Few industries have seen more of an impact from the events of the past couple of years than travel and hospitality. With shutdowns, travel restrictions, business travel bans, and other local safety ordinances, many people — even some who normally travel quite a bit — have stayed home much more than they would normally.
This has resulted in an inordinate amount of lapsed customers for travel brands ranging from hotels to airlines to cruise lines and various aggregators. Typically, a frequent travel customer who lapsed could probably safely be assumed to have moved their spending to a competitor.
But right now, this might be a customer whose travel spending actually has dropped to close to zero. That means they may very well be a customer you can reacquire, but it may take a different approach than you’d normally apply to a lapsed customer. Here are some tips for how you can use customer data to put together a personalized campaign that can get these customers back in the fold.
These customers are different
The first thing to keep in mind is, as mentioned above, these may not be your garden-variety lapsed customers. Many of them have essentially cut out travel entirely, and they may still not be ready to venture out on a big trip.
It’s worth remembering this as you approach any sort of lapsed campaign. These aren’t customers spending just as they did before but doing it elsewhere, and they could be customers who find the very idea of travel to be scary.
So it’s probably good to consider a lighter touch for a lapsed campaign right now than you normally would use. Recognize that people have been through a lot the past 2-3 years, and pushing too hard could turn them off.
Try a staycation
One option is to use your customers’ location to target them with more of a “staycation” than a big trip, trying to ease them back into travel.
Some hotels have offered promotions for people to purchase day passes in order to have a change of pace from working at home. Providing them with a roundup of local hotels that offer this program could be one way to get them out of the house and re-engaging with your brand.
This could give customers the gentle nudge they need to remember what they enjoyed about getting away in the first place.
You could also set up a campaign that would suggest driveable vacations for everyone on your list: national parks, campgrounds, tourist attractions (perhaps skew toward outdoors), wineries, etc. This could give customers the gentle nudge they need to remember what they enjoyed about getting away in the first place, while giving them a reason to spend with your brand again.
Experiment with virtual events
Especially for previously frequent customers who have lapsed since before March 2020 — and maybe even more so if they don’t respond to the “staycation” campaign — another way to reconnect with them could be via virtual events.
If that’s not something your brand can execute on your own, consider partnering with or sponsoring these with another company that has more expertise in this area.
Keep your brand on these customers’ minds so that you’re still there when they’re ready to get out again.
Cooking and mixology classes with well-known chefs and restaurateurs can be a way to provide lapsed customers with a fun experience to associate with your brand. These can feel like getaways even when they’re participating in them in their own kitchen.
Live virtual concerts have also been popular over the past year or so, as bands have often been hesitant to play indoor venues. Could your brand put together a small virtual music festival and invite some of your best lapsed customers for a free online event?
The key here is to think of ways to keep your brand on these customers’ minds so that you’re still there when they’re ready to get out again.
As much as you want to bring back these lapsed customers, you really have to give them a reason to re-engage. Some customers returned to traveling semi-regularly in 2021, and traditional lapsed campaigns might work fine for them.
But there are still plenty more who haven’t yet. This is a unique moment for travel and hospitality brands, and you may very well need a lighter, and different, touch to bring some people back.
As long as you keep in mind people’s personal needs and target your message to people in the right way, you have a chance of keeping them on board until they’re ready to dive back fully into travel.
If you’d like to see how MessageGears can help you utilize more of your data to set up campaigns like this, we’d love to talk about how our unique direct data connection has helped some of the world’s top travel and hospitality brands engage with their customers.