20 May 2021 Business Insights

Why Communication is Key With Your Customers During the Traffic Light System

Travel is about to re-open again after the government gave the go-ahead just in time for the summer. It comes as a welcome relief for travel brands. The industry has had to navigate one of its trickiest periods ever, but it finally looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A traffic light system will be in place to determine the safety of going to each country. The decision to use the system has been met with applause among professionals in the travel industry, especially as brands can encourage customers to book their next trip.

However, many potential holidaymakers may find the traffic light system confusing or be reluctant to book a holiday, fearing a complicated process. That’s why it’s essential that travel brands provide clear and concise messaging that helps put their customers at ease.

Here’s how to do it.

Stop, wait, go 🔴🟠🟢

A recent YouGov poll shows that 66 per cent of people support the introduction of a travel light system, though it doesn’t mean they’re all ready to travel again. Further research from YouGov found that three in 10 Brits said they would feel comfortable travelling to another country immediately after a traffic light system was put in place.

Those numbers are actually quite low when taken at face value, even though there’s an expectation that demand for travel will soar in the coming months. Does that mean we’ve all been misguided, and there will be fewer people than first thought travelling?

With a further 60 per cent saying they would feel uncomfortable travelling right away, it would seem that summer holidays abroad might not be that popular in 2021. However, it’s important to look at these numbers with some context while appreciating the role that travel brands have to play in boosting consumer confidence.

Understanding the numbers 🔢

Many of those weary of travelling are somewhat confused by the new traffic light system. Therefore, it’s not their concerns about Covid that puts them off. Moreover, it’s their unfamiliarity with new rules and practices put in place.

As a travel brand, this is where you can provide transparency and reassurance. By dedicating resources to explain the new traffic light system, you can reassure customers while encouraging them to book their next vacation.

Communication is key, and it could be the difference between someone booking their holiday and waiting to leave it a bit longer. Of course, you don’t want to pressure them with sales-y messaging. Instead, the goal should be to educate your audience and make them feel comfortable about travelling again.

How does the system work? 🤷

The traffic light system brings with it testing and quarantine rules for each country. Countries listed as green will require holidaymakers to provide a negative Covid test days before and after arriving back in the UK.

The YouGov poll asked people how they felt about needing to provide proof via tests, and the results were mixed. Forty-eight per cent say that testing requirements aren’t worth the hassle of travelling to a green country. While 33 per cent think it’s worth the additional costs associated with fit-to-fly tests if it means they can travel.

When it comes to amber countries – where quarantine for 10 days on arrival in England and Wales is needed, plus a PCR test on days two and eight of quarantine – appetite further reduced. Only 15 per cent are keen to travel to amber countries.

Red countries still require people to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival, which comes with a hefty cost of £1,750. Therefore, it’s safe to rule out many of the red counties, as people will only likely travel to them if absolutely necessary.

What can travel brands do? ✈️

One of the easiest – and quickest – actions travel brands can take is to keep customers updated. Whether that’s through social media posts, emails, blog articles, etcetera, you can keep an updated list of which countries are green, amber and red.

You should also create content explaining how the system works and how people can go about booking tests or doing what needs to be done if they want to travel. It’s also important to update customers with any changes.

The government plans to review the traffic light system on June 28th, then again in July and October. Plenty can change in that time, so it’s vital that you communicate any new information with your customers, no matter how large or small the news is.

Monitor trends and keep up to date with customer insights 📈

The YouGov poll asked 13,500 Brits which countries they most want to travel to, with 23 per cent saying the United States. Around 19 per cent said Iceland, 17 per cent chose Ireland, 16 per cent went for Australia, and six per cent opted for Israel.

With the confusion over where people can travel and when they can do it, you will need to monitor people’s understanding of what’s going on. Doing so will help you refine your messaging while becoming an important voice on travel updates.

Strong communication paves the way 💬

Taking people’s travel sentiment and considerations into account can help restart travel on the right foot. And you can play a leading role in helping people feel confident about flying off to another destination again, even if they need to make extra arrangements to ensure they can travel.