personalised to the individual. Brands can utilise this information to identify the types of countries, trips, accommodation, and activities that individuals are most interested in. Tailoring their email communications accordingly. This can be extended to upsell and cross-sell promotions too. Using automation technology, brands can recommend upgrade promotions at the point of purchase, or contact recipients post-purchase to promote add-ons, such as taxi booking, spa treatments, or food and drink. Dynamic content With the use of dynamic content, brands can get really sophisticated with their personalisation. Dynamic content blocks can be added to emails and website landing pages, and utilise individuals’ data to pull through the most relevant information, images, and links. For instance, if a customer has recently booked a skiing trip, dynamic content blocks can identify this individual and pull through skiing imagery on their emails and landing pages. Dynamic content is also essential for personalised recommendations, notifications, and promotions. Enabling marketers to automate emails in the background with the knowledge that each will be personalised to the individual recipient. Instead of having to manually send out personalised communications, which would be near impossible at scale. Virtual tourism Despite travel options opening up for many excited consumers, there is still the ongoing risk of travel complications which is making many practice caution when it comes to booking trips. Virtual experiences are predicted to fill a gap left by the inability to travel and explore as freely as we once could. But what is virtual tourism, exactly? In a nutshell, it’s a way to explore attractions, destinations, accommodation, and venues without physically visiting them. Virtual tourism can generate an immersive experience through technology, whether that be a 360-degree photo, a guided online tour, virtual reality, or augmented reality. And virtual tourism isn’t only handy for those travellers who feel stuck at home. It’s also becoming increasingly essential for those who are planning a trip and want a better feel for destinations and experiences. Lots of brands are getting involved, for instance, virtual tours are now supported by a wide variety of platforms, such as Amazon Explore, Airbnb Experiences, YouTube, and TikTok. And destinations such as The British Museum, The Great Wall of China, and The Glacier National Park also provide fantastic virtual offerings. You can even delve into travel-remotely to take a virtual wander through cities such as Delhi, Tokyo, and Las Vegas. But how can these experiences be embedded into and benefit regular marketing? Imagery and video Brands don’t have to start out with creating virtual experiences and video walkthroughs. Instead, they can begin mirroring the theme of virtual experiences throughout all marketing channels through visuals. Landing pages and emails which incorporate striking and in-depth photography of destinations is a great place to start. Instead of simply offering one or two snaps, utilise the beauty of a destination by offering photos that show recipients all areas of a destination. For instance, if a brand is promoting a hotel, include multiple images of the bedrooms, bathrooms, dining areas, bars, grounds – leave no stone unturned. And if you have the budget or resources, incorporating simple videos into email and landing pages is perfect for giving recipients a better feel for a destination, and encouraging them to investigate further. Nurturing sequences One of the powerful benefits of virtual experiences is that it engages a wide range of consumers, who can then be nurtured through email for future bookings. Virtual experiences may be taking the place of real-life for the time being, but travellers are gaining increased confidence in making bookings. This means these virtual explorers can be tempted by promotions for the real thing. For instance, if a customer has viewed a virtual event at the British Museum, marketers can then re-target them with promotions for real-life events at the same destination. Targeting As well as offering an opportunity to promote real-life experiences, virtual tourism is a great source of data capture. Virtual tourism is more accessible and budget-friendly than real trips. This means consumers have the opportunity to attend more events and experiences that they are interested in. This is a useful source of data for marketers who can gain a fuller understanding of each of their customers. Such as the types of experiences they are interested in or the destinations they would like to visit. This data can be fed throughout all marketing channels and communications. And with the help of the before-mentioned dynamic content, emails and landing pages can utilise this data to create highly personalised, individual experiences for better engagement. Are you a travel brand planning for 2022? We appreciate that the above trends can be overwhelming for brands that have been struggling over the past two years. However, with the use of the right technology and advice, travel brands can begin implementing changes to their marketing that helps them to keep up with the competition, engage with their consumers, and increase their bookings. Get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.