These are tough times for tourism. And now more than 1 year into the pandemic – so many destinations are still hitting the pause button hoping it was all just a bad dream. But, the smart ones know that it won’t go back to that way things were- that travel has changed – and if you don’t change withit, the future will not be so happy.
COVID was not just a huge hit to the leisure travel industry, it almost wiped out the business travel industry. While vaccines are coming – so are variants – so wearing a mask and social distancing are here to stay for some time.
I think we can pretty much declare mass tourism dead, and big group travel along with massive hotels and cruise ships are in real trouble.
Hey, tourism did not die– it just became tribal. Car trips, RV rental and vacation rentals all boomed. Domestic travel replaced foreign travel, and many countries saw foreign visitors be replaced by domestic ones. Many closed their borders, others became more jingoistic.
The good new is that people still want to travel- numerous surveys have shown that. And air travel is safe; we can see that too from a year of data. Hotels have done a great job too, if they had their resources to offer contactless check-in and all kinds of new cleaning and safe dining options. Hiking and outdoors activities have exploded. Travel just changed.
This is not the first time. Automobiles changed travel, so did jet aircraft. Grand Hotels, big summer resorts in the mountains, waterbeds, massage bed- motels, timeshare and other trends changed. And old trends come back, too: like the motel.
So- what to do?
Use the down time to think about your brand. What makes you special:Worth the journey, worth the risk? Are you in sync with the new travel market, or are you still back in 2019?
Research. Take the down time to do some research: And to plan. What is your key market? What is the emerging trend you can link to? What products and what messaging can you offer?
Look at your website. Did you update it? Is it clean and crisp, does it talk about your safety procedures? Is it accessible to all? Does it show the right images: No a big groups of people in it? Does it send the right message?
Don’t say that you will keep the lights on, and see you soon…everyone is saying that –there is nothing unique about that. It is actually kind of depressing. What can you say that is personal? What story telling can you do to build brand? Be hopeful and sync with where the market is going, not where it has been. That just sends the wrong message.
Focus on service, focus on experiences, communicate what you will do differently, better, and smarter. Look at tomorrow not just today.
We know that people don’t want crowds, they do not want big, but they do want to travel and see something amazing and inspiring. But the only people who will travel big distances are looking for something special, and they will be different in some way than the pre-pandemic traveler. So, don’t just dream about tomorrow, reset your communications to be ready for it.