2020 has been rough on the travel industry, to say the least. While nearly all sectors of business have been clobbered by the virus, the travel and tourism industry is first-hand experiencing a hard hit from the pandemic. As of mid-December, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) saw a 50 percent decline in travel spending this year—a total loss of $10.2 billion. What does this mean for DMOs going forward and how do you continue to reach and comfort your potential clients through these uncertain times? Discover a few tips to help ease travelers’ concerns as we all aim to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
Time to pivot and take control of the conversation. How is the virus affecting your destination? What plans and preventative measures are you putting in place? What role do you want your destination to play for your potential customers? Rather than attempt to generate bookings, use this opportunity to funnel educated information and mitigate concerns. Use these opportunities of quieter times of business to boost brand recognition and future reservations when the pandemic subsides.
Shift to a Younger Audience
It’s not like we needed a study to confirm—but apparently, there was a poll taken over the summer that confirmed: “[…] younger and wealthier traveler groups will be the first to resume international leisure tourism, once restrictions are lifted.”
With millennials surpassing baby-boomers as the largest living adult generation, DMOs can tighten up their audience targeting for a while, segmenting those most likely to engage when limitations are loosened. Not to mention, it’s far easier to reach a younger segment digitally through online classes, booking services, virtual tours, and streamed events.
Double-down on Influencers
To piggy-back on the shift to more aggressively target millennials, there’s never been a better time to expand your roster of brand ambassadors. With traditional methods (commercials, direct/indirect ad campaigns, and brochures) drifting away, the younger generation of travelers resonates more with social media influencers. The value is perceived as more authentic and transparent than traditional advertising. By partnering with influencers, DMOs, and travel agents are able to achieve that new level of trust usually reserved for recommendations from friends and colleagues.
Offer Open Rooms to Healthcare Workers
With many hotels and resorts experiencing nearly vacant properties during these times, some are choosing to take the opportunity to give back to the community. The American Hotel and Lodging Association initiative Hospitality for Hope is a program that connects hotels with local healthcare providers to house healthcare workers from the frontlines, as well as positive-tested individuals looking to self-isolate.