COVID – The Reunion Phase

As the vaccine rolls out globally, case numbers are dropping, airlines are preparing to reopen flight routes and have started selling tickets out of Australia for later in 2021, and just this week the Australian, NZ and Singapore governments have announced a move toward a quarantine free “green lane” between three of the best performing COVID control countries in the world which will open up cross-border travel between both countries. A very welcome first step to restarting international leisure and business travel.

Travel stories have moved from “wanderlust” (pandemic word bingo) and “armchair travel”, to the likes of “which destinations will open first”, “Trans-Tasman bubble”, “SE Asian bubble” and the like, which is slowly preparing this side of the world for the next phase of the pandemic, and one of the more hopeful ones we’ve seen. The reunion.

This phase will see the coming together of global families and friends after a full year of only seeing each other over zoom drinks, quiz nights, yoga and check ins. Grandparents have seen their grandchildren through unchartered technology. Families have celebrated and grieved through video together, and many versions of the plan around what will happen when the borders finally open have changed from early in the Pandemic. We’ve moved from wanting the world’s biggest party, to a more wholesome approach of just wanting connection, closeness and a long overdue hug from friends and family. Reconnection in a more meaningful manner that allows time for people to come together, and catch up on all the celebrations, moments of grief and milestones.

While the ache of missing family and friends is hard felt, the reunion phase goes deeper into the emotional state and physical need of people. It’s about getting a far under-appreciated freedom back. The freedom of travel. Wanderlust in real time.

It is the re-adjustment back into a global life that people have been building for decades but which was taken away in a week. All around this time last year.

Luxury travel experiences in Australia have been booked solid since internal borders started opening. Trying to get accommodation in a number of popular holiday spots has been like winning the lottery, where planning has become the new spur of the moment, made almost impossible by the changing border rules between the states.

The opportunity for international travel opens up an incredible opportunity for Australian businesses as well as travellers. For businesses, we can expect an influx of people who haven’t left the islands of Singapore and New Zealand in over a year. Whether returning expat Aussies, Kiwis or Singapore nationals, people will be looking for experiences and connection that has been lost for so long. If the timing is right, the Singaporean visitors will be looking for their first cool change in a long time and antipodeans can get a bit of heat mid-winter.

Across the board, accommodation, tourism and retail businesses will need to prepare for an influx of passengers. Companies will need to kick-start their cross-boarder communications strategies and start thinking about what the audiences across each of these markets will need to deliver value from the opening.

The reunion is about taking the newfound “work from anywhere” mentality into its truest meaning, actuallyworking from anywhere. It will be interesting to see how many holidays change to become “working-holidays”, where hotel rooms will become offices for shorter stays. But the idea of gaining some cross-cultural experiences beyond our own backyard just got more exciting.

There’s pent-up demand for travel, both in the leisure market and for business. The Australian government has also indicated the possibility for people from third countries to enter Australia via Singapore after completing a 14-day quarantine in the city-state, which in turn will bring even more people home after so long away.

Australian businesses have been geared up for domestic tourism, and now the opportunity is for the taking, to get in front of even more people. Messaging is going to be important. For messaging to resonate, companies are going to have to dig into the psyche of the different markets needs: safety, connection and experience.

For more information on how we can develop authentic messaging that will connect to brands to Australian consumers, please contact hello@themintpartners.com.au or call: +612 9280 2133.

Brett Galvin,
Director, The Mint Partners

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