Under normal circumstances, many travel destinations around the world are highly popular and many of them, extremely successful at driving loyal guests. Same as with all the other areas of travel, however, destinations have recently taken a hit due to the ongoing pandemic and many aspects of this particular business have changed significantly.
At TrustYou, we are focusing our efforts on supporting various areas of hospitality and over time, we have developed feedback solutions that target travel destinations, as well as hotels.
For this installment of our “FAQ With An Expert” series, we talked to TrustYou’s own Key Accounts and Business Development Manager, Emmanuel Richter, and we asked him the most pressing questions about the current state of travel destinations, as well as the challenges they are currently facing and the possible solutions they could leverage for their recovery.
Manu, you are in constant contact with travel destinations from different countries and even continents. Did you notice a common factor that has had an impact on their performance and overall success, since the pandemic started?
The common point of impact was the rising need to find a better way to analyze and understand the new traveler behavior. We initially underestimated the length of the pandemic and many destinations didn’t realize that their previous traveler strategies should now be reviewed, as they have become obsolete in the current context.
Nowadays, it’s important to ensure that a destination is attractive and safe, and, most importantly, that they are ready to welcome their visitors.
What would you say is one of the biggest challenges in the industry right now?
After talking with DMOs, we could see that the most common "problem" is finding a way to collect more detailed and accurate information about the travelers visiting their destinations. Right now, in order to collect information such as gender, nationality, country, ratings, or even the amount spent during their visit - destinations hire external companies to go to airports or attractions and interview the people on site. These interviews only happen for a short period of time (one week or two) and/or in different times of the year.
However, it’s important to note that, now more than before, people are afraid to give information or details about themselves or their experiences to an unknown person (interviewer); most of the visitors don’t feel comfortable telling the truth about a negative experience to a local person, and, especially now, during the pandemic, people are more afraid to get in contact with strangers. As these interviews are done during specific times of the year and with a limited number of people, destinations are currently lacking an year-round overview of the guest satisfaction rates or the travelers details.
Which solution would you recommend for this particular challenge?
A customizable survey solution like the one we offer at TrustYou fits perfectly to their needs of gathering and analyzing valuable feedback from pandemic travelers. The surveys are easily accessible by QR codes placed in strategic places and by leveraging this easy strategy, destinations can decrease costs, avoid healthy issues by keeping communications contactless, and collect more information all throughout the year. Travelers also tend to feel more confident answering a questionnaire without having an interviewer in front of them and they become more open and honest with their answers and ratings.
What are pandemic travelers looking for in a travel destination? How does that differ from a regular hotel?
The new trend is based on local travel. Travelers are first looking for destinations nearby, preferring to travel to lesser-known areas rather than popular, crowded ones. Due to the cross-border travel restrictions that were put in place worldwide, travelers are rethinking their holiday calendar and choosing a short distance trip or changing international flights to national or local destinations. The COVID-19 pandemic has radically transformed consumer behavior regarding their travel desires and expectations; right now, the demand for travel is largely influenced by the destination’s health conditions and standards of medical care.
A regular hotel stay now implies that the staff has to implement contactless technology and new protocols regarding health and safety measures. When it comes to destinations, things tend to happen on a larger scale. Protecting the health and safety of travelers, as well as communicating and promoting all the cleanliness measures, is something that has to happen across the entire area of the destination, not just inside said hotel.
How is TrustYou supporting the recovery of the destination market?
TrustYou offers a vast range of services to travel destinations, but one of the most important ones right now is DATA.
Guest reviews are available in different languages and in hundreds of online sources, and one of the challenges that destinations face is the one of collecting, analyzing, and leveraging all this information in their marketing strategy. There is a need to collect tailored information of their consumers and to make decisions based on real and accurate data.
As an example, we enable an integration with our Analytics API that allows travel destinations to feed their BI software and create their own dashboard with the most relevant endpoints for their business.
I also previously mentioned our guest survey solution, which can help destinations to collect their own data, have a richer overview of their travelers profile and behavior, and analyze travelers’ expectations and their on-site experiences. The TrustYou guest surveys enable customizable, tailored questions that will support their marketing campaigns throughout the year.
What is your personal advice for travel destinations? What should they absolutely focus on this year?
The focus this year is definitely recovery, but before going into details I want to share a quote from Albert Einstein that says “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”.
I feel like this is very relevant to the times that we are currently living in.
Some destinations still want to use the same solutions and strategies for their problems, to collect the same information that might not be so relevant anymore for the “normal travel cycle”. This is no longer taking them to the place where they want to be because the journey itself has changed.
My advice for them would be:
Try something new - new paths can lead to to new destinations (pun intended)
Redesign and revise your strategy with new insights and clear data - the traveler behaviour and preferences have changed and your strategy must adapt to their new expectations
Understand the new traveler behaviour - constantly oversee and analyze the traveler trends
Set a minimum goal for your challenge - to understand if you are performing well, you need to have a target first
Test and learn - it’s a new context, a new face of travel, and we need to adapt to it as fast and as effective as possible
We started our “FAQ With An Expert” series back in 2020 and with so many dedicated and knowledgeable members on board, we are excited to continue it throughout this year. In every article, we interview TrustYou experts in order to shed some light on their area of expertise, as well as to enable them to share data, insights, and advice on the strategies that they implement to make our company work like a well-oiled machine.