The economic impact of COVID-19 affected all travel sectors across the globe, from airlines and hotels to leisure attractions and online travel agents. As a result, global tourism revenue fell a massive 42.1%, from $685 billion in 2019 to $396 billion in 2020.
There’s not a definite and clear end in sight, either, as experts do not expect a return to 2019’s pre-COVID figures until at least 2023.
While it’s still uncertain when travelers will start packing their suitcases in full force again, we can say for sure that they will. History proves the travel industry is a resilient powerhouse that bounces back quickly. A temporary halt in global travel means there’s pent-up demand for post-pandemic travel that continues to grow.
Travelers are already eyeing up the best deals for their favorite destinations and planning to make up for lost travel time when they feel completely safe getting on planes and trains once again. The growing consumer desire means plenty of returning opportunities for the travel industry to bounce back from the pandemic losses.
It’s time to make any necessary changes and start preparing for the upcoming influx of travel bookings. A travel company’s successful recovery from the pandemic downtime will rely on them making the most of the pent-up demand.
So how can travel companies keep customers satisfied and increase their capacity once again? What should they focus on to maximize the chances of success post-pandemic?
It’s Time to Make Any Necessary Commercial Changes
Making commercial changes to your company policies is a necessary step in recovery. It’s time to adapt and anticipate the demand by finding your own ways of proactively responding to COVID-19 protocols. To do so, you must look outward to industry-wide developments.
Although the government is updating safety regulations as the pandemic continues to play out, it’s down to key players in the travel industry to keep up with new protocols and respond by setting new standards. Working together as a whole industry to adapt and improve internal operations will streamline the recovery process as travel companies face other unavoidable changes.
So what can travel companies do to master their operations during pandemic travel? How can they make the most of pent-up demand for post-pandemic travel?
What Can and Should All Travel Brands Do?
#1 Prioritize Health and Safety Measures
With the public health impacts of COVID-19 still going on, health and safety come first. However, key travel industry players have a responsibility. Remember that your consumers are consciously and actively concerned about how they can travel safely, too, so do your best to relieve their pandemic-related anxieties.
With consumers expecting a high standard of health and safety practices, it’s necessary to meet or exceed expectations and dispel concerns from hesitant travelers. One of the best, simplest changes you can make is to invest in digital operations and contactless technologies.
More and more travelers are using their mobile devices throughout their travel journey, for example, when making payments or showing tickets, boarding passes, or IDs. You should start bringing digital technologies to the forefront wherever and whenever possible to meet this need, such as digital check-in processes, keyless hotel room entry, etc.
It’s also worth highlighting these new health and safety practices, policies, and procedures in the brand messages you deliver. Millions of concerned travelers will want that peace of mind.
#2 Target Customers with Marketing Messages
Bouncing back with the resurgence of travel requires knowing what your customers are thinking and how they are feeling. Consumer attitudes toward travel will likely stay mixed even once the dust has settled, so it’s important you target the customers who are receptive to travel and actively considering an upcoming trip.
Contextual marketing is a must for sparking interest in the customers who are genuinely engaged with the travel industry. It’s all about processing the right messages at the right time with the right individuals. Make sure you understand your end-to-end customer journey to know exactly what they need and want from your services.
#3 Keep an Eye on Competitors
Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will come in waves for the travel industry. While some countries open their borders, others will stay closed. Domestic travel will recover faster than international travel. With differing and unpredictable recovery timelines, all types of travel companies will benefit from keeping an eye on the competitive landscape.
Source every insight you can to stay ahead of your fellow travel brands and gain your share of the market. Post-pandemic travel will be a whole other ball game, so analyze consumer behavior and identify the prospects you will benefit most from. Once you’ve got the know-how, you can start creating your marketing strategy and offering the right services and products.
#4 Optimize How Customers Can Contact You
Travelers value the brands that offer reliability, trust, and confidence, now more than ever, when travel hiccups are more likely and nothing seems certain. So in this current climate of travel uncertainties, one of the best ways brands can gain consumer trust is to improve communication and optimize their contact center. It’s important that customers have a positive experience when trying to find the answers they need.
Having various customer touchpoints across multiple channels will help, whether that’s emailing, automated digital chatbots, or a 24/7 call center. Be super contactable and easily reachable with quick and productive responses on hand. Top-quality customer service is all about being accessible and demonstrating empathy with paying travelers who may need reassurance.
Get in Touch with TransPerfect
Supporting your customers wherever and however they travel is the most important responsibility of any travel brand. This is especially true when pandemic travel uncertainties have dampened the experiences of millions of global travelers.
Efficient global communication is the first line of defense. TransPerfect can play a part in improving your customer communication with our customized travel and hospitality solutions. We want to help you secure your place in the market once the pent-up demand booms and travelers start gaining the confidence to finally start booking again. Whether it’s with language services, global brand management or content creation, we can help you cater to a global audience.
We have a global network of over 10,000 native-speaking linguists covering 170+ languages. Our tailor-made solutions help multinational brands quickly, efficiently, and successfully reach new markets.
If you'd like to discuss how TransPerfect can support your post-pandemic travel business plans, please get in touch.