(W)right On Communications kicked off its Next 25 series with an expert panel on the future of sustainable tourism and travel including Visit Napa Valley, Lowe, Archer Aviation and TravelPulse.Continue reading
By Licia Walsworth — Communications Strategist travel
What may have started as a year full of excitement about cruises to tropical islands, getaways to the mountains, or first trips to magical theme parks has deflated into canceled plans, disappointment, and postponed dreams for travelers. travel
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for travel brands.
The spirit of travel is ingrained in us. Being confined for too long takes its mental and physical toll.
According to a recent Destination Analysts survey, almost half of American travelers are open to receiving news and updates about exciting travel destinations. People crave the mental break of reminiscing about places they have visited or dreaming of places they still want to go.
By adopting what is working in today’s unfamiliar travel PR and marketing territory, your brand could still find its voice and have it stand out over the crowd.
1. Silence Is Not Golden travel
The knee-jerk reaction of most brands was to halt all advertising and social media posts immediately. These companies perceived it as the only way to survive. But silence is not always golden. Skift.com recently highlighted how Booking Holdings and their sub-brands (like Booking.com and Agoda) successfully increased their market share over other travel companies, simply by staying the course. Consumers continued to see their advertising — and reacted with their wallets. In the grand scheme of things, Booking Holdings’ overall revenue was down, as it was for most travel brands during this time, but they grew their market share on Trivago from 39% to 54% year over year.
What’s the lesson? You may not be able to grow your market but you can take market share from your competitors and be better positioned as the market recovers. Wouldn’t we all like to see our share of the proverbial pie grow in those kinds of increments? As the age-old saying goes, out of sight, out of mind.
2. The Open Road Is Calling travel
In the same Destination Analysts survey, over 50% of respondents stated they would take a road trip over air travel in the next six months. That means it’s time for destinations to start investing in their own backyards. The drive market is calling. Even the New York Times is drawing attention to the nostalgia of road trip travel from decades ago when packing everyone in the family car and hitting the open road was the norm for summer vacations. Summers at the shore, camping in the mountains, and hiking in the forests have become welcome visuals overcrowded theme parks, city centers, and cruise ships.
The lesson is to let the drive market know you are there, what you offer (family drive-in movies in your parking lot? Drive through grab and go breakfasts?), and how you can help them save that much-needed family vacation— all to help boost your current business with the potential to create lasting loyalty and travel traditions for years to come.
3. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
PerformanceIN suggests that now is the time to leverage your relationships, affiliates, and partners across the industry to find mutually beneficial outcomes. Travel bloggers, media influencers, and attractions need to work together to reach their target audiences, maintain consistent messaging, and make the consumer feel confident about the travel experiences they are considering. Find ways to work with the media to promote how safe, comfortable, and enjoyable your destination is.
While many destinations and resorts have been afraid to host media or influencers given they can’t deliver the full experience or support their site visit with the normal level of service, these writers and personalities are hungry to travel and engage with your brand and share positive socially distanced experiences with their readers and followers. You can also partner with attractions or restaurants to become a sort of one-stop-shop offering value-based add-ons to your clients’ stay. As households plan their travel, they’re looking for space and safety, not for discounts, so don’t chase this market down: add value instead through partnerships. It’s an opportunity to create a win-win situation, and spreading the wealth could be mutually beneficial not only now, but as the basis for long-lasting collaborations into the future.
The lesson here is while we can’t get together physically, we can partner virtually to get messages out and create the best possible travel experience for guests and visitors.
4. Visual Shopping – It’s a Buyers’ Market
The booking window for travel is shrinking — dramatically. Leisure travel used to have an average lead time of 28 to 90 days. According to Phocuswire, that window has whittled down to seven days. And in this period of stress, uncertainty, and distraction, time is of the essence. Consumers want to know that your destination is safe. They want to reassurance that safety protocols are being followed. They want to know that you know what you are doing. And they want to know that as soon as they get to your website.
Making it hard for them to find what they are looking for can mean one of two things: They will simply move on to your competitor’s site, or, they’ll call your hotel for this information, taking up the time of an already busy front-office worker. Don’t make the consumer do the work. Be proud of your message of safety — get it front and center. A video is the best way to show the consumer you mean business. Check out these videos we produced for Welk Resorts and the San Diego Tourism Authority for some great ways to let consumers know you mean business.
The lesson here is to show consumers your health and safety practices to build their confidence and secure their business. Let them see firsthand the steps your company is taking to ease any stress they may be feeling about their trip. Reach out if we can help you create your visual selling tool.
