Comment: Travel brands must fine-tune marketing to overcome cost-of-living concerns

Customers are more considered with their spending but demand is still there, says Pinterest head of travel Ash Rajawat

With rising inflation causing prices to increase across major aspects of life, consumers are having to make more considered choices about their daily spending. This rings true when it comes to travel – a perceived luxury for many – with one in three holidaymakers cutting back on holiday spending, according to Abta’s 2022 Holiday Trends report.

Against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, we’ve seen Pinners (that is, Pinterest users) are increasingly seeking ways to make their finances go further, with searches for ‘budget planners’ up 105% since March. However, at the same time, searches for ‘dream holiday’ have jumped by 150% on Pinterest (August v March) and research carried out by Ipsos Mori in June discovered that 71% of Europeans still intended to travel.

Our data indicates that, while travel still remains a priority for consumers, it is undergoing a more thorough decision-making process. Holiday money is still being saved up, but it is for those special trips with escapism at their heart.

In fact, despite a difficult few months for the airline industry with strikes, delays and even local heatwaves making Margate feel like Mauritius, travel to and from the UK came close to pre-pandemic levels. Although there is a sense of delayed gratification, people haven’t stopped travelling in 2022, and travel brands have been racing to quench this thirst for holidays.

So with demand for holidays continuing to be high and increasing financial pressures set to continue across 2022 and beyond, brands still need to show up and actually bolster their presence, especially when consumers actually need their help more than ever to find what they are both looking for and are willing to spend money on. As people are being more considerate with their spending, it’s important to take potential customers on an unforgettable journey before they’ve even set foot in the departure lounge.

We have seen brands manage to cut through the noise, reacting to consumers’ adjusted lifestyle due to the rising cost-of-living, while communicating their core values. Tui’s recent ‘Next Summer Sorted’ campaign, for example, allows holidaymakers to lock in holidays ahead of further inflated prices, without the worry of putting down a deposit.

Marketing can be a key way brands can build affinity and increase feelings of much-needed trust and reliability, while also providing the sense of escape – a key desire for holiday makers.

That might mean re-focusing digital campaigns, with more research and bookings being made online, whether that’s allowing users to explore a cabin via AR, an interactive ad which finds the best room for traveller’s needs, or simply a change in direction of social content, honing in on the top-tier service staff can provide to those mid-journey. In the current landscape, these processes have become more useful than ever to help consumer buy-in, as they’re exploring every angle before committing to a holiday.

Strategies informed by data, which reflects consumer wants, can also help ensure success irrelevant of the season.

But with the travel industry still recovering from two years of being halted to a standstill, it’s important the journey that consumers are taken on ends in a direct business result. Embracing social commerce tools will help create a clear path for travellers to turn their inspiration and careful plans into action – helping brands to reach commercial objectives, while also keeping customers focused on their offering without the noise of other options.

The latest reports point towards travel demand continuing on a strong trajectory, but consumers are increasingly considerate with their spending, so it’s important for brands to provide inspiration and respond accordingly to traveller needs in a time of great change.

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