These are exciting times in the travel and tourism industry, with most businesses open or preparing to reopen soon. These are also uncertain times as no one is quite sure what the “new normal” will look like.
While there is no textbook or roadmap available to provide a clear path on what to expect and how to respond to business challenges in the tourism industry, it can help to band together and learn from one another. For DMOs and TPAs who plan to reopen and aim to increase bookings in the coming months but are not sure what that will look like, you are not alone.
The team at Improve & Grow sent out a survey via email and on social media to businesses in the destination marketing and tourism industries. The survey asked questions about the topics of reopening, booking volume, and marketing budgets and tactics.
If you’re unsure about reopening and how your business stacks up to others in your market, we’ve compiled the survey results to shed some light on these areas. You can also find survey results from CMI Media Group and Trip Advisor.
The Current Climate of Business
Across the board, bookings have been down significantly for most businesses, but all are starting to see a pickup. While many businesses are still closed or are just beginning to open back up, most companies are adapting their operations to accommodate social distancing guidelines.
In our survey of tourism business owners, we found that 56% of travel and tourism businesses are currently closed to the public. If you’re still not open and are not sure when you will be, don’t feel discouraged. 26% of our respondents are still unsure if they will be opening in the foreseeable future.
As tourism businesses do begin to reopen, new safety measures and business operations are a guarantee. Of our respondents, 47% of open businesses just reopened to the public in the last few weeks. While they continue to figure out what this “new normal” looks like, you can see how other businesses’ messaging plans to change this year.
In a CTM Media Group survey, messaging around social distancing, cleaning efforts, limited capacities, and more will all be significant focuses in marketing and promotions.
Booking volume and revenue are a large subject of concern. Although income depends on bookings, reduced numbers of reservations are not only affecting you. In our survey, 87% of open businesses report 50% ore more decline in bookings. Though this may seem scary right now, many tourists are rescheduling their travels rather than simply canceling trips and outings altogether.
Since many people were forced to change their vacation and travel plans this spring and into the summer due to quarantine restrictions, customer mindsets trend towards positive outlooks. According to The Road to Recovery for the Global Travel and Hospitality Industry Survey done by TripAdvisor, 34% of consumers surveyed in late March reported rescheduling a trip due to COVID-19 rather than canceling it.
Two in five of those surveyed reported making changes to their travel plans due to travel restrictions in place or because their chosen destination was closed for visitors. This shows that their decision to postpone was not necessarily by choice.
Marketing Budgets and Tactics
As the travel climate continues to change, we find that many tourism businesses are pulling back in marketing. Less competition may represent an opportunity for others to grab market share.
In our survey, we found that 53% of open tourism businesses are spending less on marketing. Most businesses are also shifting those budgets to primarily digital marketing tactics. Email marketing and social media marketing are the dominant tactics we see emerging. While this isn’t a huge surprise, we found that many business owners are doing more of their marketing in-house to reduce costs.
Some tourism business owners are even trying some new things. Some businesses in complementary spaces are exploring co-marketing with other companies. Video marketing, including Facebook lives, are also catching wind.
In addition to general increases in social media marketing, donating tours, online gift certificates, and other digital ways to support businesses are being utilized by many marketers.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
If you’re interested in our full survey report, you can download a copy of the results. For businesses in Lancaster, you can also find resources for funding, personal protective equipment, and more at Recovery Lancaster.
As the country continues efforts towards reopening and a new sense of normal presents itself, banding together with others in your industry and local economy to support one another is essential.
Although things are uncertain at the moment, trends show that as consumer confidence returns, domestic travel will be the first to rebound. We are hopeful to see where that takes us all.