Many travel companies have cut all of their marketing expenses during Covid-19, which ultimately hurt.
A recent survey from MMGY Travel Intelligence and Destinations found that 80% of destination organizations surveyed in North America have delayed sales and marketing efforts. Airbnb recently announced a pause in all marketing, saving $ 800 million this year. Ryanair Chief Michael O’Leary also stated that travel offers and ‘seat sales’ during the crisis were ‘irresponsible’.
With impacts on the travel industry likely to be worse than the effects of 9/11 and the 2008 recession combined, the industry needs to be prepared not only for the current disruption, but also for its aftermath. With many uncertainty factors surrounding the pandemic, including the scale of the impact and its length, there is no doubt that the travel industry will be hit hard. Travel companies and destination market organizations (DMOs) need to have a comprehensive plan to reduce impacts.
It could be very easy to cut all marketing costs while travel is not permitted, because the initial thought was that it was not needed when ‘lying low’. The Nepal Tourism Board has officially ended the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, which aims to target two million foreign visitors, doubling the number by 2019.
Countries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as Italy and Spain, must step up efforts to push tourism again to these popular destinations. Their reputation as a safe destination can be reduced, so the DMO needs to increase efforts in this tourism-dependent economy.
Some DMOs have made reasonable efforts to maintain awareness of the objectives during the pandemic. Visit Britain, Discover Puerto Rico, and Visit Philly (Philadelphia, United States), are just a few examples of destinations that offer virtual tours to these destinations during the Covid-19 crisis. Offering an experience that can be enjoyed while obeying government travel restrictions is a fantastic idea, and utilizing the current situation.
Because many source markets around the world are placed on lockdown throughout the country, with hospitality and retail places closed, travelers are often at home, hoping to travel again once restrictions have been lifted. Evidence shows that travelers are still looking for, and book holidays for later this year, highlighting the need for marketing not to stop. Those who do not stop marketing expenses will be in a good position to exploit pent-up demand.
There needs to be a travel industry to return. Cutting marketing expenses completely will have long-term losses for their operations. If marketing expenses are halved, the impact on awareness will be far less even if costs will be saved. However, its ability to do so depends on the brand and market recognition of the travel company. Re-prioritizing marketing channels at this time and creating a ‘bounce back’ marketing campaign because when altitude has passed it will help the company and long-term goals when travelers want to travel again.
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