Travel Marketing in the COVID-19 Era: How to Pivot Your Marketing Plan in Times of Crisis

Travel Marketing in the COVID-19 Era: How to Pivot Your Marketing Plan in Times of Crisis

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” - Source Unknown

Covid-19 has compelled the whole world to adapt to a “new normal”. It has driven the entire travel and tourism industry into scrutiny and has created economic hardships for millions. The only silver lining is that it has pushed us to innovate in order to pave the way to recovery considering we all understand that the tourism sector will have to undertake huge efforts to reach back to its core potential given the current scenario.  

Appropriately, there is a wide array of proactive measures that have been proposed to protect the interest of travellers. There have been innovative solutions with regards to safety and hygiene, as well as the proximity of medical facilities. These factors will be of utmost importance in meeting the demand of the ‘new normal’.  There is no doubt that they will influence almost every aspect of the tourist’s travel itinerary. Accordingly, it is time for us to update our old ways of doing things. Tourism Boards and other travel marketers, in particular, have their work cut out for them. They will have to propose innovative and out of the box ideas to attract travellers. To successfully do this, I believe the need of the hour is to adapt to a wider scope of technology to provide a seamless transition into this post COVID era. 

Here are some of my recommendations on how to market in these times. 

1) Spotlight on Health and Safety: The highlight of new marketing plans should be health and sanitization.  Hygiene standards and their communication should be as rigorous as possible.

2) Flexibility in Bookings:

Travellers often buy experiences as a bundle. It is our job to package it in such a way that it is individualized and flexible, given the many contingencies associated with travel currently. 

3) Management Software Programs: Usage of marketing project management software, to manage time and workflows, plan campaigns and decode human interactions with the industry, is now easier and can help us in creating personalized marketing plans. 

4) Virtual Tourism:

In essence, virtual tourism is a hybrid of tourism and virtual reality. Integration of both may take different forms depending on the degree of technological capability. With more than half the world coming to a halt, and millions of people being confined to their homes, the next best alternative to turn to is virtual tourism. In fact, it is a refreshing and striking way to present information about tourism products and services and will also keep interest piqued during these times. 

5) Virtual Meetings: 

Webinars and video conferences have become the norm. They allow us to manage day-to-day professional activities while following the safety protocol of social distancing. They are a great channel for keeping in touch and marketing.  At Nijhawan Group, we have been actively hosting webinars for our partners, agents, DMC’s, Tour Operators etc. for keeping them updated and staying connected during these tough times. 

To sum up, the fact is that in these challenging times marketing is often the last thing on people’s minds. But as marketers, we have to turn challenges into opportunities. While the pandemic has created many obstacles, it has also inspired in us the spirit of solicitude, inventiveness and collaboration and that is what will lead us to new opportunities- no matter big or small. 

About the Author

Priyanka Nijhawan runs the representation vertical of Nijhawan Group and is the Director of the Dubai Tourism India Representative Office. An authority in travel marketing, it is under her leadership that the group successfully represents leading luxury hotels such as the Armani Hotel in Dubai, Address Hotels and Resorts in Dubai, Vida Hotels & Resorts in Dubai, The Aitken Spence Hotels in Sri Lanka, Adaaran Island Resorts in Maldives, amongst others. 

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