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Reconnecting with an older way of travel

Diego Chicharro, Strategy Director at Publicis • Poke asks, what if this pandemic offers an opportunity to look at the future of travel and build a brand that’s stronger than ever?

Diego Chicharro, Publicis • Poke

Strategy Director

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COVID-19 is putting 120 million jobs at risk in a travel sector that is not expected to fully recover until 2024. Brands are in an unprecedented situation, having to deal with a drastic reduction in revenue, an avalanche of customer complaints and a dilemma: when should we go back to brand comms and with what message?

Overnight, companies have had to adopt a reactive approach, protecting revenue in the short term with travel safety and booking flexibility messages while governments around the world keep changing their travel policies. All of a sudden, brand building seems to have taken a backseat to tactical sales.

But what if this pandemic was an opportunity to look at the future of travel and build a brand that can come out of the crisis stronger than ever?

The way we travel, whether by air, land or sea is changing, and only those who actively support the change will remain relevant in this new world.

Diego Chicharro

Shaping the way we’ll travel tomorrow

The pandemic is not just changing the way we travel today, it’s shaping the way we will travel tomorrow. It’s making consumers reconnect with an older, more sustainable way of travel that is here to stay.

We’re discovering new destinations away from hotspots punished by over tourism. Limitations in international travel have sparked new domestic tourism. Safety concerns have led to more road trips. The need for social distancing has inspired people to discover new, less popular destinations. We’ve seen some brands take advantage of this. Promote Iceland is encouraging people to let off lockdown steam with screams they can send to remote Icelandic locations, while Tourism New Zealand has created a videogame in an effort to inspire future travellers to explore the country’s natural beauty.

We’re starting to understand travel the way previous generations did, way before flying was as common as taking the bus, when going on a trip was an adventure you had to invest a significant amount of time and effort into. Because this pandemic has also made us rediscover the simpler pleasures. Walking. Cycling. Creating your own kind of trip instead of following the crowd to a sun & beach destination. Taking the time to engage with locals, understand their culture, not just chase the next Instagram shot.

Conscious travel

A more conscious kind of travel is emerging from the crisis. Travelling for business, education or to attend sporting events will be permanently reduced, leaving space for fewer but more conscious trips. Scotland’s new campaign ‘Only in Scotland can travelling so little make such a big difference’ is calling to people’s sense of duty to support the local economy. Wales is making visitors sign a pledge for safe and conscious travel. Cambodia is imposing a hefty $3,000 deposit to enter the country in an effort to move away from low value, high-risk mass tourism.

Only brands that can adapt not just their comms but their business model to these new behaviours will really be able to take advantage of the post-COVID travel industry. At Publicis • Poke we call this Living Ideas. Ideas that not only change what you say as a brand but how you behave as a business. We’re inspiring our clients to redefine who they are in culture and have an active role in helping society change the way we travel. Like P&O ferries, that started by having a point of view on Brexit and encouraging Britons to ‘Go make their own European unions’ and is now shifting the way people look at ferries from a centuries-old means of transport to a safer, more fulfilling way to travel.

The way we travel, whether by air, land or sea is changing, and only those who actively support the change will remain relevant in this new world.

Guest Author

Diego Chicharro, Publicis • Poke

Strategy Director,

About

Diego is a Strategy Director at Publicis • Poke. His culturally-led work has been recognised by multiple awards in the last ten years, time he has spent working at integrated agencies such as Quiet Storm and Saatchi & Saatchi, the socially-led creative agency We Are Social and leading the launch of the digital agency hooked.