Travel brands have been urged to accentuate the familiar and play on people’s sense of nostalgia as they look to prepare for the restart of travel post Covid-19.

A new report from international advertising agency M&C Saatchi evaluates the views of a number of travel and tourism brands including Eurotunnel, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic.

It says with a sense of optimism now returning, it is fine to start conversations with customers about booking holidays again.

But the report advises brands to stick to being helpful and practical and avoid generic, regurgitated messages of reassurance like ‘we’re in this together’ and ‘we’re here to help’.

Annabelle Cordelli, Virgin Atlantic marketing vice president, said: “We’re giving our customer the facts, explaining what’s happening really clearly and simply so we can help them navigate.

“All of our effort has been on making sure, as much as possible, that we respond to questions proactively providing the right information.”

The Preparing For Take Off report also highlights how the Covid-19 crisis has also made people shift from looking for something adventurous and unknown to familiar and safe.

M&C Saatchi says this is one reason why cross-Channel rail operator Eurotunnel has seen such a rebound in demand before the UK government decision to re-open the UK’s borders.

While this is seeing a boom on demand for UK staycations, travelling to France by car in family bubbles is also enjoying a renaissance.

“With such uncertainty and the nagging fear of a second wave, it’s hardly surprising that many brands are experiencing a shift from international to domestic travellers,” the report says.

“Whether it’s revisiting old childhood memories or discovering brand new destinations on the doorstep – there’s clearly a lot to be said for staycations and the sense of nostalgia they bring.

“Likewise, people are trading in adventure packed holidays and the thrill of the unknown for destinations that are familiar and safe, the places they’ve visited before.”

Jae Hopkins, director of sales and marketing at Eurotunnel said: “Lots of Brits as kids went to France with their parents. There is something that doesn’t feel too terrifying about France.

“It’s partly to do with the fact that if something were to go wrong, you can just jump in your car and drive back. It gives people more control.”

Preparing For Take Off says all brands must focus on what their Unique Selling Point (USP) is and be flexible in finding new ways to make up for lost revenue.

And it says brands should try to make a positive out of new health and safety protocols to avoid them being seen as a barrier to travel or treating customers like human beings.

Linda-Patrice Celestino, vice president of guest and customer experience at Etihad, said: “We don’t want PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to become a barrier, so our specially trained wellness ambassadors choose to see their gowns as enablers of better customer experience.

“They provide essential travel health information and care so guests can fly with greater peace of mind.”

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