5. Personalization Fulfills Expectations
During a crisis, people want to know they are being heard. They want to be shown compassion. And they want to be able to let their guard down. It all starts with trust. Letting your consumer know that you hear and understand them and that you will cater to their needs speaks volumes. As Salesforce’s leading hospitality and tourism executive told Skift.com, lost are the days where frequent stays will increase a traveler’s loyalty status level. To win them over now, it’s time to get personal and customize their experience. Their information is at your fingertips — from their booking preferences to their age, hometown, and contact information. Building custom- experiences based on the knowledge you already possess will continue to make that customer brand-loyal for life.
According to Skift, more than 80% of customers said they experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. When you are thinking of your next mass e-blast or social media campaign, ask yourself how it speaks to your end consumer, specific personas, or the actual individuals receiving or engaging with your content. Does it get to them on an emotional level?
This lesson is that actively building connections will always yield higher returns than simply hoping for the best. One of my favorite mentors always said: “Hope is not a strategy.” Know your audience and what makes them tick. Then offer it to them. They will thank you in return.
Remember that this too shall pass. While we can’t know how quickly, we can continue to be present, be mindful of our message, and make the most of your assets to sell your story. The only direction to look is forward. Use thoughtful resources to guide your communications. Make every interaction intentional and meaningful. Consumers will remember — and will thank you for it.
By Shae Geary— Senior Communications Strategist
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic making strategic hospitality communications more important than ever for our hotels, resorts and destinations. While press trips and event promotion may be paused, there’s a critical need for hospitality communications that build trust and confidence around visiting your destination or property.
Prioritize SafetyVisitors won’t return if they don’t feel safe, and it’s not enough to assume that your guests know what you are doing to maximize safety, cleanliness and hygiene. A good place to start is a dedicated landing page on your website with detailed information, then linking to this page in your direct-to-consumer communications. In the age of visual shopping, you may even want to consider creating a video like this one that we created with Welk Resorts. There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace right now and by appropriately highlighting your company safety standards and new protocols, you’ll help visitors feel confident and secure in their decision to vacation with you.
Emphasize Social DistancingIn the age of pandemic, it’s no surprise that outdoor-oriented, uncrowded activities and settings are top priorities for potential guests. Your hospitality communications should be updated to reflect this trend. Take time to assess your content library. If your images and messaging are lacking, consider a refresh now. Imagery that includes hotel room balconies, for instance, may be much more attractive to potential visitors than an interior guest room shot. Restaurant images that emphasize open-air patios and socially distanced tables as well as shots of outdoor activities like bike riding also will appeal to today’s consumer. Consider using these images prominently on your website, social media and guest communications.
Embrace Local and Drive Market MediaWith reduced budgets and staff, it’s critical that time and energy are directed to hospitality communications efforts that result in the highest return on investment. With road trips and local travel recommended as the safer option in the short term, a priority should be placed on working with travel media and influencers in your closest drive markets. These media professionals are eager to help travel recover and know that there is pent-up demand for getting away. Use them to help deliver your safety messages and information about what to expect during a visit. People know that the experience won’t be what it was pre-pandemic and are ready to embrace the positives in what is being offered. Third-party recommendations can go a long way toward ensuring potential visitors that a visit can meet social distancing requirements while also being fun and relaxing.
Monitor NIMBY ConcernsAccording to the most current destination research, a majority of residents remain wary about other travelers visiting their communities. As tourism reopens, it’s important for hospitality communicators to monitor the local sentiment and potential negative pushback, while being prepared to develop campaigns showing the positive impact of tourism and its vital contribution to the local economy. Proactive outreach as well as savvy online reputation management are a must.
Don’t Overlook Internal CommunicationDuring a crisis, especially a prolonged crisis, it’s important to deliver regular updates and expectations to your employees. These communications can include everything from information about what’s open to safety protocol reminders and even helpful tips for dealing with difficult situations unique to the pandemic such a visitor refusing to wear a mask. Delivering these on a regular schedule in a snackable format can help reassure staff and avoid harmful speculation. Furloughed employees, especially if you are intending to hire them back, also should not be overlooked. Periodic check-ins, even if nothing has changed in terms of business status, can go a long way toward building continued loyalty so that they will return when you need them.
Retain Hospitality PR Professionals to HelpStrategic hospitality communications are essential for navigating your business rebound during these exceptional times. If you need help getting started, developing a strategy, or determining best practices, a hospitality PR agency is a great solution for maximizing your budget, even if it is just for the short term. Give us a call or email for a free consultation or to discuss your needs.
By Shae Geary- Senior Communications Strategist
Industry trends are always a great place to mine for story ideas, especially when working with travel and hospitality clients. Some trends, like Pokemon Go! getaways, are short lived. Others, such as eco-travel, tend to define a whole generation and can change the nature of the industry forever. As the year draws to a close, we can’t resist looking ahead and seeing what’s in store for 2017. While none of us claim to have a crystal ball, here are a few trends (W)right On is keeping an eye on for the new year.
