The travel industry is one of the most impacted sectors due to the global pandemic. With stricter reinforcement in keeping the public safe, people are obliged to stay home and avoid nonessential travels. With this scenario for most months in 2020, many travel and tourism businesses were drained and eventually closed down.

The only thing keeping some businesses afloat is the presence of social media, where people can explore what certain areas are open for business. With relaxed policies on some cities and countries like New Zealand, tourism igniting the fire once again.

So what exactly are some of the major tourism trends and game changers this year when it comes to promoting the hospitality and travel businesses? In case you’re a business owner who needs some tips to get out there and promote your establishment, here are some of the game changers you should know and pay attention to this 2021.

Tourism Marketing Game Changers

Defining the Challenges

The travel sector contributes a lot to any country’s GDP, estimated around 10.3 percent of the global GDP. It creates massive jobs, which drastically help a country’s economy. More importantly, small and medium-sized businesses are able to survive and making decent profit.

However, because of the shift in the trends and some challenges, tourism companies need to think outside the box and innovate. During 2020, the challenge is to find means on how to promote the business and eventually encourage more booking. Be it advanced booking for the next few months or weekend getaways, travel companies need to keep going. Otherwise, it’s incredibly easy to stay stagnant and eventually go bankrupt.

It’s not an understatement that year 2020 brought new challenges to any sector, especially travel and tourism. Companies learn the importance of having an insurance to help with the losses as well as to keep paying employees up to a certain period of time. Additionally, companies learned to step up and elevate the marketing campaigns digitally. Now that you can’t hand out flyers and other print materials, the Internet is a good place to advertise.

Promoting the brand, engaging more people, and being visible online are some of the common trends that companies need to pay attention to. But the truth is, there’s more to these strategies that need to be met. Being creative and flexible are essential to survive and make people want to visit a specific place or establishment.

Small to bigger changes and shift to offerings can help to attract more people. But take in mind that not everyone can be eager to jump onto a plane and visit a tourist destination. Safety is another factor that affects the purchasing decision of most people. Even though some establishments are opening up, more people are hesitant to go out yet because of the risks. Therefore, businesses need to add safety into the marketing campaigns to cultivate peace of mind when traveling.

What exactly are the game changers in the tourism marketing amid a global pandemic?

  • Context-Aware Marketing

    Promoting a business is okay as long as business owners can understand that global events can also affect how people spend their money. Being sensitive to events such as the ongoing pandemic can help the customers to see you in a good light. While some travel and tours businesses are taking this opportunity to take advantage and book more tours, you simply can’t ignore the fact that people are losing jobs.

    Instead of pushing the idea of encouraging people to travel to your establishment, why not place advertisements that let them know you’re still there when everything’s back to the way it used to be? This is a subtle message that indicates a brand’s intention to let people know they’re still in business, all the while providing an image of helping the community fight the pandemic.

    Additionally, posting ads showcasing your support for the essential workers can work good for your brand image. Be creative and let people know that you’re also serving in times of difficulties and uncertainties. Avoid promoting flash sales just yet, instead, provide mindful information about the protocols in place and how the company can help make the vacation or holiday travel safe.

    Coming off as tone-deaf won’t do the brand good, and people will only shy away from the establishment in the future. Especially now that social media can easily tarnish a business’ reputation, business owners and marketers need to be careful.

    Partnering with certain organizations help to foster a good image too, a good initiative to get people’s attention about the brand. Recently, Hyatt has done this strategy and made a partnership with Headspace, a meditation application. The partnership opens up doors for those who want to experience peace in times of uncertainties. Members can get valuable offers and engage with the World of Hyatt app.

    In this situation, people are more involved with the Hyatt brand unconsciously, appreciating the initiative. It impacts the company in a good way for helping relieve stress out of members. This is a good tactic to leave a good impression to people amidst the travel restrictions.

  • Virtual Reality

    The truth is, virtual reality isn’t something new, in fact, it’s been used for the last few years. This is a good material for enhancing the marketing campaigns, elevating the experience without leaving the comforts of anyone’s home. In 2020, virtual reality technology was rampant, with more travel and tour businesses providing detailed tours via online.

    This is in fact one way of luring people to the establishment, be it a hotel, resort, or other hospitality businesses. People can experience a compelling representation of a certain destination, and get information on how safe it is to visit the place. From reality videos to virtual tours, tourism companies can surely engage customers with advanced technology.

    Quality is important factor when doing the virtual reality. Some people might not be interested in something that’s not high-quality. This is in terms of graphics, video production, sounds and music, and overall content. The initiative is there, but make sure to capture a person’s interest by creating high-quality content.

    Take Hamilton Island’s partnership with Qantas and Samsung as example. The brand creates a virtual reality goggles to watch the content in 3D. Through this material, people can experience Hamilton Island in the comforts of their homes. The campaign also showcases how easy it is to travel with Qantas, and the quality of video production by Samsung. Therefore, it’s a win-win solution for the brands involved, allowing unconscious brand promotion.

  • Customer Service via Social Media

    People are turning to social media for customer service channel because of the prompt response and assistance. With this trend, companies are setting up quick and auto response to assist customers better. As more and more people utilize social media, they also use these platforms to reach out to brands and resolve their issues.

    With customers not pushing through bookings or making changes on appointments, social media platforms help accommodate concerns and attend to them immediately. Unlike call centers where people need to wait for a representative to pick up their calls, social media gives a more relaxed and hassle-free way of reaching the brand.

    Taking the time to respond to customers has its benefits. One is the ability to increase customer advocacy, showing that the brand cares. Additionally, travel and tours companies can create posts to make an issue clear for followers and the rest of the customer base. It works because people can share the post to their own profiles and even send to family or friends.

    The message or posts circulate without any means for advertisement. This is how powerful social media is; connecting businesses to customers and enhancing the overall experience. Since customer service is a crucial element in any business, travel companies can step up, recognize the needs of customers, and make lines more accessible.

0Key Takeaways for Travel Marketing

Marketing isn’t only about making people recognize the brand, promoting products and services, or enhancing the purchasing decision. It’s also about fostering trust, fulfilling the needs of customers, and capturing the attention of potential customers.

Every now and then, new trends are introduced, and brands need to recognize these patterns and adapt. The reason is to stay relevant and relatable, as more younger audience are found on the Internet. Lacking the ability to adapt can mean losing more opportunities to promote the brand or business, and losing from other competitors.

To put it simply, optimize for mobile and social media, create new experiences, and empathize with customers. There’s a lot of things tourism businesses can learn more expert and experienced marketers when it comes to taking advantage of social media.

The most important thing is making it work online by using tools and proven strategies. It’s crucial to move forward and don’t be afraid to change tactics when things are coming to a different path. In the time of uncertainties, travel companies and brands can experiment, try new things, and leverage on creativity to thrive.