In a bid to boost travel planning and bookings in the wake of the COVID-19 downturn, the U.S. travel industry has launched a united campaign to encourage people to start planning their next trips. The “Let’s Go There” campaign, which will extend into 2021, is the result of an industrywide collaboration of more than 75 businesses and organizations that are working to encourage travel planning.
During the official launch of the initiative, Roger Dow, U.S. Travel Association president and CEO, called the campaign the result of “months of work” by the various groups. “It's the biggest industrywide collaborative effort that I could think of since September 11,” he said, noting that after that disaster nearly 20 years ago, the industry launched a similar initiative to encourage travel again. That effort, he said, “was very successful.”
The goal of the campaign, said Brian King, global officer, distribution, revenue strategy, engagement centers, sales + services, Marriott International, is to generate interest and to get consumers in the mindset to think about planning travel—“but only when they're ready to do so,” he cautioned. “The messaging strategy carefully balances the need to emotionally inspire our wanderlust, that emotional need but the rational need to make sure that it is safe to travel when they're ready to do so. Our goal is to have them look and look forward into the future.”
To support and promote the campaign, Marriott will be showcasing Let’s Go There creative on the company's homepage, the Marriott Bonvoy mobile app, Marriott Bonvoy email programs and various social media channels. Marriott also is offering promotions to help guests plan for future travel and is maintaining a flexible reservations policy.
According to a survey conducted by Michelle Gielan, happiness researcher and founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research, 97 percent of respondents said that having a trip planned makes them happier, with 82 percent saying it makes them “moderately” or “significantly” happier. A full 71 percent reported feeling greater levels of energy when they had a trip planned in the next six months.
When asked if they agreed with these statements, 95 percent of survey respondents said, “Simply knowing there was something to look forward to would bring me joy;” 80 percent said, “Planning travel for some time in the next six months would bring me happiness;” 74 percent said, “Planning something would make me feel more in control amidst so much uncertainty;” and 96 percent said, “Getting to travel and feeling safe while doing it would bring me peace of mind.”
Restarting the Industry
The coalition acknowledged the need to maintain public health as the top priority, but also emphasized the need to restart the travel industry to help boost the economy. Travel supported employment for one in 10 American workers pre-pandemic, but more than one-third of those jobs (34 percent) have been lost since March.
In California alone, more than 600,000 hospitality workers are out of a job, said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “So the Let's Go There campaign is about supporting businesses [and] workers,” she said. To make sure everything is done safely, however, the campaign’s message has some variation. “In addition to Let's Go There, there's also Let's Go There Soon, created for regions that are not fully able to welcome visitors yet, but [will be] in the very near future.”
Other hospitality companies involved in the campaign are the American Resort Development Association, Disney Parks, Ecolab, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Loews Hotels and Sabre.