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As borders open, how are travel marketers cashing in on pent-up demand? | Marketing


New Zealand reopened its borders to 60 countries on May 2 after nearly three years of isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the country has one of the most complete border closures in the world, it has slowly reopened it after this enforced dormancy.

Like many other tourism boards and travel brands around the world, Tourism New Zealand has found itself redesigning and ramping up marketing spend as borders reopen. Tourism New Zealand has been trying to keep domestic tourists’ interest in attractions such as Milford Sound and Mount Cook fresh for the past two years, but over the past few months, Tourism New Zealand has taken a more aggressive approach. For an aggressive marketing strategy.

“We used to focus on long-term brand building when the borders were closed,” said Venessa Chen, Tourism New Zealand’s regional consumer marketing manager for Asia. Campaign Asia Pacific“We’ve now shifted to short-term demand generation as we gradually reopen our borders.”

To that end, the tourism board is now focusing on activities further down the funnel to encourage visitors to confirm their plans to travel to the poles, investing heavily in key markets such as Australia (its largest source of visitors), India and Japan. China, an important market for New Zealand, remains closed due to a resurgence of Covid cases, but Chen remains confident the market will open. “We think the recovery will be slow initially, but we expect the industry to grow rapidly once the market stabilizes,” Chen added.

An example of a down funnel campaign is Tourism New Zealand working with airline partners on tactical campaigns to drive conversions. It also launched a “Message for Singapore” campaign in lower-funnel media (planning and booking), digital media supported by positioning and remarketing, and performance media such as search, travel review and booking sites.

Chen said the tone and messaging used by the board has evolved from “inspirational” and “emotional” to more CTA-led, fast-paced and event-focused messages to inspire travelers to start planning and Book a holiday.

Before closing its borders in March 2020, Tourism New Zealand took a two-pronged approach of long-term brand building and short-term demand generation. Now, with borders opening, the group’s immediate priority is a short-term activation aimed at boosting the industry’s recovery.

Tourism New Zealand is not the only tourism organization or brand in the Asia-Pacific region to restart its marketing campaign after almost three years of stagnation. From Australia to India, from the Philippines to South Korea, different boards and brands are once again busy with a series of marketing campaigns.

“Now that international travel has resumed, we’re ramping up our conversion-focused campaigns and increasing our sense of urgency,” said Brent Anderson, Tourism Australia’s regional general manager for South and South East Asia. “We’ve shifted our focus to brand and Partnership campaigns that will support fundamental aviation recovery and boost bookings with an engaging and reassuring tone.”

Tourism Australia has been working with airlines and distribution partners to enhance its conversion-focused campaigns. It also targets audiences who intend to travel beyond neighboring countries and have an interest in Australia, and those with a propensity to spend above average on travel.

For example, the council launched its third “Discover A Great Deal More” virtual tour of the region through May 15. Travelers can browse deals on flights, hotels, tour packages, car rental and exciting experiences across Australia, with hybrid travel valid until March 2023. Then, in Indonesia, Tourism Australia expanded its relationship with its banking partners, and in Malaysia, travel agency Apple Vacations launched its first post-pandemic group tours to Australia.


Elsewhere, the Philippine Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotion Council launched an outdoor, media and online campaign designed by BBDO Guerrero (see picture above), to promote the 10 top destinations in the market. The campaign highlights the reopening of these popular venues. Another campaign titled “Colors of Mindanao” highlighted the diversity of tourism offerings in the region.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore has pledged US$500 million to support tourism recovery (another US$1.5 billion has been pledged), led by its SingaporeReimagine campaign. The government is attracting tourists from all over the world, launching tailor-made marketing programs in markets like India and Japan to boost tourism in that market.

Eleni Sardi, brand director at TBWA Group in Singapore, noted that Singapore Airlines is already taxiing for take-offs for the tourism industry as early as October 2021, with the launch of the “Looking forward to seeing you fly again” campaign. More recently, the carrier has launched several tactical campaigns in digital media to inform international travelers about an expanded network and a reduction (and eventual cancellation) of its testing protocol.

