Travel Communications in the Age of Coronavirus

Effective critical communications start at the top, with senior leaders using email marketing as a means to share news about COVID-19, what they are doing to help, and also what consumers can do to stay safe and help others. But apart from the commonality of top-of-mind emails from the C-Suite, communications in the age of coronavirus should not be one-size-fits-all. 

The novel coronavirus is having a massive influence on the global economy and retail marketers need to be able to respond and adapt to a quickly changing landscape. That’s why Movable Ink’s client strategy team is sharing industry-specific tactics that travel marketers can employ to maintain transparency and keep customers at the core of their critical communications.

Be ready to react quickly

With the impact we’ve seen on customer behavior and lifestyle changes, many organizations are rethinking their communication strategies. As new calendars are being built, be sure to think forward to what could change as the situation progresses. Having easy to pivot plans will make your life and decisions easier as you’re moving quickly to get messages out to your customers. 

For example, when university dorms across the US suddenly announced that they were closing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Frontier Airlines offered students free flights and a $100 voucher for future use if they suddenly needed to make plans to get home prior to the end of the semester. Not only will this drive business to Frontier for those who are traveling now, but the brand is really showing compassion which can lead to brand loyalty and future purchases. 

Shift to staycations and local destinations

As travel purchases decrease and consumers veer away from planning future travel, travel brands can shift to promoting local, road-trip-ready locations and promotions or staycations for those who want to social distance but still have a vacation.

By leveraging geolocation or a customer’s home zip code, brands can use targeting to personalize their campaigns with available car rentals, customized header images, or regional-specific destinations. Incorporate real-time pricing and availability so customers can plan their local trips as easily as possible.

Embrace aspirational and flexible marketing

While the situation is severe, many are looking at this as an opportunity to book future travel while prices are lower and cancellation policies are more lenient. For brands there’s a fine balance to strike here: marketers should not opportunize on impacted people but instead provide options for those who may want to be aspirational and plan trips well in advance. 

Focusing on flexible booking opportunities allows for dreamers to book for the future without the fear of losing their money. United Airlines quickly got an email out that emphasized their flexible policy that allows customers who book travel by March 31st to change their flights for free over the course of the next 12 months.

Be transparent about operations 

Travel brands should reassure customers and educate them on what the organization is doing to keep customers and employees safe. Showcase the safety protocols that have been put in place to give your customers peace of mind.

Organizations are leveraging messages from leadership to share information about resources and steps being taken to protect employees and customers – while this is now table stakes and necessary, many brands, like Travelocity, are creating web pages with more detailed and up to date information as a resource for customers. 

About the author

Elle Kross

Prior to joining Movable Ink, Elle worked at TravelClick, a SaaS-based travel technology company. She later moved into Financial Services where she worked in ECM marketing, B2B marketing, and communication strategy.

She joins Movable Ink from Citi, where she led the overhaul of the Credit Card businesses servicing communications. Most recently, Elle ran a team focusing on Citi’s ongoing initiative to drive digital as SVP of Drive-to-Paperless Strategy.