When it became apparent that Covid-19 was going to have a long-term impact on the travel industry, the Dream Vacations marketing team had to literally start from scratch and create an entirely new marketing plan with a different focus, messaging and support. Director of Marketing Alicia Linden recently sat down for a brief Q&A about this shift in creative strategy.
- What does a typical day look like in the marketing department?
Our team supports agents by producing a wide variety of marketing assets that can be used to engage and connect with existing and potential clients such as sending weekly emails, lead generation contests, direct mail campaigns, social media posts, flyers and more. To ensure our agents maximize these resources, we also provide marketing training and tips.
- How has your team’s role changed as a result of Covid-19 and how have you had to adapt?
We had to adapt quickly and stay on the pulse of consumer trends and are continuing to do so. We re-targeted our strategy to focus on consumer needs, providing answers to their questions to comfort their concern and deliver joyful distractions. This new focus perfectly aligns with what travel is all about — an escape from reality, as well as the advocacy and support travel agents provide.
- How do you market travel when people are not traveling?
First and foremost, at the beginning it was important we did not go dark. We needed to be sensitive to the environment, so we paused promotions, sales and any messaging related to selling. Instead, we provided answers, information, policy updates, and more to remind customers that their travel agent is there for them and they should reach out. We then progressed to gradually introducing sales and product content in our marketing materials. We strongly believe in metrics and continued to monitor engagement and open rates to ensure the message being delivered was what our customers wanted. And it was. Engagement rates remained strong and our customers were thankful to receive the messages we were delivering them.
- What new marketing materials did you create as a result of Covid-19?
During this time, it is more important than ever before to provide agents with the right tools and messaging to stay engaged with their customers. All of our new marketing materials remind customers that our agents are here for them and provide educational content such as policy updates and tips on navigating through these uncertain times.
There were and continue to be so many questions and we want to ensure our agents are armed with the answers. In addition to sharing policy updates on all consumer websites and in email campaigns about cancellation policies and safety at sea, we clearly explained Future Cruise Credits and made it possible for customers to redeem them with the click of a button.
We also created Covid-19 specific marketing support including launching virtual cruise events, producing virtual travel guides, and designing travel-themed puzzles and activities to keep people inspired to daydream about their upcoming vacations.
- Where is the first place you will travel when you are able?
My husband and I had a Caribbean cruise booked with our 4-year old son that got cancelled. It was going to be his first cruise and he was so excited for it! We have already re-booked and can’t wait to take that cruise. My husband and I have been on dozens of cruises, but to see the joy from our son on his first cruise is something we simply cannot wait for!