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Meet the Travelers of Today: How Travel Brands Can Effectively Engage New Consumer Personas

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic grounded much of the travel industry.

As many can relate, these past 18+ months have taken a toll. While stay-at-home orders put vacations on hold, rescheduled weddings, and prevented in-person connection with loved ones, it also led to an increased desire in many people to travel the minute they feel safe to do so. According to GlobalWebIndex, seven out of ten people have planned a vacation in 2021, and Google recently revealed that global searches for “where to travel” and “can I travel” are near all-time highs.

Now, as borders reopen and global vaccine efforts continue to restore travel confidence, customers are getting ready to turn their pent-up travel desires into actual bookings. But travel will look much different than it did in pre-pandemic eras. Moving forward, it’s not just about negative COVID tests, vaccination cards, and habitual handwashing. Customers now have shifting needs, priorities, and expectations for better digital marketing experiences – and right now, only 9% of travel marketers believe their business is completely prepared for this next phase of travel. 

For travel brands, a critical aspect of creating an impactful post-pandemic digital marketing strategy is gauging new types of travelers and how to motivate them effectively. To help, here are the top emerging traveler personas that should be on every travel brand’s radar, along with personalization hacks on how marketers can successfully engage each new type of customer across digital channels. 

Let’s Get Acquainted

Travel is once again picking up momentum, and travel brands can build a successful marketing strategy to match by first better understanding all the new customer personas out there. However, marketers aren't mind-readers, so to create personalized, relevant content for each traveler's persona, they'll need to hear directly from their customers. To help figure out new audiences, travel brands can utilize progressive profiling across email and mobile campaigns to gather more zero-party data to understand the traveler’s new profiles. Later down the line, marketers can use this newfound data to create more targeted campaigns that reflect the traveler's unique priorities and expectations. 

Reconnect with Family and Friends

A focus on people, not places, will be a big theme for travel brands when creating thoughtful marketing campaigns this 2021 holiday season and into 2022. After the pandemic's elongated travel restrictions and ambiguity around safety, research by Phocuswire shows that 35% of travelers say the main reason they're booking travel is to reconnect with family and friends. Travel brands can help inspire travelers to make up for lost time with loved ones by creating marketing campaigns that celebrate personal connection and community rather than traditional tourism marketing. 

Personalization idea: Based on zero- and first-party data, travel brands can serve up domestic airfare deals based on a traveler’s repeat-purchase history or preferred destinations on file. 


Because global travel restrictions are still in place for some areas, many travelers are still cautious about the future. For brands looking to convince these travelers to get back out there, seeing is believing. Currently, 15% of people say they’ll start traveling after seeing the success of others. 

Personalization idea: Travel brands can start utilizing social proof strategies such as social feeds or click-counts to show how many people purchase travel deals in marketing campaigns.

Bucketlisters and Revenge Spenders

On the flip side, people are excited to travel and prepared to make it a priority as soon as they can. As a result of the pandemic, 66% of Americans have been inspired to create a bucket list. These travelers feel like they have no more time to waste and are looking to hit the ground running with memorable vacations and passport stamps. In fact, these travelers are now willing to spend even more than before due to the phenomenon of “revenge spending,” or a willingness to pay more towards travel experiences, especially after being unable to travel for long periods. Currently, 37% of eager travelers are willing to pay more for luxury experiences, giving travel brands an open opportunity to market premium experiences and upgrades to this audience.

Personalization idea: Including polls across email and mobile can be a powerful tactic in understanding each traveler’s bucket list. By collecting this data, travel brands can then personalize messaging later down the funnel along with add-ons such as upgrades and exclusive experiences to entice travelers to convert.

Deal Seekers

However, not everyone is interested in “revenge spending.” Some travelers will want to vacation on a budget after the pandemic’s economic instability caused many consumers to curb their spending habits. Phocuswire’s research suggests that 29% of eager travelers will book through travel sites such as  Kayak and Travelocity when they want to get the best deals, looking for a solution that scratches their travel itch while going easy on their wallets. 

Personalization idea: ​​Time-sensitive promotions will play a huge role in getting these travelers to convert for deal-seekers. Utilizing time-targeted messaging that alerts the traveler when the deal is running out of time or availability can be a powerful way to drive urgency and grab attention.


One silver lining that may have come from the pandemic is new work from home flexibility, empowering more travelers to take their work on the road with them. With 74% of Americans now working from home and considering more “workcations,” these digital nomads are ready to travel as long as there’s a wifi connection. 

Personalization idea: Extending vacation stays will be a popular trend among travelers whose work is remote, and it will be important to highlight bundles that may allow for longer trips or multi-leg deals. Don’t forget about personalizing post-booking ancillary sales. Customize and personalize the highlighted features based on length of stay, making sure those workcationing can purchase the best level of wifi, meals, beverages, and more.   

Travel is a beloved commodity and something consumers actively want to get back to. As the industry continues to get back on its feet, new personal elements and work flexibilities are now driving its revival. By catering to new travel personas, brands can create cohesive, personalized messages across email and mobile that differentiate them from the competition. 

For more information on understanding today’s travel personas, download Movable Ink’s eBook Travel and Hospitality Trends 2021 here.

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