Tourism Marketing for a Post-pandemic World
The entire mega-industry that is Global Tourism has been one of the hardest hit by the 2020 pandemic. From opulent resorts to seasonal tour operators, the tourism businesses that have been able to weather this economic storm now face an uphill battle toward recovery and stability. In 2021 – and for the next few years at least – Tourism Marketing must work harder and smarter than ever.
But spring is finally here. More importantly, vaccines are finally here. So, the tourism business can plan (properly) for the future. Starting with the first few issues that need attention. Adhere to remaining health and safety regulations. Rebuild consumer interest in their products while restoring trust in their experiences. All while keeping employees safe, with an eye to mental health for everyone.
Budgets are stretched thin on both sides of the counter. So, it’s going to be a long road to the future. Keep reading for every fresh edge you can get.
Digital Tourism Marketing Content
You already know that the days of relying on a billboard or a magazine ad are far behind you. And you found out the hard way that even the most beautiful web banner isn’t going to meet your needs. We’re not suggesting you abandon those efforts if you still see measurable results. But we are saying that you’ll need a digital content strategy to move forward.
Post-pandemic Tourism Marketing will call for more than just graphics resized for various social media platforms. We’re talking about unique content, personable engagement, and in general, organic growth rooted in a thoughtfully cultivated brand.
Will you work with influencers chosen to engage with your prime demographic? Are you ready to welcome your customers back with ads that don’t look like ads and sales language that doesn’t sound sales-y?
You need to know now if you should be working on content for YouTube or TikTok. And if you’re not sure where your customers are online, it’s time to find out.
AR & VR Tourism Marketing
Bringing customers in with interactive teaser content has become critically important. Because the try-before-you-buy features adopted by retailers can (and will) be used successfully by a growing number of tourism boards, hospitality companies, and tour operators. The question isn’t can you incorporate Extended Reality into your digital marketing, it’s will you adopt AR & VR before your competitors do?
In 2021, and likely for the next few years, travelling in large tour groups, particularly with strangers, will be avoided. This means no crowds following guides at museums, monuments, and historical sites. Augmented Reality content can fill this gap while achieving the goal of being contactless as well. No more headset rentals or costly printed material.
Will it be tourism boards, tour operators, or resort properties to take on these projects? Ideally, every hospitality and travel business will add a little AR or other Extended Reality content to their Tourism Marketing plan, creating an overall richer, better quality experience for each visitor.
Highlight Your Outdoor Attributes
For the next few years, travel and tourism will need to focus on outdoor adventures. Both tourism boards and accommodation providers should keep the focus on activities either inherently outdoors or things-to-do that can be adapted to distanced, open-air settings.
Popular destinations will want to have a plan for managing traffic and, if necessary, facilitating activity reservations. Tourism Marketing can benefit from assurances that a family can plan ahead to enjoy amenities without worrying about crowding and personal risk.
It’s worth mentioning that tourism businesses can be looking even farther ahead, anticipating that a generation of travellers will be coming of age that prioritizes privacy, space, and sanitation. Operators and properties sensitive to this long-term trend will have an advantage.
Tourism Marketing for a Local Audience
The localism trend is going to continue through 2021 as vaccination efforts take time to reach every demographic. So, the tourism business will need to continue walking that tightrope between attracting customers and operating within municipal and state guidelines.
Does your region or city allow visitors, but have an ongoing mask mandate? Are you prepared to manage visitors from areas with more lenient health and safety standards? Perhaps your region has relaxed restrictions and you’ll see an influx of visitors desperate to escape their own strict environment.
Just about everywhere in the world has had to deal with explosive anger over masks and other health guidelines that not every resident wants to follow. So, we expect those problems to continue as tourism markets re-open unevenly.
Keeping your Tourism Marketing targeted to local and regional patrons can be a great strategy to a) get your bookings back and b) keep both staff and customers on the same page.
Setting Up Customer Expectations
Any successful resort, hotel, guided tour, or gear rental business will tell you that it’s all about customer service. Tourism businesses of all sizes still need amazing service and probably always will. But how do you deliver that high quality of service in a way that works for everyone?
We’ve been talking about meeting consumers where they’re at since the beginning of the pandemic. And in terms of customer service, this can mean taking the counter-intuitive step of giving people space. Even after it’s no longer the law.
Meanwhile, some tourists have been waiting, impatiently, for life to go back to normal. They have every intention of taking their dream vacation, their way, as soon as restrictions aren’t prohibitive. In terms of consumer profiles, the tourism industry really has a mixed bag to interpret.
Do you have a plan for what you’re willing and able to accommodate in the post-pandemic world? And a plan for what you won’t tolerate? The right Tourism Marketing strategies can help set you up for success by creating realistic expectations before visitors so much as cross your threshold.
Addressing Employee Needs
Responsible employers will be coming out of this pandemic with a fresh respect for their employees’ health and economic needs. And let’s not forget emotional wellness in an industry that can be emotionally demanding.
It’s important to remember that the mental health impacts you’re considering in your customers will be true for employees as well. That stewardess who was always extra friendly, no matter how long she’d been in the air? She’s been traumatized by over a year of fear for her health and her job security. That waitress at your favourite beachfront café? She had Covid-19 for three weeks and still struggles to keep her stamina up.
One of the biggest challenges we foresee is balancing what customers want with what staff can manage. We have entered an era in which the customer is no longer right. But not all tourists will have adapted, so you’ll need to respond accordingly. Remember that your Tourism Marketing content isn’t just speaking to potential customers; prospective employees see your messaging too.
Tough Talk in Tourism Marketing
Your first reaction to the prospect of continuing the conversation about Covid-19 or health and safety regulations could be that you never want to hear the words again. And that’s natural. We get it. However … it’s important to keep in mind that consumers won’t be able to forget. At least not en masse.
A region with a strong track record of managing the pandemic may be more popular as a destination going forward. If your city or province didn’t handle the coronavirus well, how have things changed to restore visitor trust?
As much as we’re all very ready to put Covid-19 behind us, the tough truth is that we’ll be talking about it for a generation. The events of 2020 have changed our behaviour and expectations. Tourism Marketing campaigns that acknowledge this reality will certainly perform better.
Transforming the Tourism Experience
Do you feel 100% confident that you’ve adapted to the changing tourism landscape in your region? Have you really nailed the marketing plan that successfully engages with your ideal customers?
If you can’t say yes to both of those questions, it’s time for experience transformation. The changes you make now can help you bounce back this summer, and for the years ahead.
Your Tourism Marketing absolutely must account for permanent changes to the industry. Chances are, if you’ve made it to spring of 2021, you’ve already made some tough decisions, both financially and emotionally. Now it’s time for the last leg of this marathon.
Your Tourism Marketing Partners
Stambol’s team of tech pioneers calls one of the most beautiful cities in the world home. Although our team has always been connected remotely, our core presence is our Vancouver office – with some of the best tourism on the planet just steps from our door.
We also have a strong background in Real Estate and resort marketing. Combined with our engineering, programming, and digital art background … we’re simply one of the best choices to help your business adapt to a new era in Tourism Marketing.
Ask the Stambol team how we can assist with your transformation. We’re ready to get you back on track, helping you put the disasters of 2020 in your rear-view.
Feature Image Credit: olezzo / Adobe Stock