Looking For Light At The End Of The Tunnel

It may be hard to envision a productive ending to the current virus crisis for the tourism sector, but one travel industry consultant says stakeholders should start taking action now to ensure a silver lining on the covid cloud, reports Western editor, Ted Davis in this week’s issue of Canadian Travel Press.

Tourism industry businesses and DMOs (destination marketing organizations) can be using these down times and sales doldrums to prepare for the end of the COVID-19 outbreak, when potential travellers will be needing flights or will finally be looking for a well-deserved vacation. That’s when tourism stakeholders should be ready with sales and marketing plans as part of a recovery strategy, says Greg Klassen, a partner at Twenty31, a travel consultancy firm in B.C. that specializes in long range outlooks for the travel industry.

“It’s important to have strong leadership at this time and to start planning for recovery when this threat comes to an end,” says Klassen. “Now is the time to start working on strategies to come out of the gate with marketing plans as soon as we hear the first reports of successful containment of the disease.”

So What’s The Message?

This requires, for instance, knowledge of who will need to travel, who will want to travel, and who will be most responsive to the recovery messaging. For travel sellers, this might include a marketing and communications plan for source markets and target audiences that are most likely to respond to advertising and special offers.

In the near term, DMOs and travel sellers should develop a recovery marketing plan focusing on short-term domestic and regional market campaigns. In the long term, they are advised to stress-test areas of corporate and destination strategy vulnerabilities, such as an over-reliance on a few source markets (eg. China), and to further diversify their source markets and target audiences.

A more intensive use of social media channels to amplify more positive tourism messages and images can also be emphasized. This kind of messaging should get more focus, he said.

For the full story, check out this week’s digital edition of Canadian Travel Press.