Of all the industries hit hard by Covid-19, it would be safe to claim that the travel industry has received the most devastating blow. Nearly a full year of hardly any tourists, no bookings, no guests, empty airlines and hotelbeds has led to staff and colleagues being laid off, travel agencies closed, tour operators ceased trading, low morale and bankruptcies.
Who oh who would have thought on New Year’s Eve 31 December 2019 – whilst toasting on a successful, happy, profitable and healthy 2020 – that the bottom would be swiped away under our feet by a virus – invisible to the naked eye. That we would be faced with an inconvenient truth: our everyday life and work will never be the same again. History books will talk about a Pre-Covid world and a Post-Covid world with the start of a ‘new normal’.
Despite all the misery poured over us as a result of the pandemic, it would be fair to say that it has also brought us something positive: our amazing resilience and ability to think outside the box, it has boosted creativity and innovation.
Maybe you should bin your marketing plan?
Conditions, trends, patterns, behaviour, requirements and wishes of consumers will change and this requires that you need to rethink your marketing strategy. In fact, for quite a few travel organisations it may be best if they bin their medium-term marketing plans. In case the Benelux (or just one of the three countries) are important markets for you or you are planning to enter this market, a word of warning for you as in the next decade you may be facing stiffer competition. Why? A recent report by leading Dutch tourism market research company ‘Trends and Tourism’ is indicating a revival of domestic tourism in the next decade, so more Dutch, Belgium and Luxembourg citizens will decide to holiday in their own country rather than travel abroad.Whilst in the past 5 tot 10 years many tourist boards (national, regional and city), hotel chains, museums, attarctions, etc were keen to invest in new and markets (often long-haul), Covid-19 should have made you realize that you cannot have it all. Rather than trying to reach half the world, it may be wiser to scale down on the number of markets that you are trying to reach but invest more in fewer markets!
Travel Public Relations will become a stronger necessity
It is pretty amazing that a strong city break destination like for example Amsterdam, local authories and the the tourist board Amsterdam & Partners are now planning to get rid of ‘cannabis tourists’ in order to reduce the large number of low-spending pizza tourists but instead aim for culturally interested higher income tourists. A drastic turnaround in their thinking – ‘flip thinking’ as they call it in English. Your organisation may also need to to flip its thinking… and ask yourself ‘Do I seriously want to invest in the Dutch or belgium market?’ Why? Because you will not only be facing – as in the past – competition from lots of other countries, but in the years to come a new competitor will start teasing you – interior tourism. So pose yourself an essential question: do I want to take the Dutch and/or Belgium/Luxembourg market seriously… or not? If yes, go for it full force and even consider investing in a professional PR agency service to get most out of your PR and marketing actions. If you are planning to launch one or two PR actions in this market, we would say this is pretty useless – penny wise and pound foolish. Forget about and use this budget for other A and B markets you are targetting. Less is more!