Destinations and destination management companies, such as country convention bureaus and tourist boards, have been hit hard by the travel bans and government policies put in place to counteract the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
While this is all necessary, it does mean that destinations will have to think differently about marketing to their customers. As Skift found out in a recent blog, there’s no point advertising and inviting people to visit a destination when no one can travel.
For that reason, regular marketing tactics don’t quite hit the mark. Hard selling campaigns and overzealous promotion are all well and good when you’re trying to be seen and heard in a competitive marketplace, but when the marketplace is thinning out, it’s more insensitive and tone-deaf than impactful.
So, what can tourist boards and convention bureaus do to promote their destinations in this current uncertain time, without coming across in the wrong way? How can they keep visibility and brand awareness while travel bans are in place?
Well, let’s have a look at what some organisations have already done.
Do something unusual or different
When VisitEstonia saw the hashtag #staythefuckhome trending on Twitter, they had a choice to make.
“We understand that the hashtag we used on Twitter was rather sensitive for an official tourism account,” said Shardee Rebas, the campaign manager for Visit Estonia, in an email to Skift.
“However, as it was trending and it reflected our thoughts perfectly (please *really* stay home) we figured it can be an excellent way to reach likeminded (responsible) people all over the world. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”
The tweet ended up being their most highly engaged post ever.
Many companies are finding that they have to go against everything they normally do in their marketing strategy to succeed in a time like this, but that doesn’t mean they have to behave out of character.
Instead of promoting an event in order to get people to attend, the option is there to use this time as an opportunity to reinforce your brand’s message, your values and your purpose with targeted messages or content on social media.
This could be anything from a photo of your team all working together on a virtual meeting platform to a blog about the ways you’re conducting business and adapting to the new situation.
Look to the future
We all know that this situation won’t last for ever. In time, we’ll all go back to business and back to normality.
However, for the time being, that future seems quite far away and marketing campaigns should be hesitant to push for a hard sell to convince people to book tickets or stands at the moment.
Instead, soft sell your product, service or destination by asking them to look towards a time when it will be possible to work with you. That’s something the Switzerland Convention and Incentive Bureau are demonstrating on Twitter.
They include key messaging for the current situation, such as “stay safe – stay home”, but also inspire future plans with their dream messaging.
It’s an uncertain time and not knowing what the right thing to do can make things even more confusing.
We hope this blog has provided you with some inspiration for your current marketing campaigns, or even just shown what other people are currently doing online right now to make you feel more comfortable with sending out your own messages – you don’t have to go completely radio silent.
In fact, it’s probably better that you don’t. Showing that you’re still active and still operating can help to inspire hope in our community, encourage them to believe that life carries on, and there will be an end to all of this.
For more content like this, visit our new virtual resource hub – IBTM Connect. There you can access blogs, videos, current news and information, and webinars on a variety of topics.