Traveler journey is an important factor to help tourism businesses capture the emotions and behaviors of potential customers. Especially, in the context of Covid-19 changing travel habits in the world, capturing the changes in traveler journey will help tourism businesses understand more deeply travelers’ needs, thereby optimizing the effectiveness of their approaches and providing more complete experiences to travelers.
Traveler journey can be divided into 5 main stages:
The first stage of traveler journey is when travelers pop up a desire to travel. Inspiration for the idea of traveling can be inspired by friends’ sharing about a trip on social media, beautiful pictures of a destination, or by a desire to relax or do something new. At this stage, travelers have not yet identified specific factors such as means of transport and accommodation for the trip, but mainly seek inspiration to visit certain destinations.
In the unique context of Covid-19, travelers’ top priority when choosing a destination is safety measures and information about travel restrictions at the destination. Many destinations are still closed to international travelers, even domestic, or only welcome a very small number of travelers to ensure safety. Therefore, information about safe destinations is important in travelers’ decision-making process in the present context.
Once the decision of traveling is made, the next stage is planning the itinerary. It is time for travelers to explore, search for and compare airfares; read reviews, watch photos, check hotel availability, hiring vehicle cost and activities at the destination. Therefore, the availability and update of the above information are important to travelers. This is a proper time for tourism businesses to reach out to travelers and encourage their choices of the brand.
If before Covid-19, prices and experiences were the factors that travelers concerned about most when planning their itinerary, in the current Covid-19 situation, travelers pay more attention to safety measures which are applied onboard, at the hotel and when they participate in activities at the destination. According to research by Travelport, more than 70% of respondents feel that enhanced cleaning measures at hotels, improved filtration and disinfection on planes are “very important” when deciding to travel.
After considering the options and making an itinerary, travelers have made decisions about the destination, the airline or car brand, the hotel brand, … and then travelers make bookings. At this stage, travelers can choose to book directly on the airline and hotel websites or on an OTA platform after comparing prices between brands. The convenience, speed, and ease of use of booking websites are factors that travelers prioritize to choose a booking platform.
In addition, the new priorities of travelers when traveling during the Covid-19 period are travel insurance, flexible refunding and cancellation policies, and flexible itinerary options. The epidemic situation is still complicated, so unexpected situations, such as the destination or the hotel can be closed, the flight can be canceled, are factors that make tourists afraid and do not want to risk if there is not assurance for their finance.
After booking, travelers are often looking forward to the upcoming experiences. Even though they have planned the trip, they usually do not stop search for more information about experiences at the destination before departing and throughout their trip. Travelers can completely change their decisions if they find something more interesting. Thereby, travelers still need information about specific experiences at the destination, restaurants, recommendations, and reviews from previous travelers or travel tips for complete experiences.
Especially, unexpected changes caused by Covid-19 might happen, travelers need more real-time and accurate information about the situation at locations relevant to their itinerary than ever before. Updating information and instructions for travelers will help them feel secure throughout their journey. Travel businesses can build better connections and customer loyalty through content that help them improve their on-trip experiences.
The last stage of the traveler journey is when travelers return their home with memories and emotions after the journey. It is the time for travelers to review their experiences, through online travel review channels, social media, or recommendations to their friends. Therefore, this stage plays an important role in the traveler journey because the travelers’ perceptions of experiences will influence their travel decisions in the future, as well as help tourism businesses enhance “word of mouth marketing” when travelers share their experiences.
Covid-19 has made huge changes in the traveler journey, which in turn will also affect the way tourism businesses approach and serve their customers. Part 2 of this topic will be about some notes to help tourism businesses build travelers’ confidence and reach out to them more effectively in the new traveler journey.