Eager vs. Cautious Travelers: How Brands Can Connect Right Now

By Ericka Podesta McCoy, CMO, Resonate

After more than a year of massive revenue hits and industry-wide turmoil, the travel industry is finally getting some good news. At present, 46 percent of consumers already feel safe traveling within their state, and 32 percent feel safe traveling to a different state. And, with nearly 140 million of Americans vaccinated, that number is set to increase in the coming weeks and months—all throughout the summer travel season.

As we look toward travel industry recovery, travel and hospitality marketers will need to use real-time, accurate data to connect with travelers, particularly given their widely differing attitudes and timelines on returning to travel. According to a just-released travel report from consumer intelligence firm Resonate, there are important distinctions between eager travelers and cautious travelers to note. Here are the highlights.

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Eager Travelers

Eager travelers, as outlined in Resonate’s analysis, are those who expected travel to resume this summer. These travelers cite adventure and entertainment as the top reasons they travel. In addition, they are: 

  • 26 percent more likely than average American to believe life will be back to normal in 4-6 months
  • 52 percent male
  • 20 percent 25-34 years of age
  • 46 percent full-time employed
  • 10 percent more likely than the average American to take 4-6 international trips a year
  • 47 percent completely or very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine

These travelers are active on Snapchat and Instagram, and they’re more likely than the average American to engage with a company’s societal program, download an app from a retailer, and follow a company on social media. 

The top hobbies of eager travelers include going to the beach, taking lake vacations, hiking and camping. When staying at hotels, they’re looking for convenient locations, complimentary breakfasts, free WiFi, safety and value. From a brand perspective, these travelers are most likely to book a flight with Southwest or American Airlines and stay with Hampton Inn or Hilton.

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Cautious Travelers

Compared to eager travelers, cautious travelers are pushing out their travel timelines. These individuals believe travel will not resume as usual until October 2021 or later. But even if they’re not hopping on a plane tomorrow, they still represent a prime audience that travel marketers need to be connecting with right now. 

While eager travelers crave stimulation and excitement, cautious travelers value safety and nature above all else. In addition, they are: 

  • 45 percent more likely than the average American to believe it will be more than a year before life is back to normal
  • 56 percent female
  • 18 percent 55-64 years of age
  • 19 percent retired
  • 44 percent completely or very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine

These travelers are 29 percent more likely than the average American to get the vaccine within one year of availability—a delayed timeframe compared to eager travelers. When these travelers do resume their vacations, you’ll find them at Holiday Inn or Marriott and booking a flight with American Airlines or Delta.

The Importance of Flexibility

For travel brands, it’s important to know who you’re communicating with when it comes to offering deals to potential travelers. If you reach a given individuals with offers that are too eager or too cautious in terms of their personal travel plans, your messaging is sure to fall flat. 

Across the board, flexibility is going to be key to getting travelers back on board. Resonate’s analysis found that 21 percent of both eager and cautious travelers say their likelihood to review a cancellation policy has increased. This could be the make or break in booking—so how can your brand make them feel confident their trip is protected?

To get these travelers back in the air, marketers need three sticky note reminders on their computers: Safety. Deals. Planning. If you can tailor your communications to the individual around these three elements, the road to recovery will be a far smoother ride.  

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