As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage on, the world is learning how to cope with it and businesses are looking for new opportunities the crisis presents. In the travel and leisure industry – my closer area of expertise – professionals are already brainstorming now not only about how to survive, but also how to use these unusual times to improve and innovate.
To side with their peers on the client side, PR professionals are now seeking ways to help their clients and further their own expertise and service offering in travel and leisure.
What follows are a few new angles travel businesses and communicators can work on together to come out of the crisis stronger, or even renewed.
A steady element in my recipe for success is mixing and matching what the world is demanding and how people feel. This thinking can present a number of new angles – both for business and for communication.
Micro-tourism – It simply means travel in small. Focusing on things nearby, shifting destinations to local. Many regions and towns have turned to promoting their existing offering to the people who live nearby – who can still make the travel even if borders may be closed from foreign tourists and who can become regulars if they enjoy the experience.
This is surely a different target audience and story angles and messages need to be rebuilt to touch these people. Even if this target group is close and is almost neighbors to the promoted region, there are so many things in our destination still undiscovered by them and so many features that haven’t been brought to their attention just because they were so close and not targeted before.
Build for future – Or what you might call sustainable travel, which is often called “eco-tourism” or as most recently put by The New York Times: “regenerative travel”. It involves that travelers do not simply go to a beautiful beach or resort but also leave behind something good for the future and for the future visitors.
In my home country, for example, if you visit the native Ainu village in Hokkaido, Japan, you can learn about the indigenous culture and history and experience its treasures with help from professional guides, who also pay attention to support visitors with messages for the word-of-mouth promotion they are most likely to do after they leave this miraculous place.
As another example, client ClubMed offers an ocean coral rebirth program at its Maldives resorts, encouraging guests to plant baby corals before they leave this ocean wonderland. Apparently, the pandemic is teaching all of us to discover and appreciate the true values we have to maintain for future generations.
Workation – means work and vacation in one. Many people’s working styles have changed to respond to the new circumstances inflicted on us by Covid-19 and are already becoming the new normal. Also, seeking work-life-balance is increasingly on everyone’s top of mind. In this new environment, hotels can go beyond the stereotype of accommodating either leisure or business travelers only. How could anyone start their workday better than by enjoying a fresh breeze in a morning walk in the mountains and then connect with colleagues online with a coffee outside? This is now real and available to many. Hoteliers and their marketers should remember there are many different reasons for people to travel.
As PR professionals, we can do a lot to help our clients in hard-hit sectors to build their new target audiences and create new opportunities for business. As a start, we can develop new stories for them.