COVID-19, Corona Virus, lockdown.
Call it what you will, the impact and effect of this unprecedented time is being felt by all. Understandably, many are in a state of continued panic. Livelihoods are on the line. Many in the tourism and hospitality space don’t only bear this pressure on behalf of their families, but also employees and their families too, who work in their hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfast establishments.
My heart goes out to you all at this time. You are daily in my thoughts as we navigate these uncharted waters.
But I’m a practical chap and as much as I believe we need to take time to feel the pain of the loss we are experiencing, we also need to be thinking about the future. And plan for it. The problem is there is no right or wrong answer to any question posed at the moment. Simply put – no-one knows what we should be doing. All we can do is action the best plan we can conceive.
Continuing to market to your audience is vital during lockdown. Even though you cannot receive customers into your property/restaurant or venue right now, you must remain front-of-mind with them. They will be what drives your comeback when lockdown regulations are eased. And talking to them only at that point means you will miss the #RebootTourism boat. It’s a no-brainer really.
Hence I thought I would share four marketing strategies I believe every tourism and hospitality business should be actioning right now, during lockdown.
The humble newsletter! The proverbial poor cousin of many a hospitality business. That continued one thing on the To-Do List that just never seems to get done, and receives at best, minimal time input into it.
Now’s the time to rethink this approach. With time on your hands, restrategise the layout, tone and general feel of this vital marketing tool. Check out Canva for a really easy to use design tool with many templates to inspire just about anyone. I use this excellent resource daily, and they have a great free option too.
Your revitalised newsletter is a great soft-sell method to stay front of mind and share some personal, lockdown-inspired stories with your audience. The more relatable and front of mind you remain during this period, the more likely it is that those feet will be walking through your door soon.
Beware though – take caution with regards to the frequency you issue your bomb-newsletter. Don’t become a spammer. If you were sending it out monthly, don’t start sending out every third day. Not cool. Twice a month would be a good start.
Like I said at the start of this post, everything has changed. So too will traveller demographics post Covid-19. Domestic tourism will be the driver of the #RebootTourism Revolution and you need to consider which niche your customers will be sourced from.
Travel, as we know, will not operate on the same basis and I see new emerging traveller classes. From Staycationers, to those looking to self quarantine at a place other than home, we are only now getting to grips with this shift. Identify what your operation is best suited to offer and which niche you will be serving.
And start talking to them now.
When lockdown hit here in South Africa, my friend and fellow travel writer Di Brown aka The Roaming Giraffe and I put our heads together and came up with a new concept. We call it Virtual Bucket List.Guru. It is a platform that curates special offers in the South African tourism and hospitality industry, some at discounts of up to 50%, and is our way of working with the industry we call home, to give it the hope of a future. We are marketing South Africa to South Africans.
Virtual Bucket List.Guru is a win-win for both the tourism and hospitality operator as well as the consumer. Great deals aplenty and no payment is made until the experience is enjoyed at the future date. Even better, our service does not cost the operator anything until a booking is made and paid for by the consumer. Yip, no listing fees or monthly hosting fees! And we will market your offer to our combined audience of engaged accounts. Di and I are putting our money where our digital mouths are.
No date for the booking is required. It is a commitment to ‘future travel’ and hospitality services by fellow South Africans.
Operators can start the listing process via this link on Virtual Bucket List.Guru. There are many other great specialist sites which will give you access to your niche, search them out!
Local has never been so lekker (if you’re not South African [shame], this means ‘enjoyable’). Domestic tourism will be the driver of the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector here in South Africa. And you need to be prepared for the wave. People have been restricted to their homes and, at the appropriate time, will want to travel around our beautiful country. It’s in our genes as South Africans.
Day Trips and Road Trips will once again be the flavour of our sector, for some time. Look at your business and pivot to meet the new demand we will be experiencing. Are you a restaurant – relook at your menu to cater to authentic local cuisine, perhaps a menu redesign that speaks to the local traveller. Picnic baskets and day packs will be in high demand.
Are you a hotel, guesthouse or bed and breakfast – find out about local attractions in your area that you could suggest to local travellers staying with you. Forget the cliched, foreigner-only-loving type activities and suggest some local gems in your very neighbourhood or small town. Experience is the name of the game, get your research game on!
Of-course all these activities are listed on our new platform Virtual Bucket List.Guru – we’ve done all the work for you!
So there you have it. Four simple marketing strategies you can get working on now, and in doing so, make this lockdown period work for you and your business. Let me know how you get on!
Stay healthy and safe during this difficult time.