Brief #66: Revenge travel is here

This content originally appeared on June 10, 2021 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe. 

Today, we’re discussing…

  • The rise of revenge travel
  • Staycations and sustainability for competitive advantage
  • #BrandCrush: Oklahoma Aquarium 💘

Join TINT and Hootsuite on Thursday, June 17 @ 12pm ET as we discuss new research on the impact of social content in travel, tourism, and hospitality – in partnership with travel research experts at Phocuswright.

The rise of revenge travel

After being cooped up for more than a year, it seems ‘revenge travel’ is the latest buzzword – a sheer combination of wanderlust and suppressed demand. This means travelers are now after: 

  • Bigger and longer trips
  • More people traveling together 
  • Better experiences, overall

And yes, sanitation and safety guidelines will still be a priority.

With consumers facing new emotions around travel, relieving their hesitations should be the priority of every brand and campaign. This means finding a balance between your offerings and commitment to customer safety is crucial. 

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Share messages of safety
    Instead of telling customers how clean and sanitized everything is — find the content being shared from customers and employees showing the same thing.
  2. Collab with trusted figures
    Micro- and nano- influencers are more trusted than celebrities because they have better relationships with fans (and 7x more engagement than mega-influencers).
  3. Display user- and employee-generated content (UGC and EGC) across multiple channels
    People want to see happy customers and employees enjoying experiences with your brand.
  4. Don’t forget the long-term
    When demand returns to “normal,” people will become even more selective about the brands they invest in. Build your brand for the long term.

As vaccinations roll out, travelers will do their due diligence – and it’s up to brands to communicate in a way that builds trust. Like this:

A tweet by Delta that reads "Travel to Europe is reopening! Open this thread to see some European countries open for tourism right now and what you need to get there." With an arrow pointing downwards.
A tweet within Delta's thread about countries reopening. This tweet is about Spain and uncovers whether or not quarantine, COVID-19 tests, forms, and exemptions are required. The tweet also features user-generated content of a woman walking between Spanish buildings.

Consider questions travelers will be asking as they contemplate where they’ll spend their money.

What are the positivity rates where I want to visit? Are masks still required? Are there capacity limits? Is this an experience I want to have, or do other places/businesses/options provide something better?

Staycations and sustainability for competitive advantage

Customers are growing increasingly concerned with the impact travel has on pollution, so discussing sustainability efforts of a hotel, flight, or tourist experience will be expected (especially considering Gen Z and millennials value it).  

Check out this Instagram post from @SixSensesZighyBay – where they participated in #WorldEnvironmentDay by re-sharing user-generated content (UGC): 

A screenshot of @SixSensesZighyBay's Instagram displaying an image of a sunrise or sunset behind a mountainous landscape. The description references #WorldEnvironmentDay and focusing on resetting their relationship with nature. They also tagged the original creator of the image (@thomasmaurion)

The interest in cleanliness, environmentalism, and sustainability can push travelers towards unique locations, where their needs and values are being met. However, international travel is still on the fence, which means domestic travel and staycations will continue to surge in popularity. In fact, HospitalityNet reported:

  • 76% of the 163 consumer and hotelier respondents said they considered booking a Staycation
  • 75% of the 36 hoteliers indicated they were targeting Staycation demand during the summer of 2020 (and planning to continue post-pandemic).

”One of the things we really want to use to promote the destination is user-generated content,” shared Discover Dominica Authority. “During the pandemic, many things were locked down and we were not getting as much content as we did previously.

Participants for Staycation 2021 are therefore encouraged to take loads of pictures and videos to post on social media. Push the word out so that potential visitors to our shores are aware of the many activities and accommodation options available.”

What we’re learning

#BrandCrush: Oklahoma Aquarium 💘

Each week in #BrandCrush, we highlight exceptional brands that are channeling their customers’ voice to connect more authentically with their audience.

As travel, tourism, and hospitality find their balance, Oklahoma Aquarium does a great job at keeping fans updated about new protocols and engaging their fans in a way that doesn’t feel sales-y.

In fact, one of their TikTok videos – where they rank the aquarium’s ugliest animals – reached over 1.6M views!

A young, blonde woman standing behind a podium that reads "Oklahoma Aquarium" and a presentation screen behind her that reads "Ranking Our Ugliest Animals" with an image of the aquarium's facility.

When we asked their content creator and Education Specialist, Alyssa Rodriguez, what caused the spike, she shared, “I think people respond really well to content that seems like it was made by their friend. When we’re participating in trends that aren’t specific to the zoo and aquarium industry, it’s often when we get the biggest response.”

The aquarium also activated the Q&A section on TikTok, which welcomes questions (or UGC) from fans, and gives the aquarium the ability to respond with a video.  

There’s a lesson to be learned here: people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. Educate your audience, update them, entertain them, respond to them, and encourage them to submit questions or feedback.

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