Today the mental image of a relaxing getaway is nothing like it was before. As we head into the winter months, we’re unlikely to be enticed by a commercial for a resort boasting a lively beachfront bar or an ad for a crowded ski resort. What’s more, actually capturing that content under today’s COVID restrictions would prove nearly impossible. What, then, can travel CMOs do to overcome production challenges and pivot their messaging in ways that appeal to cautious consumers starved for a weekend getaway?
Travel marketing and production teams are going to have to veer off the beaten track and embrace creative ways to capture and communicate their message during COVID. Here are my three tips on how to make that happen:
Change your messaging
Everything in travel marketing today must have a lens of adventure while also delivering on all the precautions necessary to minimize COVID risk. Destination commercials that fail to communicate the fact that travelers will be safe will fall flat. Showing a world where nothing has changed can be misleading and a big turnoff for consumers concerned about their safety.
Travel CMOs must rethink their audience and tweak their message accordingly. They may not be able to attract consumers that live a three-hour flight away, but they may be just what local or regional travelers had in mind for quick getaway or even a staycation.
Create snackable content
The effects of COVID on the travel industry are wide-ranging: Budgets are stretched, out-of-state travel quarantines pop up overnight and bookings are down. Now is hardly the time for a multi-million dollar campaign and over-the-top content creation. Instead, travel CMOs should be focused on how to create snackable, scaleable content with high production value at a reasonable cost. Anything they create should be easily tailored to the local level.
Whether it’s leveraging new animation, maximizing UGC, leaning into social, designing new assets or extracting every last drop of content out of new campaigns, travel CMOs must change their approach to content – and find a partner that understands how to do that.
Change your production
Just as eager travelers can’t retreat to crowded beaches or hit the busy streets of a bustling city, production can’t exactly take a “business as usual” approach. It’s difficult to safely film in popular marketing settings like planes, hotel rooms or sexy bars, but there are still ways to proceed with production, such utilizing properties that are getting ready to launch and haven’t yet been open to the public. Going forward, production will need to be carefully mapped out ahead of time. Crews will need to get smaller and filming must be isolated to safe cities and safe destinations.
The bottom line
Although it feels like all things travel have been disrupted by COVID, travel CMOs must still find creative ways to maintain their relationship with consumers. They can do this with messaging that isn’t tone-deaf to the challenges travelers face, content that doesn’t drain their budgets and smarter production that doesn’t put crews at risk.