As borders open up, how are travel marketers taking advantage of pent-up demand? | Marketing

On May 2, New Zealand reopened its borders to 60 countries after nearly three years of being closed to the outside world due to the Covid pandemic. While the country has seen one of the most drastic border closures in the world, it has slowly reopened its borders after this forced hibernation.

Like many other tourist boards and travel brands around the world, Tourism New Zealand has found itself going back to the drawing board and increasing its marketing spend as borders reopen. It has spent the past two years trying to keep its tourist spots such as Milford Sound and Mount Cook fresh in the minds of domestic tourists, but in the past two months Tourism NZ has taken a more aggressive stance with its marketing strategy. .

“We used to focus on building a long-term brand when our borders were locked down,” said Venessa Chen, regional consumer marketing manager, Asia, Tourism NZ. Asia-Pacific Campaign. “We have now moved to short term demand generation as we have gradually reopened our borders.”

To do this, the travel board is now focusing on low-funnel activity to entice tourists to confirm their Down Under travel plans, and is spending significantly in key markets such as Australia (its largest source of tourists ), India and Japan. China, a key market for New Zealand, remains closed due to a surge in Covid cases, but Chen remains confident the market will open. “We think the recovery will be slow at first, but we expect the industry to grow quickly once the market stabilizes,” Chen added.

An example of low funnel activity is Tourism NZ working with airline partners to run tactical campaigns to drive conversions. It also activated its “Messages to Singapore” campaign activities in low-funnel media (scheduling and booking), digital media enabled by targeting and remarketing, and performance media such as search, review sites. travel and booking.

Chen said the tone and messaging used by the board has changed from “inspirational” and “emotional” to more CTA (call to action), fast-paced, and purpose-driven messaging. activity to entice travelers to start planning and booking. a holiday.

Prior to closing its borders in March 2020, Tourism NZ had a two-pronged approach comprising long-term brand building and short-term demand generation. Now that the borders are open, the organization’s immediate focus is short-term activation, aimed at spurring industry recovery.

Tourism NZ is not the only travel organization or brand in Asia-Pacific to resume marketing activities after an almost three-year lull. Across the region, from Australia to India and from the Philippines to Korea, different councils and brands are once again busy with a range of marketing activities.

“Now that international travel has resumed, we are increasing our conversion-focused activity and our urgency,” said Brent Anderson, Regional Managing Director, South and South East Asia, Tourism Australia. “We have focused on brand and partnership activities that will support essential aviation recovery and increase bookings, with an inviting and reassuring tone.”

Tourism Australia has stepped up its conversion-focused activities by working with airlines and distribution partners. It also targets audiences who intend to travel beyond neighboring countries and who have an existing interest in Australia, as well as those who have a propensity for above-average travel spending.

For example, the council launched the third edition of its “Discover A Great Deal More” virtual travel fair in the region which ran until May 15. Travelers could browse deals on flights, hotels, tour packages, car rentals and exciting experiences in Australia, with mixed travel validity running through March 2023. Then, in Indonesia, Tourism Australia extended its relationships with banking partners and in Malaysia, the travel agency Apple Vacations has launched its first group trip from Australia after the pandemic.


Elsewhere, the Department of Tourism and Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines launched an outdoor, print and online campaign designed by BBDO Guerrero (see picture above), to promote 10 leading destinations on the market. The campaign highlights the reopening of these popular places. Another campaign, Colors of Mindanao, highlights the diversity of the region’s tourist offer.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore has pledged $500 million to support tourism recovery (on top of the $1.5 billion already committed), led by its SingaporeReimagine campaign. The government is courting tourists from all over the world by launching tailor-made marketing programs in markets such as India and Japan to boost tourism in the market.

Eleni Sardi, Group Brand Director of TBWA Group Singapore, noted that Singapore Airlines began rolling for tourism take-off in October 2021, with its “Look Forward To Seeing You Flying Again” campaign. More recently, the carrier launched several tactical digital media campaigns, notifying international travelers of the network expansion and reducing (and eventually removing) testing protocols.

