As we enter month seven of the COVID-19 crisis and quarantining at home, it’s clear that the travel industry will take some time before returning to life B.C. (before COVID). Current reports estimate that since the beginning of March, the pandemic has caused $320 billion in losses for the travel economy – a pretty heavy hit. Even though digital ad spend is down across the board and plans for long-haul travel and international destinations are on-hold for the foreseeable future, travel is typically one of the most resilient industries; and DMO’s (destination marketing organizations) have started to look at ways in which they can pivot their marketing strategies to reflect new consumer behavior created in response to COVID-19. This week we’re getting into how local travel marketing is heating up and top tips for success, even in spite of overall digital spend continuing to trend downwards.
According to recent data points presented by Simpleview:
- Destination marketing organizations have seen an 11-week increase in overall website traffic
- There’s been a 5X increase in travel spending since April
- 73% of 250 CMO’s recently surveyed said they are planning to actually increase their ad spend within the next month
AAA has estimated that 700 million trips were actually taken during summer 2020 (July-September), with 97% of those being road trips. Additionally, 62% of consumers recently surveyed by Airbnb said they were looking to take a vacation “within driving distance.” With all signs pointing to local travel heating up, even though the general industry may be on a decline, how can local travel bureaus capitalize on this moment and change in consumer behavior?
- Employ a call-to-action across pieces of content to understand consumer behavior
-With COVID-19, an impending election and a hyperactive news cycle, consumer behavior is changing at a rapid pace. It’s important to understand what content and messaging is resonating most with your target audience; and by utilizing a call to action across pieces of content, marketers can gain tangible insights into what’s working vs. what’s not, and drive bigger business outcomes. Additionally, calls-to-action that ask for consumer information allows you to create an owned first party audience, which is imperative to target pre-qualified leads and use this pool for future campaigns.
- Rethink content creation for the “new normal”
-Even though there’s been some signals that things are returning to pre-pandemic behavior, the travel industry is going to take a few years before it’s fully recovered. Look at ways to utilize content that connects to this new consumer behavior – some thought-starters include:
- Virtual travel and experiences
- Stories about local businesses helping others
- “Shop local” initiatives
- Local dining and promoting restaurants in your area
- Travel inspiration around your destination – movies, books, podcasts, photos and videos
- Tips to help consumers feel safe while traveling – what is your community doing to ensure travelers stay healthy while visiting?
- Stay agile and ready to pivot if-needed
-Agile marketing is becoming an increasingly important skill for marketers in 2020. Given the current climate and things happening all around us, it’s essential for brands to quickly adjust their strategy if/when-needed. Make sure your content conveys the latest information available to your destination, making sure messaging is clear and concise so consumers can trust what you’re saying.
- Don’t pause campaigns!
-When COVID-19 hit in early March, inPowered saw almost two-thirds of their clients essentially pause their campaigns overnight. As the famous adage goes: “When times are good, you should advertise. When things are bad, you must advertise.” Even if COVID cases re-surge and travel is put on hold again, continue pushing out content that is inspiring and helpful to consumers, serving as a real resource during these tumultuous times.