How travel brands can continue to engage consumers during COVID-19


How your brand behaves today and throughout the current crisis will be remembered when the world goes back to normal.

For sure, there’s turmoil in the travel industry. With consumers not able to travel outside of their houses, leave alone to other countries, the world’s travel industry has ground to a halt. But if you want to grow your business on the other side of 2020’s Black Swan event, then keeping your customers engaged now is not just key, it is top priority.

Just imagine, millions of previous travel bookers, stuck in their homes – dreaming of their next holiday. Dreaming of holidays they can take with you… Getting your communications right today, will ensure that your brand remains front of mind when the confidence to travel returns.

This is the time to hold your nerve. This is the time that you must firmly have a view on the long term as well as the short. This is the time that your customer needs you!

The 5 stages of the travel buying journey

According to Google Think there are 5 stages to the travel buying journey. 40% of this journey is made up of dreaming and planning stages, both of which are the most crucial stages amid a time of lock down, closed borders and isolation.

Stage 1 – Dreaming

This is the time when the consumer dreams about getting away. They are not necessarily sure where they want to go and have no firm plans – but they just know they want to go somewhere! This is the time for inspiration, to add curiosity and enticement. The marketers role here is to move the consumer to the next phase to start planning…

Stage 2 – Planning

Once they have decided on a destination, the next phase is planning. The typical traveller visits up to 38 websites and searches for over 30 hours – and this takes time. According to Expedia, the planning/research phase takes place over 5 weeks before consumers finally book their holiday. Again this phase is about inspiration, excitement but on a more micro destination level, it also becomes about deals and the ease of information gathering.

Stage 3 – Booking

This is the moment travel brands are holding their breath for. This is the crunch moment. At this stage they want deals, up to date availability and pricing. The booking process needs to work across all platforms and it needs to be seamless. Consumers will often bail at the last moment, maybe to check with partners or friends/family or even to see if they can get a better deal somewhere else. Ensuring you remind them that their holiday is still there, ready to be purchased is crucial – otherwise you will surely lose them elsewhere. Amid COVID-19 travel marketers are now looking to sell holidays for 2021 before they usually would (especially if the booking terms are risk free).

Stage 4 – Experiencing

Research by Google Think suggests that 85% of leisure travellers only choose activities once they’ve arrived at their destination. This is the time to guide, inform and up-sell. You need to be on hand to suggest experiences that will make their trip one to remember.

Stage 5 – Sharing

A lot of people book holidays on recommendations from friends and family. Encouraging your customer to share their experiences through reviews will inspire others to purchase from you in the future. At this time you can encourage your past travellers to share their last holidays, write reviews on trips they have just taken and so on.

5 Brands that are nailing customer engagement right now

The Customer Success Consultants at Pure360 have chosen their favourite communications coming out of the travel industry over the last couple of weeks.

1 – Bolsover Cruise Club

Subject line: Introducing Armchair Traveller: Holiday inspiration while the world stands still

Preview Line: We can bring the world to you

Liz Brewer, Lead Customer Success Consultant, says:

“Mindful of what’s going on in the world, Bolsover Cruise Club have launched a new newsletter, ‘The Armchair Traveller’ – Shifting to more inspirational and nurturing content and away from sales – Let’s be honest – that’s what the recipients have been wanting this whole time!”


2 – Secret Escapes

Subject line: Postcards from the beach

Preview line: You’ve got mail

Katie Noonan, Senior Customer Success Consultant, says:

“Secret Escapes have adapted very quickly to the changing situation and have just launched their new weekly email ‘Postcards from our Travels’. Aware that they need to keep their recipients engaged through this period where travel is off the cards – they seek to inspire them to read and learn about destinations to add to their wish-list.

They also set expectations of future emails, encouraging readers to keep an eye out in their inboxes: ‘Each week we’ll be sending your postcards from some of our favourite destinations…’  ‘Today we’re bring the beach to you’”


3 – Ski Club of Great Britain

Subject line: Bringing the mountains to your home

Jack Clay, Principal Solutions Consultant, says:

“Ski Club of Great Britain have vowed to play their part in keeping their customers entertained, launching their own quiz, a ski workout, and advising customers on their favourite snowsport films!

They’ve also recognised and acted on one of their customers’ key needs right now – having a sense of community. They encourage their readers to challenge their friends in the quiz , and to join them on ‘Ski Club Socials’ to stay in the loop – both of which will grow their audience and help to build loyalty.”


4 – Suitcase Magazine

Subject line: Let’s Couch-Surf

Preview line: Some weekly respite from C who shall not be named

Laura James, Customer Success Consultant, says:

“Suitcase are adding a new email to their collection,  providing a breath of fresh air for recipients very much tired with emails advising on safety and operational procedures.

Pulling out the most inspirational travel stories from their archives they remind readers that there is so much to be inspired by!”


5 –

Subject line: Breathtaking destinations for your bucket list

Preview line: Discover amazing places with us

Mark Wiglesworth, Customer Success Executive, says: 

“Aware that readers have a lot more time on their hands, and now more than ever are thinking about where they will travel to once this has all passed, have shifted to providing more nurturing and informational content, inspiring readers and encouraging them to add destinations to their bucket list.”



Want more inspiration on how to engage with consumers when purchasing might be the last thing on their minds? You can learn a lot from these retail brands in this article by Pure360.

Meet the author

Komal Helyer

VP Marketing

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