Despite the official or self-enforced restrictions, there is still a desire to travel – or at least to start making plans – so travel and tourism businesses need to adjust and reposition themselves to accommodate the new landscape.
Cover the new basics
With the current “threat” being COVID-19, businesses across the industry must implement new measures to ensure health and safety. These should be communicated clearly to external audiences to remove any doubts surrounding the quality and safety of their service or product.
Measures and standards that used to be taken for granted or perceived as a given, now need to be reiterated alongside the new measures implemented to mitigate the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Revise your segmentation models
Market segments that used to be the most frequent visitors may no longer be able or willing to visit or use the same services and destinations. Having previously depended on foreign visitors, many destinations have now seen an influx of nationals visiting and exploring popular destinations within their own country.
Destinations that offer proximity, a key attraction or an activity are already being prioritised by new audience segments. To make sure the right people are being targeted under these new circumstances, we recommend having a look at your current segmentation model – and revising it.
Show transparency and agility
As the virus spreads, retreats, mutates, or is rendered harmless through medical accomplishments, businesses should be able to show that they are agile. This must become a standard part of business communications and show the company’s continuous efforts to prevent further spread of the virus.
Build trust through people and brand
When communicating both externally and internally, it is important to anchor messaging to the brand or to a key person, such as the chief executive. By giving your message a face, it will be easier to build trust and accountability.
Revisit and update crisis training
COVID-19 has presented a whole new set of risks that need to be handled. Revisiting your crisis and preparedness plans and training for these new risks will add a new level of security for your company and help mitigate the consequences of a potential event.
Not everything is about sales
People are looking for reassurances, comfort and inspiration. What a business communicates externally cannot be all about boosting sales. Because the industry is currently synonymous with the increased risk of contagion, it will be perceived as unethical to be promoting this. Not all content needs to feed into a sale-promoting agenda, but should rather inspire, engage and inform.
Sustainability becomes fundamental
The environmental impact of travel has become increasingly clear, so businesses working in some of the polluting parts of the travel sector will need to take a position on this. If we need to rebuild, why not ‘build back better’?
Simen Johannesen is a senior account director and head of travel & tourism for H+K Norway and Charlotte Reksten is a senior account executive for H+K Norway