The travel industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are signs, in Asia-Pacific at least, that things are starting to look up.

“In markets across APAC where quarantine and lockdowns have been lifted, we are seeing search and booking intent increase,” according to Katy Gallagher, APAC commercial director for digital travel marketing solutions provider Sojern.

She told a recent Web in Travel Virtual panel that there have been upticks seen in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and China. “Consumers are extremely hungry. We are all hungry to get back and travel,” she said. (For more details read WARC’s report: Keeping travel alive in APAC: Three brands getting it right.)

Giving consumers peace of mind will fuel recovery in the region – which requires businesses to be extra sensitive towards consumer concerns, even before they make their bookings.

“Brands have to understand how to make the brand sexy while using hygiene as the number one forefront of their messaging,” Gallagher advised.

“Consumers have all been locked up for so long,” she said, “it’s going to take us a while to get comfortable. We need to have that peace of mind when we are putting the creative and content together.”

As well as being in the market with an empathetic message, Gallagher added that, “It’s important that we don’t rely on history, but go out and find today’s customers, because it’s not yesterday’s customers.”

APAC’s mobile-first consumers are changing, which points to the need for brands to review mobile-first strategies of the not-too-distant past. “What we have seen now, with the quarantining, is that everyone’s gone back home, so now they spend a huge amount of time researching on desktop,” she explained.

And with Netflix’s 115% surge in consumption as Southeast Asia lockdowns went into place, connected TV has become a good way to target consumers.

“This is an incredibly engaged audience,” Gallagher said. “It’s important that we are finding the customers on the right platforms.”

Last week Group, China’s largest online travel agency, reported some bright spots amid the gloom, including tourist numbers for the Labour Holiday in China being double those for the Qingming Festival in April.

In the short term, the group intends to focus on the China market, including converting erstwhile international travellers into high-end domestic customers.

Sourced from WARC, Skift