Where Do We Go From Here? Travel and Tourism Marketing in the Midst of COVID-19

March 17, 2020 Dan Holowack
 
This last week has been unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. Rafat Ali from Skift eloquently said that travel is the most consequential industry in the world and we have witnessed this firsthand as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic settles in.
 
The question on everyone’s minds today is “where do we go from here?”.
 
As active participants in and providers to the travel and tourism community, we too have been exploring ways to support our customers, community, and friends.
 
Over the last week, we have been watching and listening to how our 850+ travel and tourism customers are responding to this — brands large and small, from one-person DMOs to large tour operators.
 
The reality is that there is no easy solution or one-size-fits-all answer. Industry leaders such as Destination Think and MMGY have provided some truly useful and thought provoking advice.
 
Our team has also come together to provide some additional ideas and inspiration that relate to marketing, and more specifically, digital marketing and social media. 
 
Here are some ideas of what you can do today:

1. Be a trusted source of up-to-date information

DMOs have long been a trusted source of information for travelers. The coronavirus doesn’t change that. 
 
Keep your website up to date with the latest travel information as well as any details on what is open, etc.
 
The teams at Louisville Tourism, Destination BC, and Augusta Tourism are three examples of DMOs that have created a dedicated page on their website that does just that. 
 
tourism marketing COVID-19_DBC

2. Share content that meets health advisory guidelines

Around the world, residents are being asked to follow social distancing guidelines to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. These guidelines vary from country to country and are being revised day by day, and in some cases, hour by hour.
 
With a little creativity, you can share content from around your destination while complying with guidelines that will keep your community safe:

1 | Livestreams from local venues that allow people to hear performances, view museum artifacts, or stroll through a park from the comfort and safety of their homes. 

Check out this amazing example from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago: 

2 | Profiles of local businesses that can be supported virtually through gift certificates, takeout, and memberships. 

 

3.  Keep your brand “lights on” using organic channels

We are hearing that many brands and destinations are reducing or pausing their ad spend right now but wanting to keep top of mind with travelers who may be planning future trips. 
 
The best way to do this is by creating content that can be for organic channels like your blog and social media. For example, you can continue to regularly post beautiful visuals of your destination captured by locals and visitors. 
 
 
You could also highlight the stories of how your community is coming together, from profiles of generous residents to people helping to maintain essential services like grocery stores, pharmacies, and healthcare.

4. Start planning for an eventual recovery

The current restrictions on travel have not quenched people’s desire to explore the world. People will continue to want experiences locally and globally that satisfy their need to explore new vistas, visit historic landmarks, and experience other cultures.  
 
This was the case after the SARS epidemic, when travel surged in 2004. 
 
We are hearing from some destinations and travel businesses that they are using this time to prepare for the eventual recovery, in both the leisure and business travel markets. 
 
Review insights from past campaigns, gather assets such as visuals and past reviews, and start preparing the content so that when things start looking up, you are ready to share your stories with your audiences.

We’re in this together

One thing this crisis has brought home is that the travel and tourism ecosystem is tightly interconnected - airlines, tour operators, museums, and accommodations are all part of what makes the travel experience to a destination.
 
This interconnectedness is deeply embedded into our DNA at CrowdRiff. One of our core values is “we are in this together.” This extends beyond our employees to the people of the travel and tourism industry — our customers, partners, and community. 
 
We know many of you are experiencing great turmoil right now, and our team is bringing our best minds together to help in whatever way we can. 
 
We believe in the resilience of this industry. We know the future will be brighter. We will be with you every step of the way. Together, we will make this happen.
 
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