“We’ve used SIA’s Facebook and Instagram channels to inspire travelers in a variety of ways – whether it’s helping them reconnect with the things they love or reliving the classic in-flight experience of hearing the captain’s message. passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy their flight,” said Sardi.


Tourism Malaysia, next door, has already launched a six-city road tour in India and is also courting European tourists as it eases entry requirements such as testing and quarantine. The tourism board has more than 100 promotional marketing activities planned throughout the year and has relaunched its Malaysia Truly Asia slogan.

Three and a half decades after launching the theme “I still call Australia home” by Peter Allen, the Australian company Qantas has chosen the reopening of borders to revive this song. Featuring prominent Aussies including Kylie Minogue, Ash Barty and Hugh Jackman, this spot from The Monkeys aims to stoke both national pride at having successfully reopened borders and highlight the emotions around reunion of family and friends.

Upper Funnel Demand

By contrast, Bart Buiring, director of sales and marketing, Asia-Pacific, Marriott International, has spent the past two months traveling the region, assessing the pace of recovery and demand for hotel services in APAC. “There is clearly strong pent-up demand specifically for leisure and longer stays,” he said. “We are shifting our marketing to more upscale destination and brand campaigns to inspire travel.”

The hotel chain, which has nearly 700 properties in Asia-Pacific, recently launched its Le Meridien APAC “New Horizons” brand campaign featuring model Barbara Palvin and expanded its Good Travel with Marriott Bonvoy campaign in the region. they’re spending their money coming out of the pandemic, we’re seeing travel impact all demographics,” Buiring added.

As the situation evolves, branding and content play a vital role since the opening of borders, said Ber Han Ong, Senior Client Director, Media Group, Dentsu Singapore. “The path to conversion…is highly dependent on research, especially entry requirements or new attractions in the destination country during those two years,” he added. “As a result, the marketing mix now revolves more around branded content and working with direct partners for local relevance.”

Switch to optimistic language and content

Marketing and agency executives say the travel and hospitality industry will need to quickly change language and focus for this renaissance to continue. “Tourists want to feel welcome in these places and not be reminded of the hardships of the past two years,” said Anish Daryani, founder and chairman of M&C Saatchi Indonesia. “They want hopeful, optimistic campaigns.”

However, it may be too soon for the travel industry to be too playful with its Asia-Pacific marketing strategy. On the one hand, key markets such as China continue to be locked down for international tourists, while others such as Japan are not yet open to tourists and Thailand is still experiencing an uneven recovery from the pandemic.

Support the industry

Chen, of Tourism New Zealand, said her employer’s marketing and other councils in the region should also support the struggling industry before it can relaunch overtly optimistic campaigns. “We need to re-educate and reinvigorate a lot of our profession which has faced a few difficult years,” she explained.

Elsewhere, Tourism Australia’s Anderson said the company was continuing to build its network of ‘Australian specialist’ operators.

“With conversion leading the recovery, we view the role of agents in supporting and giving consumers confidence to travel again as a key strategic priority,” he added. “Driving demand to and through our partners in the market is essential for the long-term recovery of inbound tourism in Australia.”

Along with supporting the rebuilding of tourism spirit and infrastructure in these markets, industry watchers have also claimed that consumers have become more aware and cautious about their travels.

According to a recent study by Booking.com covering 30,000 travelers in 32 countries and territories, 88% of Thai travelers said they wanted to travel more sustainably over the next 12 months, which is a 10% increase from compared to what was revealed by the company in 2021. The data. As travel rebounds steadily, more than two in three Thai travelers (67%) said the sustainability efforts of accommodation and transportation providers play an important role in their ownership and transportation decisions.

Buiring of Marriott, meanwhile, said that with the pandemic yet to subside, the chain’s guests continue to put hygiene at the center of their vacation plans.

“As we move forward with our marketing executions, the situation continues to be dynamic and we remain mindful of local situations,” he said. “Our hotels are committed to the highest levels of safety and hygiene. We…remain very optimistic about the outlook for travel in the region.

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