Smart Technology: Mobile technology will continue to play a significant role in making travel more convenient and streamlined. Smart companies are embracing the technology and enhancing the visitor experience by putting decision making in the palm of your hand. Expect activities such as checking in to your hotel, controlling the temperature of your room and booking activities all from your phone to become the new “normal.”
Digital Detox: While technology may be making travel more convenient, there’s also a backlash to the digital overload of daily life. The response? Innovative programs and services that allow travelers to get off the grid for a while. Wellness-focused offerings such as digital detox spa retreats, as well as activities like forest bathing, which encourage visitors to completely disconnect and revel in the natural world, will give travelers the peace and rejuvenation they seek.
Hipster Holidays: Thanks to the millennial generation, more travelers are choosing to explore lesser known cities and destinations. Along with the desire to go to unique places, this group also seeks authenticity and genuine, local experiences. While not a new trend for 2017, hyper-local activities and edgier, undiscovered venues will continue to appeal to this highly influential, independent traveler.
Beer-cations: Craft beer is having a moment. For the travel industry this has meant an increase in travelers who specifically seek out destinations with a strong craft beer vibe. Taprooms, beer events and other tasting experiences are the cornerstone of the beer-cation experience. However, look for the theme to show up in unexpected ways, too. On your next vacation, don’t be surprised if you are tempted by a beer-infused spa treatment or a “beer-tail” that features a unique blend of craft beer and traditional cocktail ingredients.
Solo Travel: At a recent media event, I was surprised when not one, but two female writers admitted that they enjoyed camping alone. It turns out that this may not be as surprising as it seems. According to Lonely Planet, a recent survey of 300 travelers indicated a majority of respondents planned to take a solo holiday in the coming year. Easy access to travel planning resources and the ability to stay connected while on the road are thought to be key influences in this current travel trend. Solo travelers like that they can set their own itinerary and feel that the experience enables them to more easily meet new people and immerse themselves in the local culture and surroundings.
What travel trends have you noticed that seem to be gaining in popularity? Drop us a note and let us know!
Twitter's New Buy Button Ready to Shake Up Your World
In today’s digital-loving environment, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t shop online. Retailers tempt with exclusive products, special deals and shipping incentives; and Cyber Monday is quickly on its way to taking over Black Friday, just about the biggest brick-and-mortar shopping day ever. So e-commerce has the world wrapped around its proverbial finger – but what about s-commerce? Yes, s-commerce, or social media commerce, is A Thing. Platforms like The Fancy (like a purchase-minded Pinterest) are in on the game, and Facebook started sussing out a Buy button in July. But people today move at a rapid-fire pace, and need something to keep up – enter Twitter’s new Buy button.“We are beginning to test a new way for you to discover and buy products on Twitter,” the company announced last week. “This is an early step in our building functionality into Twitter to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy, hopefully even fun. Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and act on them right in the Twitter app.” Already tested out by influential retailers, nonprofts and music acts including Burberry, The Nature Conservancy and Pharrell Williams, the “Buy” button works like it sounds – within the Twitter app, users can view a tweet offering a product. If they like what they see, they simply need to tap “Buy Now” to pull up more details, enter shipping and payment info and – done. Although results of the test run haven’t been provided, we at WOC think this will be a game-changer in terms of how brands do business on the Web – and on social media to boot. It’s a streamlined and straightforward way to make a purchase, and it’s intuitive – it speaks to the ever-present need to get things done and get them done fast. Where networks like The Fancy and Facebook encourage browsing, Twitter’s buying feature works just like the platform itself – real-time and easily consumed on the go. This tool is in beta for just the elite members of the Twitterverse for the time being, but it doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead. Brands with marketable goods and services are wise to start thinking about how they can leverage this for success once it’s available to all. Sure, clothes and music are a great fit for this, but ponder how you can step outside the box and be an early adopter in your industry. For hotels, for example, this feature could act as an excellent sales tool. When new seasonal packages or meetings promotions roll around, tweet them out with the option to buy. Booking directly isn’t supported (yet), but a Twitter follower could easily purchase a voucher and connect with you to arrange their visit. You could take it one step further and create a great first impression, as well as maybe secure a true social media evangelist – when Twitter-sourced fans check in, greet them with a special treat and a note encouraging them to tweet about their stay with a preset hashtag. Nonprofits could use “Buy Now” to sell event tickets and donations by creating buy amounts, then let people buy $5, $10, $20 and so on. Much easier to manage – and more likely to make people feel at ease – than a buy-with-hashtag situation. Or, for agencies or inidviduals touting thought leadership, you could peddle whitepapers and access to webinars reserved just for your loyal Twitter fans. Any brand could build excitement and high-quality followers by releasing regular specials on a certain day, too – people would quickly look forward to “Travel Deal Thursday” or “Webinar Wednesday.” Have you tried out s-commerce, or will you now that it’s becoming so easy? Talk to us about it @wrightoncomm. By Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist