Make recovery the story! How the travel industry can win back tourists
Chalkmarks Tourism

WE’RE all so glad we can travel again. Everyone wants a holiday right now and the tourism industry is desperate for the financial boost.

Now lockdown is easing, destinations and tour operators are tempting holidaymakers overseas with incredible snaps of sunny beaches and big discounts.

But still many are not ready. There’s too much uncertainty about taking a flight, temperature checks on arrival, being trapped inside a local lockdown, finding out what’s open on the ground, and potentially falling ill aboard.

Speaking at the WTM Tourism Recovery Strategies digital webinar, tourism specialists revealed that what travellers need is information. Communication needs to kick in.

  • The industry needs to recognise there’s a coronavirus pandemic
  • Destinations and tour operators should make recovery part of their story
  • Travel companies need to experiment with their product offerings
  • Hostels and hotels should use travel bloggers who can share their “new normal experiences” to help build confidence.

Recovery strategies

The travel industry can’t promote itself out of the crisis

Audrey Scott co-founder of uncorneredmarket.com said: “Trying to win people back just with low prices isn’t a long term strategy. You might get a few people in the short term. The other big thing is don’t pretend there’s not a pandemic going on. That might sound really obvious but I have seen some destination websites where there’s not even a mention of covid or not even a mention of what the border restrictions are or what the travel restrictions are or how the company is taking extra steps.

“So when you’re marketing or promoting or communicating, be sure to be honest and transparent about what’s going on, about what your company is doing and then it’s not just for the safety of tourists or travellers but also for the safety of employees and the community and I think that type of transparent and authentic communication is really good. Pretending there’s not a pandemic going on and just showing pictures of beautiful beaches, I think people will start getting suspicious.”

Daniel Noll co-founder added:

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to as an industry promote our way out of the circumstances. So promotion, PR and communication are important tools but also there should be more integration, especially now, between PR and marketing, product, operations the destinations and tour companies. This is the opportunity to change that.

“This is a great time to experiment. If the product team says we have a new experience – a new cooking experience – and we are only going to offer it on a limited basis, can you help us promote that? And make that part of the story: we are trying to pivot and shift according to the circumstances so our people can survive. You make the recovery part of your story. And you make the adaption of your product part of your story.”

The benefit of bloggers

Kash Bhattacharya founder of budgettraveller.org said: “It’s that first person perspective that bloggers bring that you can actually see what a destination looks like, what’s the experience of checking into the hotel. Bloggers take huge amounts of risk particularly in this current situation to be travelling to these places so I think that first person perspective is what will help rebuild confidence because at the moment what travellers are seeking is information and some sort of assurance that it is safe to travel to those destinations or stay in that hotel. So without that first person perspective, it’s very difficult for consumers to know what is going on in the destination.

“Germany is a great example, Austria: these countries have already been tapping into bloggers they’ve worked with in the past and getting them to tell stories of what travellers can expect when they travel there.

“Work with people passion. I think that’s one thing that can’t be faked. You can fake numbers. You can fake engagement but you can’t fake passion. We need to work with nice people not divas.”

Who to work with

Melvin Boecher founder of platform traveldudes.org said: “I would always recommend definitely to have a call with them. There are so many different approaches for a campaign and at the moment you call them, best with a video call or by phone,  you get a better impression already. Look at the content and discuss and brainstorm the priorities of the campaign. If you look at the content and you are happy with the content you can go ahead. I always say there are two ways of working with bloggers. You can work also with hobby bloggers who don’t have the exposure then they trade more the content and if you work with a profession blogger they have more experience in creating exposure and there’s always ways to work together.”

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