Making a difference in #travel – Three must-haves on every travel brand’s 2024 itinerary

Holiday-ing is different now, and brands need to follow suit! Uncover three must-haves on brand’s checklists for 2024.
16 April 2024

Brand Guidance Consultant


Client Director

There’s probably no category more disrupted than travel in recent years, with brands constantly adapting to external uncertainties while undergoing internal transformation at pace to suit the evolving ways travellers want to engage with travel brands.

Holidaying is different now … and brands need to be too! 

We often say that Difference Makes the Difference but what does that really mean and how does it apply to travel. With Easter Holidays upon us and summer holiday planning in full swing - these are some key moments when we can make a difference! 

Difference is the perception of being relatively different to your competitors and being perceived as leading the way. This is crucial in travel, a category in which decisions are few and emotional needs are often high. Difference encompasses both the tangible unique offer you bring and the intangible feelings and emotions you align with. Successful brands create memories which separate their brand from others.

Airbnb for example has monopolised Difference within #hotels and accommodation, and whilst a selection of established reliable brands have strong meaning, there’s a whole host of players sitting in a relatively undifferentiated space. This leaves a lot of brands fighting for bookings – business as usual simply isn’t working; and there are plenty of brands who should be looking to find that Differentiating spark that offers something that the others cannot.

Source: #KantarBrandDynamics - February 2024

Not only does Difference make your brand stand apart but it is a powerful profit-driver. #KantarBrandZ data reveals that it makes your brand worth paying more for and reduces price elasticity. With revenues within travel set to continue to increase, this difference could really make a difference!

Source: Kantar BrandZ

So, what three ‘must-haves’ can help travel brands achieve Difference?

1. Understand what’s Different in your category

Keeping a finger on the pulse as things change is essential for travel brands to stay in the race for the brand people choose to use. Having clarity on what’s different, as it happens, is key so you can identify new brand opportunities, fast! We’ve seen big changes in the hotels and accommodation landscape and the travel market is still evolving quickly.

As we move beyond post-covid ‘escapes’, travellers’ needs for variety and confidence is building and their behaviours maturing.  They are now searching online more with 29% growth in branded search in the last two years and we’ve also seen an increase in the need for solo travel with a 44% more ‘solo’ online searches in travel.

Keeping up with and understanding how needs are changing and what’s different now is key.

2. Ensure you are Meaningfully Different 

We know that brands that are strongly meaningful, different and salient achieve five times the commercial brand value growth vs. brands who aren’t (Source: Kantar BrandZ).

It’s more than right location and price. If you’re able to build your Meaningful Difference, it’s truly a win win, as more people will:

• Search for you first and work harder to choose your brand
• Be less influenced by what your competitors are saying
• Be willing to pay a bit more for your brand
• Say good things about your brand to others
• Be more forgiving if they have a bad experience

And not only that, underpinning brand choice with a strong desire to choose, secures much longer-term resilience than simply focusing on short-term sales levers.

Jet2 and Tui have successfully grown market revenue and resilience by strengthening their competitive Meaningful Difference and predisposing more people to choose their brands. 

Source: Kantar BrandDynamics March 2024

They have achieved this by seamlessly fitting well into people’s lives, understanding the ease travellers need around holiday choices and building their meaningful difference …

  • Tapping into the increased need for packaged #holidays and the need for add-ons, but also connected with emerging needs like solo travel and last minute. 
  • Providing clear transparency around what you’re getting for your money simply and confidently, so important during these times of economic uncertainty
  • Successfully unlocking the emotion around holidays, confidently their way and communicated this powerfully to travellers.  

Tui’s Christmas greeting is a great example of emotional resonance, hitting our emotional need for escape and fun just at the right time in the frantic run up to Christmas. It was a celebration of holidays away from the boss and a blessing of Happy Holidays at Christmas. This gravitas, before the post-Christmas competitive travel hustle, gave them a head-start when communications and booking behaviours took off after Christmas.  

Source: TUI

3. Be Consistently Different 

Brands are built gradually, by building associations and memories in step-by-step increments. If you reinforce consistently why you’re different or what sets you apart in relevant ways to people across everything you do and all experience people have with you, these experiences build into long-term beliefs about your brand, that support strong, resilient predisposition and long-term choice for your brand.     

Take Emirates for example, they reinforce their strong Difference through their consistent communcation of premium quality and customer care for in-flight experiences across all touchpoints and experiences. 
Source: Emirates

And easyJet project their fun, free-spirited exploration well across different touchpoints across the journey to purchase and in-flight experiences.
Source: Easyjet

If your customers are dreaming of last-minute Easter holidays, solo breaks for Summer or early planning for Christmas make your Difference matter and work well for you for enabling success in 2024 and beyond!

#TravelWithConfidence #Travel #TravelMarketing #DigitalAdvertising #Holidays