Kuoni will return to highlighting special occasion holidays as it looks to gradually add tactical sales messages to its marketing.

The tour operator’s marketing director Dean Harvey said the brand would subtly and slowly begin reintroducing sales-related offers to its client emails over the coming weeks.

He said in the early stages of lockdown sales messages were switched off and “web stats fell off a cliff”. “No one was interested, and everyone was in hibernate and lockdown mode”.

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However, Harvey insists “green shoots” were emerging and consumers were venturing back to the website and were searching for travel once again.

As a result, next week’s digital output is a return to “Kuoni heartland”, Harvey said, with content focused on honeymoons, anniversaries and other special occasions.

He said sales messaging was “really delicate” and needed to be gradual. He explained that it was important to get the balance right to avoid a swell of negativity from consumers.

In Kuoni’s email to consumers last week, a link to a video of Kuramathi in the Maldives features at the bottom of the email, and in this week’s email the brand has added a “couple of offers right at the bottom of an inspiration filled ema.”. From then onwards, tactical sales messages will slowly move up on the running order of Kuoni’s emails, Harvey added.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast about marketing strategies, Harvey said all sales messaging had been switched off across social platforms as borders began to close last month. The tour operator’s communication and PR team took the reins of those social accounts for almost two weeks to ensure content was factual, with a “two-way dialogue” between the brand and consumers.

“As we went into this crisis the nature of our social media comms had to change,” he said. “We switched our platforms across very quickly. “

Harvey insisted that one month on, consumers were “thawing a little” and were now more receptive to soft marketing messages

Over the past two weeks Kuoni has released several videos on social media. The first focused on the brand’s people and efforts to repatriate travellers who were overseas when UK travel restrictions were enforced. It was quickly followed by another which Harvey says: “highlighted that now isn’t the time for travel but [Kuoni] gets travel and is very passionate about it so when the time is right, we will be there for you.”

A series of sound bites were then introduced as part of the Kuoni Moments campaign. Aiming to entice curious travellers, the clips don’t share the location featured but instead showcase map coordinates.

“If people are curious, and let’s face it people that travel are curious, they can find out where the place is from looking at the coordinates,” Harvey said.