5 ways to communicate safety in holiday marketing

03/11/2017 By Jon Young

Many holiday destinations have been blighted with reputational damage from terrorism and unrest recently. We've seen the effects on visit intentions and destination perceptions in our own Holiday Trends study over the past couple of years.

So how can holiday destinations tackle safety fears? One way is to convey a sense of safety in communications.

Here are five ways holiday companies can convey safety in their marketing:

1) Strength in numbers

In his paper ‘Fear and Loving in Las Vegas’ Vladas Griskevicius demonstrated that when we are fearful, we tend to be influenced by marketing that conveys ‘social proof’ i.e. that other people are doing it.  It reassures us and reduces the risk factor. In the current climate, destinations can communicate ‘social proof’ in their imagery or by citing high bookings.

2) Lead with safety (if you have to)

If your destination is less well-known or associated with lack of safety, you may want to follow the example of the Czech Republic by leading with safety. This should probably be avoided if safety is unlikely to be an issue.  You may be priming people to think about safety when they otherwise wouldn’t have!

3) Be positive and familiar

Destinations should communicate the positive welcome and atmosphere they provide.  Behavioural research demonstrates that we respond more positively to things we have seen before (a key way branding works), so familiarity is also important.  This can include familiar imagery, brands and faces.

4) Make it easy

Our work in behavioural economics shows that when feeling fearful we will default to easy, trusted options. Complicated choices will create uncertainty and add to underlying feelings of fear.  Holiday providers should make the decision as simple as possible.  Hand-holding ‘from landing to leaving’ and information aids such as itineraries can aid the decision.   Travel agents, tour operators and tourist boards have a clear role to play here.

5) Use trusted sources

In Holiday Trends 2016 four of the top five influences on holiday choice are friends and family or travel agents.  At times of uncertainty the most influential sources are those we trust.   Credible travel agents and tour operators can get involved here.   Destinations should also encourage visitors to share and recommend their experiences on social media.

We hope you find these recommendations useful.  If you are interested in this topic you may be interested to learn more about how discounts may outweigh safety concerns.  There’s a lot more data in our Holiday Trends 2018 report.