Digital Marketing for Tourism Industry Amidst COVID 19

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COVID-19 dealt a blow to a number of industries, with tourism taking the brunt unlike any other. Now that we’re eight months into the travel lockdown, tourism businesses are coming to terms with the fact that the “wait and see” simply won’t fly. It’s time to adapt, adjust, and move forward to attract revenue or close up shop for good. Since the latter is unacceptable, we turn your attention to your digital marketing strategy complete with five effective tips to rebooting your travel based business.

5 Tourism Sector Tips to Attracting Visitors Today (and Tomorrow) During the COVID 19 Crisis

1. Pay Attention to Staycationers

Few people can travel into your province or state, and few can travel out. That means locals are your low hanging fruit. How do you pick them? Through more relevant (to them) messaging.

If you don’t already, offer discounts for local residents and create or update landing pages that specifically to communicate these offers. Optimize each landing page for Google search to capture the keyword targets such as “(accommodation/attraction) discounts for locals in (your city)” as applicable to your tourism offering. Also target the word “Staycation” in your locale. People are so accustomed to the portmanteau that they are actually searching on Google for “staycation deals (your city)“. In addition to search-engine-optimizing your staycation deals landing pages, use them to drive local traffic via targeted PPC, email, and social media campaigns.

Beyond discounts, create useful and engaging content that targets locals. Take a hard look at your existing “what to do” types of articles, images, and videos. Are you focusing on locals or outside visitors? If the focus is on the latter you are neglecting to speak to your adjusted audience. Need an example? In our recent article about Digital Marketing for Resorts, we asked hoteliers to promote visitor experiences and recommended (as an example) creating a guide to the best hiking trails in the area. For out of city, province, or state visitors this is fairly easy, but when creating the same content for locals it needs to look much different. Is a Vancouver BC tourism business going to tell locals about hiking the Grouse Grind? They won’t even look at what they already know. Instead, you need to adjust your content strategy to focus on hidden gems in their own locale that they may not even know about, from secret beaches and off-the-grid hiking trails to diamond-in-the-rough eateries and tucked away boutique shops.

2. Geotarget to Attract Permitted Travelers

Out of province, state, and even international tourists are welcome to travel to some regions. As we speak provinces, states, and countries are even collaborating to create travel bubble programs (aka travel bridges) that allow an exchange of visitors between places. Whatever the case may be, you need to reach  travelers from within permitted locations. How do you do this? Through digital geotargeting.

Geotargeting in online marketing can be accomplished in a number of ways. With some advanced web design you can target a visitor’s location according to their IP, and/or WiFi / GPS data and deliver content that is more relevant to them. Let’s look to Manitoba as an example. At press, Manitobans returning to their province after vacationing in western Canada are not required (assuming good health) to self-isolate. In this case, a BC tourism business would be wise to geotarget traffic coming from Manitoba with specific banners and offers for Manitoba residents.

3. Keep Future Visitors Engaged Today

Whether you’re currently able to accept some visitors or none at all, it’s important to note that your website and social networks still have a very captive audience. The wanderlust bug is as infectious as ever before, and travelers are chomping at the bit to hop in a plane, train, or automobile. To bide the time they are consuming travel content at a record pace, but the problem is that many tourism businesses have taken their foot off of the gas, especially those who cannot yet accept visitors. Don’t be one of them. Instead, keep posting content on your website’s blog and social networks to keep future visitors highly engaged. They desperately want to read articles and see photos of the accommodations and attractions that are connected to your own offering.

If you keep them engaged through this trying time you build a loyal fan base that will remember that you were there for them throughout. Guess who they will come see (and spend with) as soon as they are able?

4. Build Your Email Lists

Even if your capacity to accept visitors is limited, you should be building up your email subscription list. You can limit certain content and/or reopening offer releases to those who subscribe, both of which are fairly standard practices. However, one of the most effective ways to gain subscribers during this unique time is to be their source of updates about traveling to your locale – one of their favorite destinations.

Encourage visitors to provide their email by letting them know that they will receive the most up to date news about the easing up of any and all restrictions. By receiving updates from you – a positive source of travel information versus fear-mongering media – they no longer need to refresh Google News to get updated about a destination they care deeply about. And of course, you can append offers to these updates to encourage purchases and early bookings.

5. Lay the Foundation for Reopening

As we alluded to multiple times above, a big part of your digital marketing strategy today is steeped in the fact that you will be reopening to the rest of the world very soon. The floodgates will open, and when they do an unprecedented wave of tourists will come pouring through. The revenue that was lost will return tenfold for those organizations who prepare for it. That means you should dedicate resources today for what is to come tomorrow. All of those things you put off while the gettin’ was good? It’s time to take care of them now. Were you thinking about a website redesign before all of this happened? How about a comprehensive SEO audit? Have you still not set up an Instagram profile? You can either get in shape or let yourself go through the COVID lockdown – we suggest that you opt for the former if you plan on reaping the rewards of a global reopening.

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