It’s difficult to start any piece about the hospitality sector post-pandemic without resorting to clichés about ‘unprecedented disruption’ and the ‘seismic change’ that brought with it.
But there was, and it has.
Eighteen months of (still changing) restrictions have taken the control out of the holidaymaker’s hands. Consumer attitudes to holidays and travel have since shifted away from the blasé, perhaps driven in the past by packages, extras, and discounts, or luxury, uniqueness, and self-indulgence.
Importantly, one of the most crucial shifts has been where holidaymakers are choosing to stay, and how they make those decisions. Indeed, Tealium’s new research into attitudes towards travel during the ongoing pandemic, identified health and safety as primary influences on a decision.
Late booking cancellations due to Covid were high across the board, as customers want to enjoy the opportunity to get away, but don’t want to be held hostage to (mis)fortune. Easily-found information about health and sanitization procedures were tops across Europe also – an element of holiday travel previously taken for granted and perhaps rarely checked when booking.
But there’s huge cause for industry optimism too. Emotions are running high, but it applies both to the nervous side, and the excited. We see those who are booking with gusto and trying new experiences, and those who are sticking to what they know and staying safe as they edge toward getting away.
This real-time change must be central to the travel and hospitality sector’s strategies as we near 2022, and customers start to look forward to booking with new-found optimism. The customer must be understood today, not with legacy data from 2019 – they’re fundamentally different individuals.
However, older insights can act as a benchmark to understand how individuals have changed, so it’d be foolish to discount these entirely. Are customers who always booked abroad now looking local-only? They’re nervous. Are those who booked locally now looking to foreign climes? They’re excited.
Equally, their budgets are very likely to have changed – for better, or for worse – and taking a temperature check here can show how the 2021 version of the customer is getting on. Once understood, brands can tailor approaches accordingly without missing the mark.
Yes, the pandemic was unprecedented. Yes, it disrupted everything. But doors and borders are opening up and the customer is looking to get away again – albeit under different circumstances than before.
The keyword in all of this is ‘changing’. And for the hospitality sector, understanding this change – and being agile enough to respond to it – is pivotal to success. Understanding your customer has never been more important, especially in an industry that’s looking to get back on its feet.
To understand how data can develop this single, 360-degree viewpoint of the customer to take advantage of new opportunities, download our ‘Present and Future of Travel Marketing’ whitepaper.