How DMOs Are Reacting to COVID-19 (March 20 Roundup)

March 20, 2020 Julia Manoukian

There are no two ways about it—it’s an unprecedented time for everyone in the travel and tourism industry. 

Many have been wondering, where do we go from here? As active members in the community, we too have been wondering this, and how we can play our part in supporting our customers and the travel community at large.

One point that has come up a lot in our conversations with DMOs large and small is that they’d like to see more examples and ideas of how others are operating during this time. 

In this post, we put together some best practices from the past week. These examples have surfaced internally here at CrowdRiff, whether from customers or through our own research into what others are doing.

We recognize this situation is rapidly evolving—which is why we’ll aim to bring you an updated post every week on how others are operating and reacting during this time.

Every brand prioritizes differently through difficult times. We hope there’s something here for you. 

Act as a reputable source of information for locals and visitors

In his blog post earlier this week, our CEO Dan stated, “DMOs have long been a trusted source of information for travelers. The coronavirus doesn’t change that.” 

Whether on their website or social channels, the following examples illustrate how DMOs are remaining a reliable source of information for locals and visitors alike.

Destination British Columbia

The yellow banner across DBC’s homepage instantly grabs the traveler's attention. This banner guides people to a dedicated landing page where the team has included the latest developments from the government, information on prevention, travel restrictions, and resources for people seeking medical attention. This page is updated daily and helps increase transparency and communication for travelers, locals, and the tourism community across BC.

Visit Augusta

Visit Augusta, GA, also updated their website with a COVID-19 landing page that acts as a visitor-facing resource, which, similar to DBC, can be accessed through an alert module at the top of the homepage. 

They also created a few blog posts on social distancing and supporting local businesses, which you can read more about below.

Visit Louisville

Visit Louisville's COVID-19 information page shows a list of “virtual attractions” people can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their homes as well as local takeout options. 

Visit the Faroe Islands

In response to Europe’s strict travel restrictions, Visit Faroe Islands’ website asks travelers to refrain from visiting in March and early April 2020. They encourage people to reschedule their trip later in the year when “things have taken a turn for the better.” 

Visit Norway has a similar message: 

“Sorry … but the country is shutting down for all but necessary travel for the moment. Meanwhile, feel free to dream about all the things you can do when we open again. See you soon!”

MyHelsinki

On social media, many DMO teams are taking the approach of first, recognizing that “now is not the time for unnecessary travel,” and then saying they will continue to share uplifting, inspiring images of their destination in the meantime. 

MyHelsinki is a good example of this:

Visit Copenhagen

The team at Visit Copenhagen shares helpful links to national policies on their Facebook page for visitors and locals to keep their community educated.

Encouraging travelers to “Dream Now, Visit Later”

“Dream Now, Visit Later,” a term originally coined by Visit Norway, is an angle many DMO teams are taking right now. For those who are using this time to prepare for the eventual recovery, it’s about keeping the dream alive, not the details of the trip planning process.

Visit Estonia

Earlier this week, Visit Estonia encouraged travelers to stay home using a provocative hashtag. Here’s what campaign manager Shardee Rebas said about it in a Skift article

“We understand that the hashtag we used on Twitter was rather sensitive for an official tourism account. However, as it was trending and it reflected our thoughts perfectly (please *really* stay home) we figured it can be an excellent way to reach likeminded (responsible) people all over the world. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” 

Discover Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico is using their Twitter feed to curate important government information and updates in digestible ways, like this executive order signed by their Governor, Wanda Vázquez.

They are also sharing inspirational imagery, being careful to use “language around daydreaming for your next trip, rather than planning one today.” (Via Skift) 

In an extra effort to incentivize future travelers, they’re also offering a free experience upon return.

Visit Napa Valley

Visit Napa Valley, CA, created a blog post of inspirational images from Instagram. They say:

"While you might not be able to be here in person, we hope you enjoy this delightful collection of our favorite Napa Valley images, and that it might bring a few moments of happy distraction to your day.”

To support local businesses, they also published a blog post listing local wineries that are shipping their product and/or hosting virtual events.

Discover the Palm Beaches

Discover The Palm Beaches, FL, put together this virtual bike ride, which allows people to explore the Palm Beach Lake Trail from their homes.

Marketing Greece

Marketing Greece is also urging travelers to stay safe during these times, while also dreaming and planning a trip for the future. 

 “When the time is right, we’ll be there for you. Till then #staysafe” (via Greek Reporter)

Supporting local businesses 

The following examples can give you ideas on how to support local businesses in your community.

Visit Stockton

Visit Stockton, CA, added a Linktree link in their Instagram bio, which takes people to a page showcasing restaurants that are offering take-out and delivery. They announce the pages in an Instagram post and let people know they will be updated daily. There is also an accompanying dining guide to further showcase local restaurant delivery and pick-up options.

Discover St. Charles, MO, also uses Linktree in a similar way, with a blog on shopping local and online.

Visit Indiana also has a blog on “Your Guide to Low-Contact Carryout and Delivery in Indiana.

Visit Issaquah

Visit Issaquah, WA, created an Instagram Stories highlight for all their businesses that are open for delivery and takeout.

“I like that one of their suggestions is to leave a review for those who can’t order/shop/or buy a gift card for future use,” Heather Spencer, their CrowdRiff Customer Success Manager says.

Hamilton County

The folks over at Hamilton County, IN, put together this video encouraging donations to assist the local community:

Visit Indy

Visit Indy, IN, is selling t-shirts with the proceeds going to hospitality workers and artists. To date, they've sold over 7k.

Foster local pride

These DMOs have focused on fostering local pride in their regions.

Christchurch, NZ

The #exploreyourplace campaign is a call to action campaign urging locals to support their region and explore their own backyard experiences. 

Visit Greenwood

Visit Greenwood, MS, did a post on Instagram on safe social distancing activities to do around Greenwood. Some activities include getting a take out “picnic” meal to eat outside, exploring the downtown murals or going fishing on any of the three rivers. 

Visit Augusta

Visit Augusta assembled a ‘Social Distancing’ blog with an outline of indoor and outdoor activities and ways to support local businesses. 

Additionally, they’ve laid out a list of local businesses offering online shopping, curbside delivery, and takeout options in their ‘Support Local Businesses’ blog.

Visit South Bend

The team at Visit South Bend, IN, tweeted a roundup of #DogsAroundTheBend, adding some positivity and uplifting content to people’s feeds. 

They also feature a pinned tweet that guides people to a landing page on their website providing guidance regarding COVID-19 and travel.

We can all learn from each other

At CrowdRiff, we pride ourselves on being deeply invested in the travel community. It’s our goal to work hard and help solve the challenges modern marketers face. 

We know the past few weeks haven’t been easy. We’re doing everything we can to help, and part of that, we believe, is learning from one another.

If you’re interested in continuing the conversation, join us next week for CrowdRiff’s Online Community Meetup, where we’ll be discussing many of the topics above (and more) with industry leaders.

About the author

Julia Manoukian

Julia Manoukian is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at CrowdRiff. A former journalist, she has helped several Toronto startups raise their thought leadership profiles and scale their content efforts to influence revenue. She's passionate about storytelling, traveling, and tech.

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