The Language That Welcomes Consumers Back to Travel

Want a getaway? You and everyone else on planet Earth. Unfortunately, Mars is not yet…

Want a getaway? You and everyone else on planet Earth. Unfortunately, Mars is not yet a viable vacation destination. But that’s not stopping travel and tourism brands from supplying unbeatable vacation packages for the trips customers have been planning since 2019.

But let’s get real—the pandemic years were (still are?) an emotional roller coaster. And not a fun one at Disney World. So, how are hospitality companies positioning vacations these days? And what can we learn about language used during the pandemic?

For the love of travel … and data

Before breaking down travel language, let’s go over some contextual housekeeping terms. The human brain is fascinating. Figuring out what language triggers a response makes for successful messaging, and data can support that discovery. Persado uses motivational components like emotion, description, functionality, formatting, narrative, positioning and calls to action to create compelling content that improves conversion consistently over time. Ok, enough with the nuts and bolts. Let’s nerd out on language stats!

Persado builds on the world’s largest data-driven knowledge base that houses millions of tagged words and phrases. Our language tags and motivation categories inform our AI algorithm, breaking down motivation into categories like:

  • Attention: alerting the customer to the importance of the message
  • Intimacy: addressing the customer in a way that is familiar
  • Achievement: praising or rewarding the customer for an accomplishment
  • Gratification: incentivizing by highlighting the value the customer receives

Over the span of 2020 and 2021, Persado analyzed the key words and phrases that impacted the hospitality industry. In our analysis of 11 travel and hotel brands, we discovered that customers shopping for travel took notice or action when messages were framed around the categories of achievement, attention and intimacy. Let’s dive into what that language looks like in practice.

Communicating a well-deserved break from reality

Turns out, headlines that motivate work wonders for vacation seekers nowadays. Our data showcases achievement messages, like the following, worked well for travel and hotel companies in 2021:

  • Take that trip – you deserve a vacation.
  • You scored this amazing deal on a trip to Paris!
  • Best road trip ever, earned.

It comes as no surprise that language mapped to attention was also high on the list. This feels intuitive given that travel and hotel deals are often time sensitive and action-oriented, but in 2020 and 2021, customers were craving more information. For example, messages that worked well include:

  • Heads up! You have a special deal on airfare incoming
  • FYI, here are some guidelines for your trip
  • Reminder: This deal on flights to Paris is still on!

Finally, intimacy was very important for travel consumers in 2021. Our data reveals that familiarity with the brand was important. Specifically, familiar comfort words like “welcome” appeared frequently in the top performing messages, like “Welcome back to travel.” The phrasing indicates an interesting measurement of customer response to loosening restrictions after the pandemic.

Travelers show a shift in sentiment in 2022

While 2021 saw achievement, attention and intimacy top the charts for best performing emotions that drive notice and action, 2022 adds gratification to the list for action, dropping intimacy down a peg.

This shift is interesting. While intimacy positions communications to customers with language that is familiar, gratification tells a story about incentives and monetary value. Some examples of this include:

  • You are getting a new offer on travel to New York
  • This hotel+airfare deal is yours to claim
  • We’re giving you 40% off car rentals until the Summer.

When getting the customer to take notice of the message, gratification underperformed, but it advanced to the top three emotions when getting the customer to take action. Messages that expressed value got more clickthroughs and booking conversions than before.

This could suggest that customers who had travel plans were more likely to book travel, click through on an email call to action or view a webpage if there was some kind of clear monetary value attached.

In promotional emails specifically, data revealed a 29% increase in promotional campaigns year over year (2020-2021) among the 11 travel and hotel companies evaluated. This could be attributed to the relaunch of travel safety campaigns in 2021.

While jet setting across the world may not yet be in the cards for all of us, brands can continue to make authentic connections with future travelers by using attention and intimacy in their messaging. What will the rest of 2022 hold for future travelers? As the world spins around its axis once more, we’ll have to wait and find out. The saga of the 2020 decade continues.