“We’ve been using SIA’s Facebook and Instagram channels to inspire our passengers in a number of ways – whether it’s helping them reconnect with the things they love, or reliving the captain’s words to passengers ‘sit down, sit down, relax and enjoy Their flight’,” Sardi said.

Next door, Tourism Malaysia has started road trips to six cities in India and is also attracting tourists from Europe as it eases entry requirements such as testing and quarantine. The tourism board plans to run more than 100 promotional marketing campaigns this year and has revived its Malaysia Truly Asia tagline.

Three and a half years after launching the theme of Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”, Australia-based Qantas has opted to re-launch the song by reopening its borders. Starring high-profile Australians including Kylie Minogue, Ash Barty and Hugh Jackman, the Monkeys advert aims to inspire national pride in trying to reopen borders and highlights the joys of family and friends reuniting. mood.

Upper Funnel Demand

By contrast, Bart Buiring, chief sales and marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Marriott International, has been traveling the region for the past two months, gauging the pace of recovery and demand for hotel services in the region. “There’s clearly a strong pent-up demand for leisure and extended stay,” he said. “We’re moving our marketing more up the funnel—destinations and brand events to inspire travel.”

The hotel chain, which has nearly 700 hotels in the Asia-Pacific region, recently launched ‘Nouveaux Horizons’, the Le Meridien APAC brand campaign starring supermodel Barbara Palvin, and expanded its Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy events in the area. They spent their money post-pandemic, and we’re seeing the impact of travel resonate across demographics,” Buiring added.

Ber Han Ong, senior account manager at Dentsu Media Group in Singapore, said that as the situation has evolved, branding and content have played a vital role since the borders opened. “The path to conversion … relies heavily on research, especially entry requirements or new attractions in destination countries over the past two years,” he added. “As a result, the marketing mix is ​​now more around branded content and working with direct partners for local relevance.”

Switch to upbeat language and content

Marketing and agency executives argue that the travel and hospitality industry needs to change its language and focus quickly for this renaissance to last. “Tourists want to be welcomed in these places, not reminded of the difficulties of the past two years,” said Anish Daryani, founder and president of M&C Saatchi Indonesia. “They want an upbeat campaign.”

However, it may be too early for the travel industry to be overly optimistic about their marketing strategies in Asia Pacific. On the one hand, major markets such as China continue to be shut out by international tourists, while other markets such as Japan are yet to open to tourists and Thailand is still recovering from the pandemic.

Support industry

Tourism New Zealand’s Chen argues that marketing from her employer and other boards in the region also needs to support the devastated industry before the blatantly optimistic campaign can be reignited. “We need to re-educate and re-energize many industries that have faced challenges over the past few years,” she explained.

Elsewhere, Tourism Australia’s Anderson said the agency was continuing to strengthen its network of “Australian expert” operators.

“As the shift leads the recovery, we see the role of agents in supporting and providing confidence to consumers to travel again as a key strategic priority,” he added. A long-term recovery in inbound tourism is critical.”

In addition to supporting the rebuilding of the travel ethos and infrastructure in these markets, industry watchers believe consumers are becoming more conscious and cautious about their travels.

According to a recent Booking.com study of 30,000 travelers across 32 countries, 88% of Thai travelers say they want to travel more sustainably in the next 12 months, up from the company’s 2021 Year results increased by 10% data. With travel steadily picking up, more than two-thirds (67%) of Thai travelers say the sustainability efforts of accommodation and transportation providers play an important role in their property and transportation decisions.

Meanwhile, Marriott’s Buiring said the chain’s guests continue to make hygiene central to their vacation plans as the pandemic has yet to subside.

“While we are advancing our marketing execution, the situation is still dynamic and we remain focused on local conditions,” he said. “Our hotels are committed to the highest levels of safety and hygiene. We … continue to be very optimistic about the tourism outlook for the region.”





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