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Travel portals look to woo travellers back this holiday season

Launch new campaigns, offers and strict adherence to Covid norms

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Mumbai: In the run-up to the year-ending holiday travel season, travel portals are looking to make the most of the opportunity. With the Covid cases on decline, companies in the sector are optimistic about business picking up pace. Travel advertising too is poised for rapid growth as brands look to reset their relationships with consumers after the great rupture of 2020.

Travel companies and online booking portals have launched several new campaigns signalling the return of the ‘wander lust’. Online travel brand Goibibo has rolled out its new campaign ‘Apna Rule Toh Full Vasool’, announcing ‘Daily Steal Deals’ for hotels and last-minute flight bookings on its platform. To bring alive the campaign conceptualised by MagicCircle Communications, the company released a series of digital films that are packed with relatable slice-of-life moments that talk about getting one’s ‘full paisa vasool’ under all circumstances, be it a toothpaste, a buffet or else then a travel deal!

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The pent-up demand for travel is expected to drive rapid growth in travel adspend over the next few years, but it will be a long road back to pre-pandemic spending. According to Zenith’s Travel adspend forecast published last week, the fastest growth in travel advertising is expected to come from India, where travel ad spend will be 31 per cent above the 2019 baseline by 2023. Globally, travel adspend will be still 33 per cent below its 2019 level this year, as per the Zenith report. It will take until 2023 for travel to exceed 2019 levels of spending, when it will reach $19.6 billion.

Even as wider acceptance of Indian vaccines and easing of international travel restrictions by countries has opened up more choices for Indian tourists, there is still a measure of uncertainty that continues to linger on when it comes to travel in the post-Covid era.

It is this anxiety associated with an uncertain or a cancelled trip that Make My Trip chose to address via its new TVC starring the delightful duo of Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt. The travel portal in its latest campaign ‘JoHogaWOWHoga’ aims to encourage travellers to plan, book and travel once again without any worries arising out of cancellation or hassle of refund claims.

Shot in a circus arena, the TVC has been smartly weaved around a Circus background that is synonymous to high risks and uncertainties –subtly depicting the times we have been living in over the past few months. With a humorous narration, the TVC communicates how users can book travel without worrying about additional cancellation charges in case of any last-minute changes in travel plans.

The 360-degree campaign ‘Sirf MakeMyTrip pe #JoHogaWOWHoga’ has been conceptualised by MagicCircle to convey how travel plans on MakeMyTrip can be worry-free yet rewarding. From a ‘100 per cent refund on last minute cancellations’ across its hotels and homestays, to introducing ‘Trip Guarantee’ feature to help travellers upgrade to an alternate travel mode in case of an unconfirmed train ticket, to making modifications to travel bookings in just a few taps on the app through My Trips–the campaign aims to communicate it all.

MakeMyTrip group chief marketing officer Sunil Suresh said, “As travel has returned in a big way and travellers are back with evolved preferences, the prospects of serving our customers with richer, flexible and comfortable travel choices have never been this exciting,” adding that the portal has “travel solutions for everyone and for any situation.”

Club Mahindra, the flagship brand of Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India also reached out to travel enthusiasts through its ‘Jaana Kahaan Hai’ campaign starring the ‘Shershah’ actor, Siddharth Malhotra. The campaign captures people’s desire to travel and explore new destinations and indulge in newer adventures in the new normal.

“There is an extremely strong desire to travel amongst people. They are eager to try new experiences and visit off-beat as well as unexplored destinations,” said Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India chief marketing officer Pratik Mazumder.

Along with leisure travel, the pandemic also brought virtually all of Business travel and the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions) sector to a standstill for most of 2020 and 2021. To build corporate confidence in biz travel, Thomas Cook launched its “Assured” Safe Travel Program that ensures travel safety protocols covering its distribution, delivery and partner touch points in the travel ecosystem.

Thomas Cook (India) Limited president & country head – Holidays, MICE, Visa Rajeev Kale said, “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, our focussed initiatives that included health and safety, have increased corporate confidence in MICE Travel. With increased demand for physical groups/events our pipeline for 2022 looks robust and our teams are all geared up to delivering truly exceptional programs to delight our MICE clients.”

It would be premature to assume we are out of the woods as new variants of the virus continue to emerge. Even as the domestic travel industry expects a surge in visitors as the year winds up, the government continues to review easing of foreign travel curbs in the light of the latest threat, necessitating all optimism to be accompanied with a note of caution.

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