5 types of COVID-19 travelers in 2021 hoteliers need to know

I can’t wait to start traveling again. I miss researching destinations, exploring new cities, sampling local food and getting out of my comfort zone. I truly hope that the vaccine spurs the return of travel and summer 2021 will be filled with trips. But, I know that not everyone shares my sentiment. A friend who used to travel every week for his job as a management consultant is hoping that his trips can be far less frequent. He has gotten used to spending more time with his family and feels more effective over Zoom than on the road. The fact is that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in different ways. Some are ready to hop on the next international flight and some want to continue to wait out the pandemic out at home. 

According to research conducted by  Booking.com, the pandemic has birthed five new travel personas that are emerging in 2021. In this post, we share the five types of Covid-19 travelers and how to accommodate them. 

The solo solace traveler 

This type of traveler desperately misses travel but is still concerned about safety. They are ready to leave their homes but they want to do it cautiously. They want to travel and explore alone, versus being among large crowds. This traveler is looking for safe activities, such as outdoor dining or hiking. To appeal to this traveler, you will want to focus your marketing efforts on your safety protocols and ensure they know that you make guest and staff safety a priority.

To get extra points with solo solace travelers, target them with hotel marketing. Segment your solo guests and send them an email upon arrival with on-property or local activities that they can do alone. Share staff favorite hikes in the local vicinity or outdoor dining spots. And, since safety is top of mind for them, remind them that you take safety issues seriously and they should reach out to the G.M., immediately, with any concerns.  

The relaxury traveler

This new persona views travel as a way to relax and be pampered after a tough year spent at home, in quarantine. This traveler is looking to be taken care of and, unlike some of the more safety-minded travelers, doesn’t want a pared-down hotel experience. They’re spending money on a five-star experience and they want it all, from the chocolates on the pillow to the recognition at check-in.

To ensure you meet this traveler’s needs, you will need to maintain high levels of service and a personalized experience. The relaxury traveler is a good reminder that some guests will still want daily housekeeping and turn-down service, even if it means a slightly riskier stay, from a Covid-19 safety standpoint.

To accommodate the relaxury traveler, use data from Revinate’s arrivals report to personalize the stay. Greet them by name when they arrive and welcome them back like old friends. The report will tell you if they provided post-stay feedback following their last stay, so use it to ensure a perfect stay this time. For example, if they wrote a review about your incredibly luxurious pillows, leave a few extra in the room with a handwritten note about how you know they love the pillows. These little personalized touches will drive loyalty with the relaxury traveler ane, hopefully, a customer for life.

The breakaway bubble traveler

This traveler is safety conscious but has missed spending time with family and friends so will choose to travel with a like-minded group of friends or family members. To meet this traveler’s needs, ensure your staff doesn’t become complacent around Covid-19 cleaning policies or social distancing and focus on email for hotel marketing. 

To attract family groups, ensure that your promotional emails feature photos of groups enjoying the property together. Plant the seed that it’s safe for ‘quaranteams’ to travel together because the hotel focuses on safety while providing the space for your group to be together. Use the pre-stay and arrivals email to share ideas of safe activities in the vicinity, such as hiking trails or outdoor attractions. 

The brief weekend getaway traveler

We have talked about this persona a fair bit on the blog because this traveler was one of the first to begin traveling during the pandemic. This traveler wants a quick escape and will drive to a local destination rather than fly. In San Francisco, for example, the brief weekend getaway traveler might make summer 2021 travel plans to Napa or Sonoma Valley, Big Sur or Santa Cruz. These destinations are short car-rides away but allow for a change of pace after a year spent at home.

To meet this traveler’s needs for a quick, safe getaway, you need to maintain your hotel’s focus on health and safety but also allow them to reset and recharge. Maximizing their time with you is important, since it will be a short stay. As space allows, we suggest you isolate your drive-to weekend travelers and send them a targeted pre-arrival email that allows them to upgrade for early check-in or late check-out to make the most of the weekend. 

Food Fanatics

If you’re like most people, you saved a lot of money over the last year by eating at home. A new type of pandemic traveler is all about food and wanting to experience local cuisine while on vacation. To encourage this traveler to book with you, create a hotel email campaign that is all about the food. Share the dishes that your outlets are famous for, or let your staff share their favorite local restaurants and bars. If you can help these travelers get a full sense of your destination and eat like locals, they’ll have a great time and will likely return.

With five very different types of new travelers on the horizon, email segmentation has never been more important to ensure you capture the booking. As people begin traveling again, competition for their travel dollars will be fierce. The promotional emails that hotels send can only stand out if they feel truly personalized to the recipient. 

For the most accurate segmentation, you need access to great data. Today, the best source of guest data for hotels comes from the PMS. What kind of guest data can you uncover in your PMS? Some examples include demographic data, including location and family status, booking behavior, average length of stay, average booking window, loyalty information and more. In looking at the five new traveler personas, it should be apparent how you can use this data to isolate weekend travelers, bubble travelers, solo travelers and relaxury travelers. 

If we can help you think through how to attract and retain these five types of pandemic travelers, please reach out. We would love to show you the power of Revinate Marketing and share why leading hoteliers are using it to create revenue-driving campaigns as they prepare for travel’s recovery.