Comment: Marketing during the cost-of-living crisis

Azerion’s Roxanne Harley reveals four priorities for travel firms aiming to capture consumer attention

The current economic situation is having a major impact on UK businesses and consumers. With inflation at a 41-year high, most sectors are feeling the effects of increased prices, a weak pound, and significant reductions in consumer spending.

Despite this, there’s one sector that appears to be defying the odds—travel.

A survey conducted by Azerion found that despite making cutbacks in other areas, many UK consumers are NOT planning to reduce spend on their holidays. A third are looking to travel the same amount as they did pre-pandemic, and more than a quarter (27%) are planning to spend more on trips abroad than they have previously—just 24% of respondents are planning on spending less on holidays this year.

Of specific interest to travel marketers is that 43% of respondents said their holiday choices were definitely influenced by advertising, and 50% said they got inspiration from the articles they read. These findings highlight a real opportunity for travel marketers to engage consumers for holidays in 2023.

So what are some of the best ways that marketers can capture consumer attention around travel? To answer that we need to look in more detail at some of the key considerations for travellers.

Deals are good but location still wins

Although value and deals are important, location and accommodation are the things that drive bookings. For 80% of Gen Z respondents, value and deals were tied with location as the most important consideration, however, for every other generation value and deals were their third most important factor.

When planning ad campaigns it’s still important to make sure that value and price are clearly displayed on creatives, with a stand-out call to action to encourage further interaction and research. Including price on creatives doesn’t have to look cheap if it’s done well.

And because marketers also need to focus on location and accommodation, it’s vital to use digital planning in bursts to drive brand awareness and recall and be able to also switch things up to ensure the strategy is demonstrating value.

Timing is everything

There’s still time to influence consumers. The survey also found that just 28% of respondents have already booked their holidays for next year, with 40% saying that they book holiday on an ad hoc basis.

With around a third of travellers booking holidays in January and February, marketers need to start to run campaigns now (December) with clear branding and messaging­.

Generating brand awareness is super important in the lead up to the main booking seasons. It gets brands ahead of their competitors and also puts them top of mind for consumers come the January/February booking window – at this point marketers can adapt creative slightly to make sure a clear ‘Book Now’ button is integrated into the ads.

Play the long-game

Gen Xers tend to book last-minute and are more likely to enjoy shorter breaks across the year. So brands should definitely consider changing their creative and ad messaging depending on target audience, and this shouldn’t just be restricted to the January and February windows.

Don’t forget mobile

It’s important to make sure campaigns target (and are optimised for) mobile. It’s surprising just how many travel marketers still don’t use mobile on their campaign plans to their full potential, or consider slightly different formats or targeting for the platform. But it’s hugely important because at least 44% will be booking holidays via their mobile.

Integrating these ideas and concepts into travel marketing will help brands ensure that they’re capitalising on a surprisingly buoyant market, and not letting an opportunity slip through their fingers.

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