How data can help inspire and rebuild traveler confidence

Elena Isasi

Article originally published in TTG Media

Traveling may be off the cards during lockdown, but that doesn’t stop travelers from dreaming up their next trip – whether it’s on social media (as seen from the popular #dreamnowvisitlater hashtag) or online.

The Online Travel Agency (OTA) data reveals, in 2020 many people monitored destinations that were open for business at the most competitive prices.

Similarly, the travel industry must continue to monitor digital behavior and sentiments of travelers, given that 63% of the world’s population is now online.

Data is pivotal in creating tailored offers and effective messaging

Data helps destinations make predictions about when, where, and why people want to travel. A single online search can provide helpful data. When multiplied, it helps formulate a profile of potential customers.

When a booking is made, decision details can be combined with existing data into ‘choice modeling’ algorithms, that show only carefully tailored future offers. Thanks to a combination of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and large data sets, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can better connect with travelers and inspire them ahead of a memorable trip.

If the destination is not being searched for, DMOs can use these insights to target relevant prospective travelers and encourage first-time visits.

Inspire visitors at home during the lockdown

In April 2020, DMO Marketing Greece reached out to potential customers while also delivering a ‘stay at home’ message with their Greece From Home campaign. It was a project for Greek National Tourism Organization. They targeted travelers from Germany and Austria. The aim was to update them on the latest situation in Greece and encourage them to travel safely and at the right time.

By monitoring performance every 10 to 15 days, the DMO pinpointed optimal times to move to the next stages. It culminated in the Endless Greek Summer campaign. It was inspiring travelers to visit during the summer or at an off-peak time. As a result, by the end of July 2020, Greece was attracting 25% of Southern Europe-focused travelers. It was an increase of 5% from the previous year.

Pre-pandemic assumptions about destinations are now obsolete

By observing countries open for travel, our own data modeling shows a dramatic shift from established norms with pre-booking times and trip lengths. The popularity of destinations evolves regularly, as consumers respond flexibly to travel restrictions – which renders DMOs’ pre-pandemic assumptions obsolete.
Greece traditionally competes with Spain and Italy in drawing tourists from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. But in 2020, Croatia and Turkey became popular alternatives due to perceived safety and country restrictions.

To summarize:

  • It’s more important than ever for DMOs to understand the motivations, preferences, and online behaviors of potential target audiences. In this way, they can reach them with the right message at the right time.
  • Data is constantly changing, so DMO campaigns need to be regularly updated. Data-led, industry-wide, and coordinated work will be pivotal in rebuilding traveler confidence.

The better DMOs know each market, the more sensitively they can reach visitors. As a result, the more successfully the travel sector can navigate towards recovery.