Frederic Gonzalo’s Blog


What next for travel marketing?

While there is still a lot of uncertainty amidst this Covid-19 pandemic across the globe, many destinations are slowly starting to shift gears as deconfinement is gradually taking place.

Is it too soon to promote travel in this context? Is it enough to simply be inspirational for better times to come?

There are many actions travel marketers ought to take right now to get ready for when demand will return in greater strides. These actions are meant to reassure and reinstate confidence with travelers as they seek out their first or next trip.

Here are five tips to help travel brands moving forward with their communication efforts.

Change images

We say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and most of us all will agree that quality visuals are pivotal to selling travel experiences, from inspiration to transaction.

Yet, we now live in a different world where a 2m (or 6 feet) distance is required between people, and where group gatherings are no longer acceptable — even though we long for them!

Can we still afford to have images such as the one above, where a group of visitors in a museum are clearly not respecting the rules of social distancing? How is your hotel, restaurant or attraction adapting to ensure a safe and clean environment to prevent spreading the Covid-19 virus?

How hotel receptions will be adapting to the new Covid-19 reality. Source: CNN Travel

If airlines are expecting customers to wear a mask, one would expect to see images on their website, videos and newsletters that reinforce that message.

In other words, images on your digital platforms need to be aligned with the corporate message and you should be cautious about older images that convey pre-Covid-19 behaviors.

Inspire

We should not underestimate how much of a traumatizing experience this two-month long confinement has been for a vast majority of people across the globe. There is strong yearning to get out there and just be outdoors!

The folks from Visit Portugal did a stellar job of telling us all to stay inside for a while… but to continue dreaming for better days ahead.

That’s why maintaining a content calendar has been important during confinement and will remain important moving forward. Social media algorithms being what they are, staying silent during many weeks is simply not an option.

Many travel agents have gone silent during the last few weeks, while others such as Michelle Figliano (see above) continue to keep their follower base inspired to travel when this will become possible.

Educate

Inspiring is nice, but it is also time to educate about measures in place to ensure safety and cleanliness. It’s also an opportunity to communicate what your organization is doing in order to comply with health concerns and making travel safe.

In a recent newsletter sent out by the Baywater Convention Center, the message was clear for future business travelers and meeting planners: we are adapting our service offering to the new reality and here’s how we are doing it.

Hotels, restaurants and attractions that put in place plexiglass protection for their employees and install various Purell dispensers across strategic locations should emphasize this aspect in their various communication tools: website, brochures, banners, blog, social media, newsletters, etc.

If content is king, context is the queen!

A friend of mine had planned to go to Portugal this summer, but her trip was obviously cancelled due to the pandemic. The problem is, she was refunded for the hotel portion of her trip, but the airline has yet to reimburse her two months after the fact.

Yet, she received a generic newsletter this week from that same airline (and tour operator) saying that it’s important to keep dreaming of travel! Hmm, how can we say this: poor timing?

In other words, yes, having a content strategy and calendar is always a good practice when it comes to digital marketing. But bearing in mind the context is fundamental.

Right now, there are many folks furloughed or unemployed and the economic situation won’t be easy for a growing part of your target audience. It will be important to have this in mind when you create social media posts, newsletter content or blog articles in coming weeks.

Update your online presence and listings

Last but not least: have you updated your website information yet? Is there a dedicated page that informs on what measures are in place to address the ongoing and evolving situation?

For example, Canadian boutique hotel chain Germain Hotels has modified its home page to let users know of its policy and how it adapted its customer experience.

You should also take some time to update the information listed on various partner sites, including:

  • Google My Business
  • TripAdvisor
  • Yelp
  • Food delivery services (UberEats, DoorDash, Skip)
  • OTA (Expedia, Booking, Ctrip, etc.)

And just like you updated images on your own platforms, you may want to double-check what images are being used on these partner sites as well to ensure alignment.

These are just a few of the key elements you may want to take a look as we move into a new reality, with new customer behaviors and new expectations.

Frederic Gonzalo

Frederic Gonzalo

Speaker and consultant with over 25 years of experience in travel marketing, sales and communications. Since 2012, I provide strategic planning consulting, website audits as well as digital marketing coaching for all levels of organizations, from SMB to large travel organizations.

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