With Spain leading the ranking of travel intention of Europeans, how to take advantage of this situation to ‘save’ the tourist season of this uncertain 2021? Europe, through the European Travel Commission (ETC), highlights several opportunities for the sector. It does so following the results of its survey carried out in January, which reflects the intention of European travelers for the coming months.

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Tips for tourist destinations

At the expense of knowing the restrictions in force during the coming months, the ETC establishes several recommendations for tourist destinations to come out of the season this year.

  • Given the importance of COVID-19 vaccines for decision-making when traveling, destinations should monitor the launch of the vaccine in the countries of the market of origin and target the priority groups that have already received it ( that is, mature travelers).
  • Increasing confidence in air travel should prompt destination authorities to extend their marketing efforts to medium-haul markets and the countries of origin that are most dependent on flights. At the same time, they recommend developing synergies with airlines and hotels for co-branded marketing campaigns.
  • Europeans are concerned about their personal health during their experience at the destination. For this reason, local promotion agencies should implement campaigns to sell peace of mind. These have to equally cover transportation, attractions, restaurants and cafes, as well as accommodation.
  • The 35-44 age group is more likely to travel. For this reason, destinations are recommended to highlight the elements aimed at families, such as parks and open spaces, where family tourism can spend time safely. They also recommend to the tourist promoters of the destinations to disseminate on their websites about tourist routes that are worth exploring by car.

Recommendations for businesses in the sector

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  • Because older people across Europe have a high priority for vaccination, companies and travel agents should target this age group (over 55). For this, it is recommended to promote suitable products (such as culture and heritage), with a strong emphasis on health and safety.
  • With more than a third of respondents planning to travel in May-July 2021, companies should start preparing and promoting sun, beach and city break experiences. However, as many Europeans remain unsure of the viability of their travel plans, flexible booking terms and cancellation policies are a must.
  • Service providers can extend flexibility beyond cancellation policies, in terms of payment. Through fees, subscription models, rewards or bonuses for food and beverage points of sale or additional discounts for referring ‘friends’.
  • In view of the fear of transmission of the virus in restaurants and cafes, owners must win the trust of travelers by strictly implementing health and safety protocols and highlighting these measures in their promotional campaigns.

Two last tips that emerge from the data in the ETC report: take maximum care of social networks and digital channels. European travelers consider hotel websites and their social media presence increasingly important when planning their trip.

Lastly, don’t underestimate the health and safety protocols at the destination. These are welcomed by more than two thirds of European travelers. This majority of respondents say that they feel much more secure knowing that their health is one of the main concerns of the destination.