Encourage customers to book as soon as they return, says Cosmos chief executive Giles Hawke

I’ve just returned from a family holiday in France, where we camped and visited friends who moved there 20 years ago.

Leisurely morning breakfasts, walks and cycle rides, long lunches, afternoons on the beach, and wrestling with the Atlantic Ocean’s boisterous waves, followed by a couple of early evening drinks and a delicious but simple dinner each day, meant relaxation was a key part of the break.

Having children aged between 11 and 15 years old, it was also helpful for us to have almost no phone reception, making Snapchat and Instagram almost inaccessible. We talked, played cards and Bananagrams, and reconnected with each other. It sounds idyllic and, quite frankly, it was!

It also made me realise how important our industry is. We give couples, families and friends the chance to reconnect, spend time together, have fun, and stop thinking about their day-to-day concerns. They can focus on the here and now and enjoy what is happening in the moment.

Emotional benefits

The travel industry needs to work on focusing on holidays’ restorative and emotional benefits, rather than their price. This is the time of year when many people will be returning to work and school after having had some fantastic holiday experiences.

After a few days or weeks away from the humdrum of ordinary life, they may be feeling a bit blue about going back to reality. But they will still be reflecting on the great time they have had and how restored, refreshed and reconnected they feel.

This warm, post-holiday glow lasts different lengths of time for different people. For most, it lasts a little while after they get back, so this should be the ideal time to tap into that glow and get them thinking about their next trip. At the end of most holidays, most people won’t be thinking about the money they have spent, but about how they feel and how to recapture that feeling.

Holiday triggers

We have all heard that British consumers now regard a holiday as a necessity rather than a luxury. There are many great marketing professionals who will know how to do this far better than I can, but understanding why they think this and tapping our messages into their needs has to be our opportunity to really make a difference in persuading people to book early and start getting excited about their next dose of restoration and recuperation – and to maintain that warm glow until they next go away.

For example, my family has begun to focus more on what we want to do while on holiday and then choosing the destination, rather than saying: “Let’s go to…” Even though I work in the industry, I’m often looking for inspiration – I have to admit we have returned to the same ski resort for the past 10 years (and the same apartment for nine of those).

Good travel professionals will therefore be encouraging customers to book their next trips as soon as they return, by listening to what they really enjoyed, what triggers their holidays pulled and what they might want to do next. Suggest the right experience at the right price and you will secure your next booking.