Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, most industries — especially travel — have had to be nimble, to pivot and realign their priorities, their strategic marketing plans and, in some cases, their whole approaches to doing business. According to the U.S. Travel Association, “In the week ending June 27, the travel economy witnessed its ninth-consecutive week of expansion since the start of the pandemic but still registered 52% below last year's levels (a $12.4 billion loss).”
The good news is that with many travel spots safely reopening, tourism is increasing. The less than good news is that the pandemic is still ongoing, requiring convention and visitors’ bureaus (CVBs) to reassure visitors while actively trying to promote their communities to tourists.
Convention And Visitors’ Bureaus Promoted Staycations In The Earlier Days Of The Pandemic
Prior to the country reopening in many places, CVBs took the approach of promoting staycations or sharing heartwarming messages of resilience, despite not being open to tourists. The Nacogdoches, TX Convention and Visitors Bureau pivoted very early on to campaigns focused on locals. Socially distanced activities, like visiting gardens and natural areas, were emphasized, with Sherry Morgan, Executive Director of the Nacogdoches CVB remarking that “We’ve changed our focus from tourists to locals. Basically we’re just trying to inject positivity.”
In mid-May, other CVBs around the country created “We Will Meet Again” messaging. Cities and countries around the world from Boise to Bermuda released videos encouraging visitors to stay home until it was safe to meet again. The videos are positive and tout the benefits of the communities, promising to be ready when it is safe to open. Since then, many of these communities have opened, and their websites include detailed descriptions of safety precautions.
The Shreveport, LA ‘Press Play in Shreveport-Bossier’ Multichannel Digital Marketing Campaign Encourages Nearby Tourist Travel
In order to offer support to local businesses and begin to safely suggest ways for tourists to visit the Shreveport area, the Shreveport CVB launched the “Press Play in Shreveport-Bossier” digital marketing campaign. The multichannel strategy is inclusive of social media, search engine marketing, digital advertising and targeted email marketing campaigns. The campaign is focused on weekend getaways and driving trips that encourage hotel bookings. In June, a pilot program in the Shreveport community that offers partnership package deals with hotels, local businesses and restaurants launched.
“We recognize that during this slow time our partners need us even more to be out front marketing and promoting the destination to increase visitation,” said Stacy Brown, President of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau. “We see tourism as an economic driver, and we want to do our part to aid in the recovery of our local economies.”
Hawaii Tourism Boards Determine The Best Way Forward When It Comes To Strategic Marketing Of Coronavirus Protocols
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, “Tourism is the largest single source of private capital for Hawaii’s economy,” with 2019 posting $17.75 billion in visitor spending. How to effectively promote the new testing procedures the island is requiring for visitors is a growing concern for Chris Tatum, Hawaii Tourism Authority CEO. “We don’t want people coming here and going into quarantine,” said Tatum. “They need to know that they’ve got to get a test before they come [to Hawaii]. If they do the right [testing] process, they’re going to have a phenomenal experience here. If they don’t, they’re going to be sitting in their hotel room twiddling their thumbs.” The state of Hawaii is hoping that rigorous testing can get tourism on the path to recovery.
The beauty of Hawaii and the Aloha spirit of the people has naturally lent itself to many successful digital marketing campaigns in the past, including the #LetHawaiiHappen Instagram marketing campaign that targeted first time visitors by offering glimpses of hidden gems around the islands.
CVBs Around The Country Need To Stay Alert And Ready To Change Marketing Strategies As Needed
Right now, the tourism industry has to stay ready to change with the evolution of the coronavirus pandemic. By offering positive messaging with clear indicators of how travel can be safe and continuing to promote both location benefits and alternative ways to visit, CVBs will be prepared to connect with travelers and address both their desires and their concerns. The new normal reaches across industries, travel included, and well-executed digital marketing strategies evolved to today’s traveling mindsets are essential to success and for the future for travel.
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