Uncertainty over travel’s restart shouldn’t stop firms laying the groundwork online, says Accord Marketing chief client officer Maria Payne

Traffic lights, green watchlists, PCR testing, locator forms and still no official return date. Feeling a little in the dark about the latest report from the Global Travel Taskforce? We’re not surprised. Ever since its release on April 9, there’s been a lot of frustration bubbling in the industry over the lack of clarity and clear direction for international travel resuming in the summer.

But that’s not to say we can’t start moving this spring.

Rather than focusing on everything we don’t know, we can start preparing for that moment for when we do. Our loyal customers are information seekers right now, which means travel brands can use this time to inform, empathise and continue to inspire.

Pent-up demand is at its boiling point, so let’s give consumers reassurance that it’s all going to be worth it in the end. How do you do that? By making all the right moves online.

Websites can be a hub of knowledge at the moment, and social media can be a place to creatively deliver unanswered questions and target those travellers who are already building their green list destination dreams.

With a glass half full, we’ve tasked our digital in-house experts to take miles out of the inches the taskforce has given us and offer some forward-thinking advice. From SEO and paid social, to PPC and website UX, they’ve shared their takeaways from the recently announced traffic light system so we can prepare to get back on the road as soon as we have a green light.

Website

  • Optimise landing pages for green list search terms
  • Have a central Covid update page to reference travel taskforce plans, including links to government advice
  • Make a primary banner in the header, linking to a Covid update page
  • Consider incoming updates on traffic light status by preparing dynamic search filters and product drivers

SEO

  • Update hub content for featured snippets, answering key green list questions: ‘when can I travel to X?’
  • Write blog content around what the updates mean for customers
  • Building infographics to show what the three colours mean
  • Incentivise travellers with discounts covering PCR testing and run offers as viral PR

Paid Social

  • Keep inspiring with carousel ads advocating low-risk destinations
  • Use interest targeting based on ad destinations
  • Create instant experience ads to demonstrate Covid protocols and destinations available

PPC

  • Run smart bidding to ensure competitive bidding on green destinations
  • Include ‘green list’ and ‘green light destinations’ keyword derivatives to trigger ads

Travel Taskforce Takeaways

As you can see, there are things that we can do to plan for the currently unplannable. This sort of activity will be worth it when we have more transparency and brighter green lights for people to go ahead and book their long-awaited overseas holidays. With more information comes more opportunity. In time, we’re sure that search will play a larger role, especially when we have a clearer idea of which destinations belong to which colours, as will the dynamic filter options on your website.

Above everything, we should keep reminding ourselves that people just really, really want to go away. As we saw in 2020, consumers are prepared to move quickly when the gates open, so brands need to be ready to flick the switch. With over a year of constantly adapting to changing regulations, we’ve all become pretty adept to last-minute planning and booking.

It might feel like the industry is reaching the end of its tether, but nothing takes away from people’s desire to escape. Whether this opportunity lands May 17 or later, it’s going to be eyes on the prize (and the road) until we get there.