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Tourism in Crisis: How to Promote Business When Borders Are Closed



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As of today, it is hard to find an industry that did not suffer from consequences of COVID-19, but tourism suffered most: flights are stopped, borders are closed, tours are cancelled, and many travel agencies have to stop doing business.

In this regard, there is only one question: do travel brands need to continue marketing activities or suspend promotion?

Tourists miss travelling and are ready to absorb information online. During the quarantine, the web traffic in Russia has grown by 30%. At that, the traffic in social media and messengers grew four times, and its share in the total rate grew twice up to 18%. Video traffic increased by 40%.

At the same time, many travel companies cut or deny from paid promotion at all, and it means that a cost per contact in advertising networks is going down.

Borders will be opened in the coming months, and tourists will be open to travelling again. That is why we believe that it is no good to stop advertising campaigns but travel brands need to move away from a strategy ‘visit right now’ for a while and move to a new one ‘visit later’ for promotion.

Museums, galleries, theaters, zoos and many other venues of the whole world opened their doors for visitors online. During this short period of isolation, human perception of online events is going through sort of a transformation, and it is important for travel offices to get on the same online page and attract attention of the maximum number of potential tourists to their region.

We made a selection of marketing decisions that you can use to promote tourism in quarantine. Besides, on the assumption that advertising budgets have to be cut tremendously, we see a way out in changing an approach to a content strategy:

1. Go on maintaining social media accounts. If your region is not officially represented on VK, Instagram, or Facebook, it is high time to solve this issue.

2. Expand formats of content presentation and pay special attention to streams. When people all over the world stay at home, it is much easier to convince a famous cook or a local guide to go on the air for your followers, to tell about the region, to share some secrets, and to strengthen a desire of travellers from Russia to visit your region after the borders are reopened.

Anti-crisis content

  • Online broadcasts on how to cook following authentic recipes. These can be both the whole cooking process broadcast and certain secrets and ingredients that make cuisine in your region special. In order to engage users, suggest homemakers that they repeat it in their kitchens and share their results in comments.
  • Broadcasts of yoga or other sports that can be done without leaving home. Staying at home, we move much less—remind your followers of that and show that you care by doing such training activities (better regular ones).
  • Broadcasts of online events in the region or links to them. As we already noted above, theaters, museums, circuses show their performance live. Help tourists experience the culture of your region.
  • Language learning courses. Under a lockdown, online learning became one of the priority directions for pastime for Russian entrepreneurs. Share links to online courses or make posts with basic phrases that travellers may need during the travel. Teach now so that tourists could have one more reason to visit your country (language practice).
  • Online tours. If you have ready tours in AR/VR or 360° format, it is high time to remind your followers of them. What is more, you can suggest them to visit a certain place online and to advise how to get there. An alternative can be online tours with a guide across venues and landmarks of your region. Try to choose the most vibrant places, ones with interesting history or original layout so that potential tourists set their sights on visiting this very place in your region.
  • Tell how fighting COVID-19 goes in your region—keep users updated so that, after the borders are opened, they could be sure that one has already taken care of their safety in your region.

We recommend NTOs to pay special attention to the presentation of your region to Russian tour operators —this can be webinars, a series of online courses, or even an online platform for travel agents to learn all peculiarities of the travel direction offered.

After the borders were closed, organized tourists found themselves in a better position than individual ones. Tour operators used every effort to get travellers who purchased their tours back home. In this regard, we believe that more tourists will consider buying vouchers via travel agencies (at least, for the first little while after the quarantine is over).

Decision for your business

RMAA Travel, in its turn, is trying to help travel business develop in crisis. We came up with an anti-crisis service to organize and conduct online events for travel market actors (you can learn more about the service from our managers). Within the next few days, we will organize free webinars so that you could spend quality time and prepare for opening of a new tourist season.

Travel Research

The Russian Tourism Market Report: Trends, Analysis & Statistics | 2019. How to impress Russian tourists and attract them to your country

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About the Author

Head of Digital, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva

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