After two pandemic years, many people are now keen to travel abroad again for leisure. They want to make up for those “lost years” – a phenomenon also known as revenge travel. In a recent survey, 62% of respondents confirmed they are now more interested in exploring the world than before the pandemic.

This new appetite for travel will impact travel companies in many ways. There’s no question that, with strong bookings for the coming months and a slow recovery of business travel, leisure is going to be their most important segment in the foreseeable future. Their brand communication and their brand image need to reflect this. Attracting and retaining customers no longer works the same way as it used to before the pandemic hit.

How the travel mindset has changed

Let us now look at how exactly the mindset of leisure travelers has changed. We see three major trends:

  1. From escapism to individual experiences
    Instead of just escaping everyday life to recharge their batteries under palm trees, travelers now expect a more special, individualized experience. Every vacation needs to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, today. Therefore, it is not enough to promote the destination alone. “Come to Sunny Island – we have the best beaches” doesn’t impress anyone anymore. Brands should focus on the individual experiences they are creating for their customers – using targeted messages to reach different segments. For example, some travelers are looking to mix business and leisure trips – a phenomenon also called bleisure – whereas others prefer to switch off and completely disconnect from the world for a while. This is known as slow travel. One destination can be many different things for different travelers; and they need to focus on these individual experiences in their marketing.
  1. From hedonism to more sustainability
    Awareness of sustainable travel options has increased massively in recent years. A recent Accenture survey shows that 86% of travelers want to travel more sustainably, but only half of them manage to do so often. The good news behind these figures is that people are becoming more aware of the environmental footprint of tourism – and they are looking to change their behaviors. Instead of not going abroad, they rather try to make their trip as eco-friendly as possible. In their communication with customers, travel brands do not only need to talk about sustainability more often. They need to act and offer real solutions. We believe that in the future, every part of the travel value chain – from products to services and operations – will need to become sustainable.
  1. From Me-Moments to Social Glue
    Humans are social beings, but the pandemic made personal interactions with friends and family difficult. According to a AirBnB survey, 53% say they now feel less connected to their loved ones. Therefore, post-pandemic travel is just as much about (re)building social relationships with friends and family as it is about discovering new places and enjoying yourself. Travel brands should take note and emphasize human connections and shared experiences in interactions with customers.

A changing travel mindset requires new communication themes and messages

Changing customer behaviors lead to new opportunities for travel brands. They should now reposition themselves and focus on the “how” and “why” of travel instead of marketing the destinations only (“where”). Brands need to set the right themes and messages to stay relevant for travelers. We are going to see a whole new visual language in a brand’s communication that reflects the new travel mindset of their customers. Emotional language and imagery as well as showing a strong attitude to topics such as sustainability are now more important than ever.

One thing is for certain; the times when marketing a destination with palm tree motifs and low-cost tickets was enough are definitely over.

Related topics:

Why airlines need to update their culture

The Five Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s Traveller

Christian Winter

Senior Manager – Travel Industry Consulting

Marco Hackmann

Senior Creative Strategist

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