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5 travel themes to promote for vacation season

While vacations may look different this year, find out what key travel narratives and fashion trends to promote this year.
5 travel themes to promote for vacation season | EDITED

With international travel in 2020 devastatingly impacted by the global pandemic, falling cases and the vaccine rollout bring hope of a brighter summer ahead. We breakdown the top getaways and how to promote them within your communications. 

Reach out to a dedicated retail specialist to get a demo on how your business can use retail data to tap into the opportunities for this new way of vacationing. 

The staycation

Why it's important

2020 was the year of the staycation as COVID-19 limited international travel. While 2021 brings optimism for beach getaways, domestic vacations are set to remain in high demand. UK travel firms are witnessing record interest, with some recording over 90% of available summer dates already booked up.

International travel may no longer be an option with inflated international travel prices expected for the 2021 season and the pandemic tightening purse-strings for many. Coupled with the on-going impact of Brexit and lingering COVID-19 concerns, staycations are preferable for the cautious consumer.

How to promote

Keep style edits casual as low-key activities come to the fore. Think backyard bathing, picnics in the park and walks in nature.

Layering pieces are essential in light of cooler domestic temperatures. Style lightweight shirts over swimwear and include slow-moving transitional outerwear options within your edit to revitalize them.

Tap into the growing nautical trend with a nod to the Great British seaside and classic striped edits, particularly for those with a mid and mature customer base.

The party seeker

Why it's important

The pandemic has restricted social contact and events in unprecedented ways. With hopes of normality come summer, many will look to book getaways with friends to let off steam. Several venues in Ibiza are already announcing dates for their opening and closing parties. Younger consumers will be a particular focus here as many teenagers and students were hit hard in terms of their education and missing out on classic post-school vacations and gap year adventures. Bachelor/stag and bachelorette/hen parties may also be back on the cards with weddings back to full capacity come June in England. While there is optimism, keep tabs on the evolving situation within European party hot spots such as Ibiza and the Balearic Islands.

How to promote

Edits should be bold and bright to reflect the lively spirit of these vacations. Neons are shining both on and off the runway and are a classic palette choice for womenswear. After a year of loungewear, consumers will be excited about the prospect of dressing up once again. Include style edits for different events, ranging from the beach to the club. As with festivals, the situation is volatile and could change last minute. Ensure products can work across both edits for a safer investment and be prepared to work into other communications if necessary. Hold back on novelty items this year and promote summer pieces within twinning style stories instead.

The retreat

Why it's important

Wellness tourism is a booming market with Technavio estimating growth of $315.47 bn USD during 2020-2024. With self-care rising in importance throughout COVID-19, consumers will prioritize personal wellness and seek a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday, propelling retreat-style vacations into popularity. Google searches for "retreat" have increased since January in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

Wild swimming and yoga are key activities under this theme. Both had an uptick in participants over the past year due to their calming and restorative benefits. Pursuits that offer a digital detox will be in demand as consumers seek escapism and a way to unwind from days spent on Zoom. Spa breaks and traditional relaxing beach trips are of note here.

How to promote

Spotlight comfortable, loose clothing in lightweight fabrics such as linen for those on a yoga retreat or spa break. Oversized shirts should be pushed as layering items, while loungewear can still be promoted to wear in cooler evenings. Tap into the zen nature of this holiday with clean imagery and neutral color palettes. Sustainability should be a notable narrative within communications - ensure eco-friendly vacation lines are at the fore, especially for swimwear.

Push yoga apparel and swimwear that holds a sporty look suited to wild swimming. Consider incorporating the bathleisure aesthetic to emulate a spa story. Hero trends here include bathrobes, statement towels, chain necklaces and sliders.

The active goer

Why it's important

The shuttering of gyms in 2020 provoked a newfound adoration for the outdoors as a means to remain active. Consumers will continue seeking out adventure, spanning new hobbies like surfing and climbing to nature-filled hikes and camping. Improving mental wellness is a massive benefit gained from an activity-based holiday. Hiking or cycling provides an opportunity to disconnect from technology and appreciate one's surroundings.

Feeding into Gorpcore aesthetics, several outdoor brands, such as The North Face and Patagonia, have achieved cult status and heavily influenced mass market trends. Whether for fashion or function, demand for activity-based apparel is on the rise.

How to promote

Call out any technical features within products conducive to an active lifestyle such as breathability, weather-resistant or lightweight properties. Layering stories are essential to prepare for all variations of climate conditions. Feature high summer assortments for hot-temperature holidays and fabrics like fleece to accommodate chillier weather.

Highlight the ability to transition styles from one activity to the next or demonstrate ways to wear during day-to-day life as well. Multipurpose pieces present another reason to buy, especially for the more budget-conscious consumer.

The Winter Sun Getaway

Why it's important

For those who are planning trips abroad, a cautious approach with timing is being taken; travel deals app HolidayPirates revealed that October is the most popular month for bookings from UK customers.

Winter sun getaways in the latter end of 2021 and into early 2022 are likely to rise in importance, as some customers will prefer more certainty around travel regulations. This period is also a significant time for ski trips - a holiday that has mainly been put on pause over the pandemic.

How to promote

Use the story to promote remaining high-season lines, giving them another chance to sell through. Typically a more expensive vacation, promote luxe and higher-ticket items with bold prints and colors in focus. Offer customers a sense of escapism with your communications as the cold weather sets back at home.

Consider pushing ski vs. sun edits to incorporate a breadth of products in communications. If you don't stock specific ski lines, feature winter wear that can double up, such as knitted headbands and thermal tops.

While June 21st is the date set for a return to normality in England, circumstances will differ between countries. Bear in mind the dynamic nature of the situation and how it can change last minute. Keep on top of travel restrictions and for retailers with an international customer base, tailor your vacation communications per market to consider local rules. 

Contributions by Venetia Fryzer, Katharine Carter and Krista Corrigan. 

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