These days – now and for the foreseeable future – all of American life is focused on staying home, staying safe and staying healthy. Americans are social distancing and working from home, and with more restaurants, businesses, attractions, parks and beaches closed and slowly re-opening, they will be spending the majority of their time in their homes and in safe surroundings. They are surrounded with crisis and noise across all channels: TV, radio, social feeds, the internet, friends, family, neighbors and employers.
As consumers remain isolated and immobilized, they are spending more time online, looking for anything to escape their physical, emotional and psychological state. There will be an increase in the desire to be social, get outdoors and “be” anywhere other than their current surroundings. During this time, authentic brand connections will be more crucial than ever in the new normal as consumers become more discerning about how they spend their free time in the future. Coming out of this, they will have pent up demand for travel. How can we capture the attention of the consumers for destinations and destination partners? How can we offer hope and provide inspirational environments for visitors to dream about where they most wish to escape to after the crisis clears?
As many travel and tourism brands hit the pause button on planned marketing, we believe there is merit in taking a mindful approach to communication efforts. This involves giving consumers relevant, practical information, as well as reassurance that things will eventually return to a new normal. Until then, we can encourage them to take a break and dream. Rather than self-promotion, the message should be inspirational, compassionate and service-oriented. Messages should feel authentic and spontaneous, rather than staid and static, and be flexible enough to be responsive and proactive. This is a full-circle approach where a need is identified and addressed, which, if managed correctly, will result in more long-term sustainability and a solid connection. We needed to find ways to keep our clients engaged with targets even though travelers cannot visit. We had to provide consumers with information that would be welcome and relevant to them in their current situation. And we needed to inspire audiences, grow brand affinity and maintain loyalty until it is safe to travel again.