As economic indicators improve and government shelter-in-place restrictions shift, there are signs pointing toward a new phase of recovery for travel and tourism. And with consumer sentiments toward travel gradually changing, it’s becoming more clear that travel and tourism’s recovery will unfold in waves.
With this in mind, we’ve broken down the recovery process into four phases and estimated timeline in a new interactive to help provide your destination with guidance and insight based on the current data. Currently, we’re in the Destination Maintain phase, where destinations are focused on connecting and engaging with communities. Some destinations, based on restrictions and local consumer activity, are shifting to the Destination Rebound phase, when they can begin to engineer thoughtful visiting friends and relatives (VFR), drive market and regional campaigns to leverage pent-up demand, and use paid media to amplify messaging tailored to safety. In the phase and seeking help as you build your program? Schedule a consultation with us.
Here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind as you transition into your rebound phase:
- Stay current on state and local policies. You don’t want to start marketing to an audience that can’t legally or safely engage with that action. You’ll want to compile and regularly update any relevant guidelines and hold them up to any copy and visuals on your website, email and social media to ensure that it aligns.
- Be mindful of the needs of each stakeholder group. Visitors, residents and partners will each have very different priorities. Take time to build out each of these groups and make sure that your efforts will address each without alienating any particular group.
- Support and strengthen relationships with your stakeholders. We have seen over and over again that frontline hospitality workers are truly the face of this crisis, and will be the face of recovery as well. These are the relationships that will help you access the authentic content needed to market your DMO, and ultimately will shape the experience that travelers will have when they visit. Ongoing, open lines of communication and collaboration will benefit everyone.
- Rely on data and prioritize consumer demand and behaviors. Your marketing efforts should not exist in a vacuum. Make sure that you’re constantly paying attention to social media feedback, online reviews, and current data about consumer behavior so that you can tailor your messaging. Without this feedback loop, you risk appearing tone deaf.
- Develop and refine multiple scenarios and strategies. As healthcare professionals, government officials and community leaders continue to unveil new guidance and even findings about the virus itself, you’ll want to use due diligence in terms of establishing a strategic plan based on how your incoming regional, then national, and finally international travel begins to open up.
- Start small and ramp up. A/B tests will be your friend! Begin with a smaller, lower-risk investment and see how it resonates before rolling out broadly. This is definitely a period of time when airing on the side of caution can play to your benefit.
Things have shifted and consumers feel vulnerable and nervous about travel. Your target audience will evolve and change in these new times, and DMOs will need to adapt. Focus on the factors that motivate travelers to create a more loyal audience. It may seem daunting, but with the right tools, the right planning, and the right messaging, destination marketers can use these recent changes to deliver more meaningful experiences for travelers.
If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording, or view the slides to learn more. As always, reach out to our team if you’re interested in a consultation to adjust your strategy going forward.