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Post-pandemic travel: seven new customer segments for marketers

The travel industry’s survivors and winners post-Covid will be the businesses that understand their new behavioural segments and plan their strategy accordingly. Beth Tait, Managing Director at Go Inspire Insight, explains.

Faced with a resurgence of Covid-19 cases, the travel industry is understandably preoccupied with short-term concerns around latest travel restrictions and business support schemes. But even amidst renewed uncertainty, the industry must still plan for the new post-pandemic normal. To do this, it is critical to understand the changes in customer behaviour taking place through the pandemic, and to monitor which emerging tastes and habits are likely to become permanent.

To help travel businesses understand their new normal, Go Inspire analysed the behaviour of five million customers across the UK. The study identified seven new customer segments that illustrate pandemic behaviours and can help businesses design their own strategies and practical itineraries to navigate the new normal.

The segments to watch
Currently, the most reassuring segment for the travel business are the Habitual Holidaymakers. Unconcerned about safety or budget, they are still spending on holidays and travel, though perhaps considering new destinations. Previous strategies and incentives are likely to remain successful, but could perhaps be enhanced to retain this cluster’s business.

Less reassuring are the Newly Nervous. These existing customers are still spending, but at a reduced level. They may be worried about long haul trips and flying, and looking at switching to domestic or short haul destinations. Unless they are incentivised and given confidence to return to previous spending patterns and travel behaviours, their spend may drop.

Another cluster causing concern to businesses are the new Summer Sabbaticals – those customers who have simply stopped spending. Since this segment could account for up to 50% of revenue, there’s a need to stay supportive and re-interest them in ‘safer’ trips.

In contrast, the Temporary Tourists segment has less long-term business potential. They’re one-hit wonders who may provide welcome revenue in 2020 but offer low retention prospects. It is important that businesses avoid investing too much time or effort on them, especially if this distracts from campaigns for other segments. More rewarding may be the New Five-Star Friends who have relatively high spend and could be converted from chance visitors into longer-prospects – perhaps with loyalty programmes and/or ongoing communications and incentivisation.

Another segment showing up clearly in the Go Inspire study were the Expected Excursionists – new customers showing expected pre-pandemic behaviours, who could be nurtured with traditional customer retention approaches. And finally, we have another ‘pre-pandemic’ group – the Reunionists, reactivated customers who had lapsed but returned to a trusted holiday experience in the face of lockdown uncertainty. Rewards and incentivisation could win their renewed loyalty beyond the pandemic.

What next?
For any business looking to navigate the coming months, these seven new segments provide valuable pointers for planning forthcoming CRM activity. We would recommend a bespoke analysis of their own customer base to gauge how it has changed during the pandemic, and underpin their strategy and nurture plan for each segment identified.

Importantly, that analysis should not a one-off. It’s now clear that the pandemic will continue to evolve over the coming months, and so too will countries’ and customers’ response to it. As a result, 2020’s Habitual Holidaymaker could be 2021’s Newly Nervous or Summer Sabbatical. Segments and strategies should be reviewed regularly to monitor developments, and analysis and agility will be core to survival.

Go Inspire Insight’s full report – Voyage of Discovery, The Post-Pandemic Travel Profiling Study:
Towards a new segmentation for travel marketers is available to download here.

Managing Director - Go Inspire Insight

Beth Tait, Managing Director of Go Inspire Insight, part of Go Inspire Group Beth is a marketing, sales and commercial professional with a demonstrable track record of building high-performing marketing and business strategies to maximise marketing ROI and drive growth in complex, regulated markets. She is a highly adaptable professional with leadership experience within small privately owned business, as well as private equity, AIM and FTSE-listed corporates. At Go Inspire Insight, she leads a team of passionate, experienced, expert marketers and commercially focused data scientists. The team’s strategic partnership approach drives better customer acquisition, customer loyalty and greater spend per customer, delivering sustainable and profitable growth for clients.