How The Travel Industry Can Use Print to Bounce Back After Coronavirus

How print marketing campaigns can help keep travel customers dreaming during the pandemic

airplane tickets and passport picture

It would be a tough call to single out one industry that has been hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic – but the travel sector is certainly one of them.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts a decline in international arrivals of between 58% and 80% this year, based on the first three months of 2020, which would leave the industry facing its worst crisis since records began.

This is due to widespread travel restrictions and the closure of airports and borders worldwide in response to the outbreak.

It’s unclear when travel will get back to anything like normality right now – but it’s important for travel brands to remember that it will, and to put their energies into bouncing back.

pile of books in holidays destination

Sensitive, personal marketing campaigns

You’d be hard pushed to find a marketing campaign from a travel brand right now, with travel advertising down by as much as 90% in March. The campaigns that are running emphasise safety and refunds, rather than adventure.

While you could hardly blame travel brands for playing it safe with their marketing given the uncertain outlook – not to mention the lack of revenue – what is potentially more dangerous, from a business perspective, is to do nothing at all.

Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support and service for cruise specialists Royal Caribbean International, believes that sensitive and personalised messages are key in the current climate.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, she said: “I think major advertising must be placed on pause and we all go back to the basics of true one-to-one connecting. That means calling our past clients, checking in with them, emailing, snail mail. After all, it is so rare these days to receive a card in the mail.”

Quite a few brands – not just those in the travel industry – are turning to print right now, benefitting from its personal touch and multisensory engagement.

Keep customers dreaming

With many people either locked down or at least having had their movement significantly restricted, all they can do right now is to dream about a holiday or trip abroad. Freed says it’s crucial to keep people dreaming.

She warns against brands becoming a “hermit”, with staying front of mind with customers and prospects “key to the rebuilding process”

“The stress that the world events are creating for us today will encourage people to take a break and vacation” 

Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support and Service at Royal Caribbean International

Some brands have held back on sending out their summer brochures – but Titan Travel is not one of them.

While the latest print brochure features nearly 200 tours in total, Titan are also giving their partner travel agents the ability to create their own online brochures, tailored towards their clients’ preferences. This personalized brochure can then be emailed directly to the customer as a PDF or printed out for them in store.

Managing director Andy Squirrell expressed the same sentiments as Freed, saying that he hoped the firm’s new literature will provide “some much needed joy” to customers at this difficult time.

airplane passenger reading newspaper

Final word

While you can hardly blame travel brands from reining in their marketing budgets amid the COVID-19 crisis, if they are to bounce back, once the environment allows, it’s crucial they stay front of mind with their customers.

A sensitive, personal marketing campaign – harnessing the power of print’s unique multisensory engagement – could prove to be the way forward; keeping customers dreaming, without resorting to a hard sell.

Keep reading related blog posts