As I sit here at my kitchen table writing this article, it’s hard to think that millions of people will be off on their hols anytime soon… or is it?
Having endured around 8 weeks of ‘lockdown’ it’s fair to say that many people are looking ahead to the time where they can move freely again or, whisper it quietly, even contemplate going on holiday. After all, there’s only so much home-schooling one can do before all thoughts to turn to escaping from the house.
Many parks opted to pause their marketing activity, including PPC, paid social media campaigns and email activity, once the lockdown measures were announced in early March.
As we know Government advice is changing constantly and the promotion of early summer holidays is no longer an option. After all, you don’t want to come across as irresponsible or misjudge the mood of your audience. Very few people will want to consider a holiday while the country is still very much in the grip of this crisis. However, the promotion of holidays later in the year and next year is very much on the table.
It’s fair to say that tourism industry in the UK has been one of the hardest hit from coronavirus. So, what we need to hear is some positive news about the months ahead, right? Well, our friends at Google might just be able to give us that, with data showing some green shoots of recovery.
In the days after Boris Johnson announced the lockdown measures, interest in UK holidays (across all sectors) was at a near all-time low. But, over a month later and interest is now on the rise again. With people at home, glued to their devices, some are perhaps starting to think about better times ahead, researching the best deals for a much-needed break away.
We used the Google Trends tool to look at the volume of searches being conducted in Google on broad holiday-related keywords – and nearly all were on the up.
The term ‘staycation’ hit is highest level of interest of the year in early April and is now averaging more searches per week than it was in January, which is traditionally one of the busiest booking periods of the year. See graph below
But it’s not all about squeezing every last drop out of the 2020 season, whatever that may look like in the end. It appears that, for thousands of people, thoughts are already turning to 2021 holidays (when the word coronavirus will hopefully be a distant memory).
While many parks will have already offered guests the chance to rebook for next year or moved bookings across to later in 2020, there is certainly going to be an opportunity to start marketing for 2021.
Google Trends shows us that searches for the term ‘2021 holidays’ reached its peak in April – more than double the figures for March – and much more than January and February. Similarly, searches for keywords such as ‘Cornwall school holidays 2021’ was also at its height just a few days ago. See graph below.
While there is no definitive right or wrong answer here, we feel that the time to start ramping up your activity is very soon. If interest in holidays both this year and next continues and the Government begins to announce a relaxation on travel restrictions, then there is a strong likelihood that customers will begin to have confidence booking holidays in large volumes again.
However, it is important that if you do plan to re-start your marketing activity then you should take a flexible approach to bookings. No one is going to part with their hard-earned cash for a 2020 holiday in the current environment if they feel they might lose their money, not be offered a refund or have their holiday moved to a time that doesn’t suit them.
Probably the best way to judge the mood is to trial some social media activity. It's one of the most cost-effective ways of speaking to your chosen audience - and can be a big driver of online bookingsRead More About Social
There are few more cost effective methods of marketing to the masses than email. Perhaps trial softer messages, rather than a heavy sales push and see if this sits better with your audience during these uncertain timesRead More About Email
When it's time to bring out the big guns and really push holidays, then PPC is a great option - if budgets allow. PPC will allow you to get your holiday park in front of people as they're searching, but beware - this is not a cheap option.Read More About PPC