Journey mapping: Why advertisers must rethink strategies to convert surging domestic travel demand
After the year we’ve just had, Australians are desperate for a holiday. But their demands and behaviours have shifted – and they are planning and booking very differently. For advertisers, that presents both challenge and opportunity.
Consumer confidence is returning and millions of Australians are now planning an interstate holiday, according to latest data.
But the way people are researching, planning and booking has shifted. In effect, consumers are now on a longer, more laborious journey before they even take a trip. In a post-pandemic landscape, there are many more factors to consider. Which means marketers must rethink strategies to be sure of landing messages at just the right points along the way – and converting when the time is right.
Intent and confidence rising
Intent to travel interstate has increased significantly from January to March, according to Kantar’s monthly poll of 4,000 Australians. Across the country, people want to create their own journeys and find new experiences after a year of uncertainty.
That’s fantastic for the tourism and leisure industries as they regroup and rebuild post-Covid, says Kantar National Director, Kirsty MacMillan. But she and Nine Director of Strategy, Insights & Effectiveness, Toby Boon, urge brands to recognise that consumer journeys have also shifted over the last 12 months: There is now far more attention to detail.
“Every week, Australians get a little bit more confident about what they're going to be able to do, where they're going to be able to travel, and feeling a little bit safer. But there is definitely a change in the way that we see things and the way that we approach things,” says Boon.
“We're now far more conscious about things like health and safety, about regulations, about whether or not cancellations are going to hit us in our pockets. So that travel planning phase, which was once part of the experience, part of the fun, now feels a lot more like homework.”
Expectations have also shifted. Whereas once families were making decisions based on the size of the water park, “now we just want to know whether or not the pool is open, whether there are safety precautions in place – whether we're going to be able to get in there at all”, says Boon.
Domestic travel consideration by Nine-owned channel, to March 2021
Advertisers: New approach required
Australians are trying to balance practical priorities with a desire to “discover some newness” domestically, says Kantar’s Kirsty MacMillan. As such, there has been a “noticeable shift” in how people are planning and booking – and how far they are casting their nets.
MacMillan and Boon say that has implications for advertisers.
“Over the past year or so, when we have traveled, we've tended to stay quite close to home and sort of go to those reliable places where we know we're going to feel safe,” says Boon, and marketers have mirrored that approach.
“A lot of advertisers have taken a relatively safe path. They have reached for those ‘greatest hits’, the familiar things that they know people are going to respond to.”
Now, he says, advertisers must not only introduce new ideas, “but also recognise that the way that people are planning their journey has changed quite a lot. It's not linear anymore, it's longer”.
Adapting to those behaviourial shifts will give advertisers a far greater chance of influencing decisions, says Boon, while MacMillan thinks successful marketers will be those that adjust their messaging accordingly.
“So how [advertisers] interact and facilitate that behavior change through their communications, but also the product and experience they're developing and adapting that to the change in values that we're saying as well,” she says.
“There is space for clarification and simplification in the messaging,” he says. Take that feeling of homework out of it and get people back to being excited about travel again – and if you can make those messages clear, that is going to be really helpful.”
Think longer, convert stronger
Given rising demand, advertisers that tailor their strategies to the new environment stand a far better chance of converting. Ultimately, brands need to start advertising earlier and maintain engagement with audiences over a longer period.
“Because of that shift in the consumer journey, we're planning earlier, but you need to be able to keep those people warm – so even if they're not traveling right now, those people are still in the market,” says Boon.
“They want to travel and they want travel advertisers to be talking to them. So now is actually the time to be really dialling up your communication with them, not pulling back,” he adds.
“We are desperate to get out there. We might be thinking more long-term, we might be thinking further ahead than we were, but the desire is really there.”
For more information on Nine’s consumer pulse research, and how Nine can help brands navigate the consumer mindset, head to www.nineforbrands.com.au for more information, or reach out to your Nine sales representative.