Marketing for when Domestic Travel is Allowed

When slowly the intent for travel is coming back for domestic and regional markets, how do you market your products as a tour operator ?

The first place where people will be allowed to roam freely again will be within the borders of their own countries. Packages targeted at domestic travelers will be the first to rebound.  People will be very excited to go out. First in the vicinity of their house and slowly in wider circles mainly to replenish physical and mental capacities, but also for family visits and religious purposes (in small group).

Needs of domestic travelers are different, domestic travellers know the market much better and are well capable to negotiate prices with hotels and service providers themselves. As an experience creator and curator, you can use your strenghts and indpeth knowledge of locations to create extra value by letting people see their own country in a safer or new way then they can do themselves. You know with accommodations do really good health wise, which chalets are most isolated on the property, which tour guides tell the best stories etc. This is valuable for customers. Starting to market for domestic travelers can help you with creating a better story for inbound travellers that will follow.

Another characteristic of domestic travel is that lead times are much shorter, it's less scary to book and therefor your customer journey will look different then for inbound customers. This also counts for your offered packages, you probably sell more day trips, weekend breaks and other short trips.

Shorter trips mean less revenue per trip, meaning you need to sell more trips to get the same amount of revenue against maybe a more competitive price. Calculate if that is interesting for your company, how many trips do you need to sell ? Through which channels, is that possible ?

When you start offering domestic packages regaining trust from people to travel is one of the most important parts to get them booking again. To gain trust make sure you communicate health measure and how you take care of your customers are part of your marketing messages.

Communicate Health Measures

One thing that domestic and your first inbound customers will have in common is that they will be looking for comfort and reassurance that they will stay healthy, how can you give them that ?

You can give your customers trust by being part of a certification system or self assessment of standardized guidelines, for example this guidelines from the word travel & tourism council. Having a clear logo or stamp that you are following these guidelines is a quick way of communicating a lot of information, because people understand the stamp and then don't have to go through your own set of guidelines.

Communicate about the opening of facilities and experiences

Another thing that domestic travelers and inbound travelers share is that they are both searching for information on how and when leisure and holiday experiences will reopen.

Use these kind of question to profit from search engine traffic: for example when will restaurants reopen in <name of your destination> are questions that are entered frequently in search engines.

What are the questions your niche is asking ? If you give an answer to those questions, you are not only helpful but you will also tap into search trends in search engines.

Tour Package information: 

How they customers cancel or postpone bookings if because of changing conditions they feel uncomfortable to book.
What are the (increased) health and hygiene standards during the tour.

Promotions and combining csr with marketing

Several companies combine early bookings with doing good, for example by showing their appreciation for health workers by letting customers nominate a front liner for a free holiday or donate a part of the money to a covid-19 fund.

When do you start promoting domestic travel packages

This depends on your booking policy, if you sell "open" bookings where people can define the booking date later, you can start marketing now, and use it as a way to let people dream away about when they can go again. Make sure you package your marketing in a sensitive and positive way.

Which products to promote ?

Nature, remote,

Short breaks & Day Trips

Self drives in combination with chalets and holiday homes. Hotels are still being found scary by a lot of people.

Inbound Marketing

Keep an eye on which markets open soon ? If we look at the different scenario's, the first market to open will be the domestic market, where people will go out.

Inbound of neighboring countries & direct flight

Ensure that b2b partners have a clear picture what you are doing to keep their customers healthy.

  • Keep an close eye on travel advisories - market to those countries that have easy advisories
  • Adventure travelers / backpackers & Digital Nomads - Remote workers - make special packages 
  • If borders are open
  • Cheap flights
  • Cheap hotels
  • Exclusive experience
  • Be careful with discounts but make first comers special by delivering a bit more (value adding), upgrade of hotel rooms, a free bottle of wine, a souvenir gift, an extra free tour or boat ride. / A free dinner, 
  • Focus on inspiring (top of funnel only)
  • Use your best experiences
  • Make them excellent on your site
  • Blog about them
  • Put them on LinkedIn
  • On FB and on Instagram
  • Market in cities that you are know in
  • Focus on Remote Locations 
  • Check which airlines have good rates - free rebooking and cancelations for 2021 - Make packages for 2021 - ? 
  • Reward loyal, or potentially repeat, customers.
  • If you book with us, send email give your friend a discount of … percent
  • Buy discounted vouchers now till … and redeeming them from July onwards.
  • - In Manchester - they also donate to csr.  - Other names are dining bonds - travel bonds
  • Share pre paid bookings helps you to pay salaries or give advances to guides. 
  • Be wary to give deep discounts : especially for longer time, because that makes it more difficult to get back to normal prices. 
  • Add CSR initiatives to your bookings : 10% goes to help .. recover from the crisis. 
  • Make your brand stronger : reevaluate who you are : are you being clear enough ? What can you do to make your brand even more clearer?  A clear branding helps to attract (the right) customers. 
  • Be Wary to include tours with a group of strangers, people might be hesitant for that for a while.