Travel Marketing In 2022 - Will The Market Explode!?
The last 18 months have been nothing short of a disaster for the travel industry. Many sectors have suffered, but travel is arguably the sector that has taken the brunt of the pandemic's brutal right hook. And, even now, while other industries are once again flourishing, the travel sector continues to operate well below par. Not only do travel companies face a constant battle to interpret the government's constantly evolving testing requirements, they are having to bend over backwards to match travelers' ever changing plans.
However could that all be about to change in 2022? When you look at the evidence a resurgence beyond pre-pandemic levels looks a strong possibility. It certainly wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest that the travel sector is about to blow up, like a very expensive Chinese fireworks display. Fasten your seatbelts, a travel frenzy could well be on its way in 2022.
For many British holidaymakers two summers have been lost to the pandemic. And, just to rub salt in wounds, summer 2021 was one of the wettest summers on record. Naturally this has left many British travellers desperate to escape abroad for some consistent sun and continental adventure.
In August the sector saw for the first time passenger numbers start to reach pre-pandemic levels, with Heathrow Airport recording more than 2 million for the first time since March 2019. Despite this positive increase it is still down a staggering 71% down on the 7.7 million that transited through the airport during that same period in 2019.
But just why might travel make a real comeback in 2022? Let's explore.
Factors That Point Towards a Resurgence
- Less Competition in the Market
The pandemic sadly saw many casualties in the travel sector. From travel giants and student favourites STA, to smaller more specialist operators such as Tucan Travel, firms of all shapes and sizes succumbed to the uncertainty and chaos that is/was the pandemic. A number of airlines also fell victim to its effects, as well-established firms such as Virgin Australia and FlyBe collapsed. Norwegian Air even decided to suspend its once lucrative transatlantic offering from the UK in the face of the pandemic.
While it is certainly sad to lose such companies that were once household names, it could be argued that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the sector.
“We need a recession. We have had 10 years of growth. A recession gets rid of crappy loss-making airlines and it means we can buy aircraft more cheaply.”
CEO of Ryanair Michael O’Leary speaking in 2008 when discussing the impact of the recession.
Yes, this quote is over 12 years old. Yes, it is rather blunt (very much Mr O’Leary’s style). But it does harbour some truths that are just as poignant today. With travel operators and airlines vacating the scene, it paves the way for financially stable and efficient businesses to flourish and gobble up market share. From an online marketing perspective it also opens the door to lower cost per click rates on Google Ads and the prospect of climbing above competitors' search positions who are no longer ranking for them online.
- Pent up demand
There is no doubt that the pandemic provided a unique opportunity to tour some of the UK’s beautiful hotspots. However, after two summers of limited travel, the prospect of a foriegn adventure to explore and embrace a different culture has never been more appealing. Like never before, many of us are yearning to travel and explore the world.
Prior to the pandemic, travel was one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide with consistent growth year on year. The chart below from Statista showcases this rapid advancement when looking at the contribution of travel and tourism to gross domestic product (GDP) worldwide from 2006 to 2020. This is further supported by the fact that there was a 23.35% increase in the four years between 2015 and 2019.
Travel was, without doubt, a booming sector on both a domestic and worldwide scale before the pandemic. It is therefore inevitable that in 2022, in the face of pent up demand, that the sector will pick up where it left off.
- Restrictions Easing
Terms and phrases none of us ever want to hear or experience again...
- “The red list”
- “Hotel quarantine”
- “Passenger locator forms”
- “We are experiencing higher call volumes than usual due to COVID-19...”
Anyone that has traveled in the last 18 months knows just how difficult (and expensive) it has been. But, as noted earlier, it didn’t discourage 2.2million passengers from returning to the dance floor in August despite so many uncertainties. Fortunately, days of restrictions appear to be on the decline.
From November 6th the USA is opening its doors again to travelers from Europe, while Australia is due to follow suit in November/December. Such large markets open up a wave of potential for travel and breathe a sense of relief and security back into the market. With the red list now virtually scrapped, the number of tests required much lower, and no need for any sort of quarantine if you are fully vaccinated, there finally appears to be a workable solution for travel to return to the masses.
- The enormous voucher shift from 2020/2021
Anyone that had anything booked historically during 2020 and 2021 will likely have been subjected to the merry-go-round of claiming travel vouchers or credits or simply having to move their trip to a later date. While some may have used that credit already, there will be millions (billions?) of pounds waiting to be used and spent with airlines and hotels that will likely be used as soon as viable during 2022. Also, consider just how many weddings have been postponed and moved to a later date. And with weddings comes stag dos, hen dos and honeymoons, all of which are popular options for a trip to the continent that will open up again in 2022.
And that brings us to 2022...
If 2022 really is to be the year that travel enjoys a resurgence on a mass scale then it is vital that you get your online marketing strategy in the right place as soon as you can! As well as forecasting travel predictions, we are also a travel marketing agency for any companies that require SEO, PPC and social media marketing. If you need any support, we’d love to help. If not, we hope you enjoyed the piece and experience a prosperous year in 2022!
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