The first case of the Coronavirus was announced in China on December 31st and just 3 weeks later, the first case in the United States followed. As China begins returning to work 10 weeks after the first announcement, many in the US are wondering how this will impact our economy and how long we should be bunkering down. While we can’t answer those questions for the general population, we can give our opinion as it pertains to our clients in the tourism and hospitality space.
There are multiple schools of thought in the travel, tourism and meeting planner industries. One of those is to pull back now and save your budgets for another time when people aren’t afraid to travel. Another looks at this as a golden opportunity to increase market share with an aggressive advertising strategy despite present concerns. We’re not suggesting you continue with your advertising of old; however, there might be opportunities you haven’t considered when looking at some of the following factors.
You’re going to have different opinions when it comes to conservative versus aggressive marketing strategies but the more advertisers pull back, the more your marketing message becomes the dominant story. With less competition in the marketplace, this could lead to a pricing advantage in your media buys as well as the potential to completely own the category.
It might feel like your audience is held captive, but consider the digital marketing opportunities with more people moving to a remote working situation. Paid search, social and video ads become primary resources for future trip planning. If your audience is home with nothing else to do, isn’t it also safe to say that a number of people stuck at home are going to be planning future trips to get out of their home? If for nothing else, planning for future trips with down time seems to be a past-time everywhere!
Day Trip or Remote Destinations
In North Carolina, the universities have extended Spring Break by a week and are planning on online education until further notice. This means a drive to the beach or the mountains with their off-peak pricing could be the best idea ever! And even if people aren’t ready to pack up and go this minute, ensuring your brand is in front of them when they are ready will provide a huge advantage for months and years to come.
Media Planning Also Means Adapting Creative
Sure, there are other things you will need to consider in all of this – such as, if your destination is about ‘getting away from it all’ (a much easier sell!) versus the new Star Wars attraction at Disney with a million of your closest friends (probably a little more challenging – but having just done the ride, it WAS amazing). Also, will people need to fly to your destination or are you within driving distance? Airlines could create opportunities such as “buy now with no cancellation fees” to remedy concerns, while day-trip drives are pretty much the perfect sell to get away to that remote beach or mountain destination! Your creative will need to speak to the concerns while presenting solutions – but we believe there is a great marketing opportunity despite these unprecedented times. There will be challenges but staying the course, and even increasing exposure, will create more opportunities and help build brand awareness.
We would love to hear your thoughts – and for full disclaimer, we are not oblivious to the health concerns of what the world is facing. We are not medical professionals, so we are only commenting on the media opportunities presented for an industry that might be hyper-focused on today rather than the long-term. Our thoughts are with the entire world as we go through these times together!