How Travel Marketing is Evolving with the 2022 Summer Season
By Jessica Duncan, Director of Research & Insights
The summer travel season has commenced, and many Americans are planning getaways that have been on hold or only dreamt about for the past two years. According to Vacasa’s 2022 summer travel trends, 85% of Americans have reported that they plan to travel more frequently this summer than they did in 2021. However, the travel predictions aren’t entirely sunny. For instance, more travelers mean busier airports, and in the current environment, the busy airport experience will be coupled with staff shortages, rising costs, and the still-looming threat of another COVID-19 outbreak. Higher demand also means higher prices and possibly fewer options, and some travelers will need to spend more to make that much-desired getaway turn into a reality. Therefore, travel companies have evolved their marketing to address today’s challenges and raise awareness to the perks of comfort, convenience, or cost-saving benefits they can offer to customers.
Perks Promoting Comfort
The headline reads “Relax before your flight in the Admirals Club.” Lounge access, a key selling point for premium travel cards, was moved to the backburner in recent years while marketing strategies switched to value propositions of everyday earning. Now, lounge access and other complimentary travel perks that come with airline co-brand cards, like the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, are front and center.
In a recent Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card offer, the email’s message and design focused on the perk of getting the first checked bag free. Access to priority boarding and the ability to board early and “settle in sooner” was also one of the email’s three featured benefits. To capitalize on the renewed interest in traveling, Competiscan has observed Delta Air Lines and co-brand card partner, American Express, unveil unique strategies to drive loyalty and gain new memberships. American Express Cardmembers were targeted with an offer to open the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card. The email acknowledged the existing cardholder as an experienced traveler and worked to evoke a sense of need by citing that the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card was for “Travelers In The Know” and that the card would give them access to more comforts, status, ease, and conveniences.
Delta Air Lines and American Express also teamed up to extend another attention-grabbing offer. In March, American Express cardmembers were presented with an exclusive invitation to receive a complimentary one-tier boost to their Delta SkyMiles status. To qualify the cardmember needed to submit proof of elite status with another qualifying airline, like American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and others. This campaign was designed to boost loyalty for Delta Air Lines in the coming peak travel months by influencing the behaviors of those that responded. Status is a key driver in travel programs and this offer included another layer of desirability. If the cardmember flew a certain number of miles with Delta Air Lines between March and August 2022, the complimentary higher status would be extended through January 2023.
Peace of Mind and Protection
Offering value through purchase protections and guarantees were other ways companies in the travel industry have articulated how they support customers in the current landscape. Cruise lines, car rental companies, and travel booking sites have frequently used messaging like “worry less, save more” or “worry-free” to boost the confidence consumers have with making a purchase or in relation to a scheduled or upcoming trip.
Celebrity Cruises reached out to a passenger regarding their upcoming cruise and raised awareness of its optional Cruise Care travel protection program. The coverage protects passengers if their baggage is lost, stolen, or delayed, or if their trip is interrupted in any way, including a medical issue in which they have to be transported home.
Perks Promoting Security
An existing cardholder of the Carnival FunPoints Mastercard received a communication with the message that “Travel is Back” and a reminder that their Carnival Mastercard could be their “best copilot” this summer. The email encouraged the cardholder to take advantage of features available through the mobile app, like making secure payments with a digital wallet, setting travel alerts, and leveraging card management features such as card locks and spending limits.
Creative and Cost-saving Travel
Hertz Car Rental has maintained consistent marketing attention to their EV car rentals by using taglines like “Lower emissions, not standards,” even stating within marketing communications that they offer the largest EV fleet in North America. But in addition to the focus on sustainability, Hertz has recently featured their EV rentals as a way to ditch the pump and go “fuel-free” in response to rising gas prices.
Additionally, to spark interest amongst their followers, Hertz used social media to introduce ways in which Hertz rental cargo vans or pickup trucks could offer alternative and creative road trip options.
Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines used social media to reach its followers with a listing of budget-friendly ways to enjoy Chicago which was included as part of a fare promotion for flights booked to the city.
Even with the challenges travelers may face this summer, there is no denying that travel has heated up. Whether it’s making a connection by showcasing added-value in the form of comfort, convenience, status, or cost-savings perks, travel companies will continue to eagerly vie for business by staying in front of existing or prospective customers and using unique but relevant marketing.