Prepare your business for an influx of travelers later this year.
The travel industry endured some of the most extreme lows it has ever seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdowns happening all over the world, many of the most popular travel destinations were left empty, leaving businesses that rely on tourist travel scrambling to survive. Borders were closed, budgets were slashed, and many travel-focused businesses saw more economic downturn than anyone could have imagined. Travel-related businesses have been waiting over a year to return to “normal” as COVID-19 impacted every aspect of how they operate.
Now, with travel bans lifting and vaccines being rolled out to people across the world, the travel industry is seeing a large influx of customers and users since the beginning of the pandemic. With a large portion of the United States being vaccinated and the spread of the virus slowing down, people across the country now feel comfortable to begin traveling domestically and internationally again. With summer now here, travel-focused businesses need to gear up for the upcoming travel increase and make sure that their website can accommodate the new expectations of users.
Is your business ready for the upcoming travel season? Check out some of the new changes in the digital landscape or travel trends that may impact your business moving forward.
While you may have been updating website content throughout the pandemic, many websites sat idle while businesses held their breath waiting for travel restrictions to lift. Now that the world is beginning to open and normal travel is coming back, these websites have content that is over a year old with little to no updates.
While your website may have evergreen content that will never truly “age”, it would be wise to go over your site’s content to ensure it reflects your current offerings and can compete with similar companies in the digital landscape. Have you revised content to combat the upcoming cookie-less world? Have you updated your SEO strategy since before the pandemic? Are you regularly coming out with blogs and other compelling content for your users? If not, it may be time for an update.
New Expectations and Influx of Users
The pandemic has changed the way we live our day-to-day lives and how businesses operate altogether. As a society, we have had to adapt to the “new normal” which includes performing most in-person functions digitally or over the phone. With these huge societal changes, many users have been accustomed to the new digital landscape that makes it easier to perform tasks online that previously needed to be done in person. Expectations have changed and it is unlikely that the world will ever go back to how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic; these digital expectations are here to stay.
In the travel and tourism space, this sentiment is more relevant than ever before. You need to make sure that your website is fast, seamless, and user-friendly because that is what users need and expect when interacting with any site. Users will no longer wait on slow loading speeds or sort through poor navigation to receive the one piece of content they want. If your website does not measure up, thousands of competitors will accommodate their digital needs.
In addition to the new expectations of users, you may see a large influx of new users to your site as a whole. You may receive more users visiting your site than even before the pandemic with travelers itching to get away after the past year in lockdown. Can your site accommodate a multitude of users and their needs? Are your loading speeds fast enough considering the new influx of users? Is your website compatible with mobile devices? Making sure that your website is prepared for new and existing users will give you the best outcome post-pandemic.
Implementing New Digital Tools
With new customer expectations, come innovative solutions. Depending on your travel-based business, there are advanced digital tools for your industry that can elevate your website and user experience. While hotel websites may need interactive video tours of their many amenities, activity-based companies may need e-sign capabilities for safety waivers. No matter what part of the travel industry you are in, there are amazing tools that will help aid your business and customers.
In recent years, Airbnb has implemented a new section to their website that aids customers staying in Airbnb's around the world to find activities in these respective cities. Even though their business is based on finding great accommodations, Airbnb saw this unique opportunity to provide their customers an even better user experience while also helping smaller businesses in these areas find more customers.
While certain implementations may not work for every travel-based business, there are so many integrations that can elevate the function and aesthetic of your site. Check some of the most popular digital integrations for travel below:
Location trackers – More businesses are opening for in-person interaction including restaurants, activities, and live performances. Make sure you have location trackers so users can figure out where you are in relation to their destination.
In-site booking – If you are a hotel or accommodation, make sure that you allow people to book right on the site. If they are redirected to third-party apps or made to jump through hoops just to book an accommodation, they are likely to choose a more user-friendly competitor.
Video tours – One large aspect of showing off a travel destination or amenity is to show the user what they will be getting. Interactive or guided video tours will provide a great deal of information that users may not get just by reading; they need to see it for themselves.
Weather app capabilities – When visiting a new destination, travelers may not understand how different the weather might be in their vacation spot. Provide intuitive weather trackers so you can aid your users during their planning process.
Integrated calendars – If your business offerings have a level of planning needed ahead of time, having a digital calendar that users can interact with is key. All the parasailing excursions booked up in August? Let your users know in the interactive calendar!
TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews – When users are unsure about an accommodation or amenity, they are likely to trust the opinion of someone who has done it before. By allowing integrations from review websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, you can get feedback from real users right on your website, aiding customers in their purchasing decisions.
Staying Competitive in the Industry
Whether your travel business is a hotel, destination, excursion, or another type of accommodation, there will be a sense of competition among businesses during the new travel season. With all travel-related businesses in the same boat amid travel bans and lockdowns, everyone is trying to get new customers and travelers to book with their company or visit their destination. To remain competitive in the market, you must meet and exceed customer expectations as well as provide cutting-edge solutions that your competitors may not provide.
One way to stay on top of customers' minds is to improve your SEO strategy to fit the new market. When you prioritize Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you are more likely to show up at the top of search results in search engines like Google, Bing, and more. When users search a topic like “best hotels in Cancun”, you want your website and business to be as close to the top as possible, making it easy for users to find you.
Another way to stay competitive is by personalizing website content to fit the type of vacation experience they are looking for. Have you noticed that high numbers of users are researching snorkeling activities on your site? Personalize the homepage so they receive information on the best water-based activities your destination offers. By staying on top of the trends found within the data just on your site alone, you find valuable information that can help you determine how to better speak to your users.
While it can be difficult to anticipate what trends will work for your travel business or not, it is important to keep these trends at top of mind to see how you can meet the changing expectations of users. There is no “one size fits all” approach to navigating travel post-pandemic but making small improvements to your website will only help your business succeed in the new digital landscape. As the world continues to open, there are likely to be more trends that arise in the travel space. Be sure to stay agile and informed on the new expectations in the travel industry and enjoy this post-pandemic travel boom bringing new business to your company.