How Can DMOs Prepare for the Road to Recovery After Coronavirus
10th April 2020
Thank you to Simpleview, our main sponsor, who have written an incredibly helpful guest blog for us. It is really worth a read.
Coronavirus has obviously taken its toll on the global travel sector over the last few months but we're starting to see more and more destinations and providers being innovative and proactive when it comes to communicating with their target markets. How the travel sector responds to the coronavirus crisis will have a huge impact on how quickly it recovers. Those organisations that continue the dialogue and maintain their marketing share of voice will come out on top.
The teams at Simpleview, both in Europe and the USA have been looking at some of the initiatives that destinations around the globe (including some of our own clients) have been implementing to keep their audiences in the loop and support their tourism providers during these challenging times. We’ve also been thinking about some activities which our DMOs can implement as part of a short-term digital marketing strategy so that they’re ready to welcome back visitors when the restrictions are lifted.
The list is not exhaustive and we’ll continue to add to it but hopefully it will provide some food for thought…
Supporting Food & Drink Businesses
Some destinations are helping to promote local restaurants that are offering alternatives such as takeaways, delivery and additional services:
- Visit Brighton(Facebook)
- Lake Charles (Destination Updates including provider updates)
- Guide to Oslo in Corona Times (delivered to your door + inspiration for outdoor activities)
- South County, Rhode Island (delivery and takeout blog post)
- Bryan College Station, Texas (restaurant and delivery pick-up and delivery options with mobile-friendly PDF)
Supporting Other Local Businesses
Here’s some examples of destinations that are providing a helping hand to their general providers and partners:
- Ventura(California) has distributed a #StayVenturaStrong sign template to their partners so that they can hang these posters in their windows and spread a message of hope and community throughout the city.
- Holiday company, HolidayPirates, is promoting virtual city and museum tours around the world
- Raleigh, North Carolina is offering ideas on 150 Ways to Support Local Businesses
- Stoke-On-Trent City Centre BID created a Photo Album on their facebook page so that local businesses can tag them directly into any relevant COVID-19 related opening time changes etc.
- Athens, Georgia - partner resources including loans info, hotelier webinars, relevant industry groups...
- We've seen multiple destinations create Support Local Bingo cards for their residents, like this one.
Obviously, many events will be cancelled or postponed over the coming months but here’s a few tips on how you can still use your pages to continue to engage with visitors:
- Consider adding some content to your events pages that encourages your visitors to sign up for your newsletter so that they will be updated when things settle down and events are back on. Now is a great time to build on your local contacts and capitalise on being the most up-to-date resource on the status of businesses in your destination.
- Think about live streaming - Visit Oslo decided that restrictions on public events would not stop them so they have moved into digital spaces
- Add a note on your events page suggesting visitors check official event websites (with links) for the latest news (similar notes can be added to the Hotels page and Restaurants pages, as appropriate).
- Don't remove Event details for those cancelled events but instead, update your event detail template with a warning that events info may be out of date. In addition, update the description of any individual events that have been postponed or cancelled. We recommend leaving the titles the same for URL continuity in search engine indexes and analytics reports.
With your content, you need to make sure that's it's sensitive to the current situation but also written with a longer term view in mind, ready to welcome back visitors when the time is right. Here's a few factors to consider:
- Don't make rash decisions about unpublishing content as it's easy to undo years of SEO work by removing important pages - it would be better to remove a page from navigation vs. removing it from the site.
- Consider FAQ style content with questions regarding health and travel in your destination.
- Highlight members of your community that are going above and beyond or making an impact.
- Keep creating content - you may want to change the timing on some pieces but eventually, the search volume will be back. Having content running and indexed will put you ahead of the game when it's safe to plan trips again.
Check out some inspiration for creative content from these destinations:
- Visit Manchester's 'Manchester Misses You' (#MCRmissesyou) is a great resource with educational information, opportunities to explore cultural venues without leaving your seat and lots of ideas to stay fit and healthy (with information on which green spaces are still open)
- Providence created a blog post with colouring pages inspired by popular spots around the city (accompanied by a hashtag, of course) as a fun way to keep their hot spots on everyone's mind!
- Augusta has done a great job promoting not only their trails and solitary activities, but also suggesting that their visitors watch movies filmed in Augusta (while drinking a locally brewed beer) and listening to a playlist full of Augusta artists.
- Chicago Aquarium has created a video of Wellington the penguin exploring the aquarium during its closure
- If resources allow, add a blog post for what people can still do now. Highlight parks where people can get fresh air, scenic drives, camping, and restaurants providing delivery and takeaway options. Richmond has posted a great one!
- Stay visible on all of your social media channels with useful updates for business and leisure visitors re events, attraction closures, accommodation information etc.
- Switch the focus of your messaging from bookings to brand awareness and relationship building
- Monitor your channels and make sure you answer any queries or concerns – transparency is key at this time
Take the opportunity to clean and refine your data and consider segmentation strategies for the recovery phase ie. think about segmentation based on those most likely to visit/return once the restrictions are lifted:
- Domestic audiences – focus on local people as these may be the first to return to your providers after the crisis (in a similar way to the Australian tourism industry responded after the fires)
- Neighbouring audiences
- Repeat visitors
- Resilient visitors
Useful Industry Resources
There’s plenty of resources out there to help our clients and partners to keep up to date. Here’s a few that we’re aware of:
- Visit Britain
- Digital Tourism Think Tank – Live Blog
- Destinations International Resource Hub
- Oxford Economics
- Adara's traveler trends tracker (US Travel Market)
- Skift Coronavirus Live Blog
We know times are tough and uncertain right now but it’s inspiring to see all corners of the industry coming together to support each other. As we said at the beginning of the blog, the focus right now should be on recovery so that you’re ready to capitalise on demand when the crisis is over.
In the meantime, the team at Simpleview is here to help. Do let us know if you have any queries about how our tourism solutions can help with any of the above ideas.