I run a marketing agency that works with many brands in the tourism and travel industry. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I had to make major changes in how my company positions and approaches our clients' messaging (and mine as well).
The entire travel industry was affected by the pandemic. It was a real pain in the butt.
The pandemic caused a collapse in hotel bookings and airline reservations, as well as a complete halt to the cruise industry.
Many countries placed travel restrictions on their citizens, while others closed their borders completely.
Destination marketers faced a huge challenge.
Prior to the pandemic, tourist marketing budgets had been planned far in advance and campaigns were created annually.
However, it is now impossible to do so with so much uncertainty about the future of the travel industry.
Destination marketers need to understand Covid-19's current and future impact in order to thrive in today's environment. While there will always be questions, there are certain things that destination marketers can do in order to be the best prepared.
We'll have to live with Covid
Experts predict that Covid-19 will soon be available in additional variants.
Many countries are tightening their restrictions and some, such as Australia, have returned to lockdown mode.
Los Angeles has reintroduced the mandatory mask mandate. Other areas are following their lead.
It looked for a while like all was normal. Then, the variants started to emerge.It doesn't matter how horrible it may seem, Covid-19, and the challenges it presents to destination marketing, won't be going away any time soon.
It is likely that it will get worse before it gets better. It is essential to accept this fact in order to prepare marketing strategies and budgets.
Use the traveller wishes as a springboard
It is important to use the future traveler's thoughts and wishes as a marketing tool.
The consumer is tired of restrictions. Once things return to normal, traveling with fewer restrictions will be more popular, creating a new demand.
Businesses and brands who remain connected with their customers through the Covid-19 and pandemic challenges will be rewarded.
You can't simply stop all marketing activities during this time. This will cause a company to lose its customers.
More than that..there is actually less noise, and your potential customer is eager to bond with you.
Everything will get back to normal
No matter how difficult a situation may be, things will eventually get back to normal (or a new normal).
Travel was forever changed by the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City and we've been able to overcome it.
Travel industry was directly affected by the 2008 financial crash, which led to a collapse of the economy..but we're still here.
Destination marketers need to understand that things will eventually get back to normal with open borders and the possibility to travel around the world.
Clients need to be assured that, although revenue may have fallen to all-time lows due to the recession, when normal returns occur, the tourism industry will experience an unprecedented boom. Businesses must be consistent and active to make up the difference.
How should we communicate?
Health and safety should be top priority in our communications
Today it's vital to concentrate on building relationships, in order to drive massive bookings once everything gets back on track.
Market messages that emphasize safety and health resonate with consumers. They will naturally gravitate to businesses that share this message.
Prospects need to be reassured; focus on answering questions and concerns they might experience, and you'll win the race in a few months.