Successful Strategies That Can Help Destinations Connect During COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic continues to present challenges to destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Even as we turn towards recovery and reopening, promoting a destination and reaching travelers isn’t easy. But there are plenty of creative strategies that can boost your signal during this unprecedented time. Below, check out a handful of recent successful COVID strategies.
Virtual Media Events and Press Previews
As we’ve noted previously, media events and FAM trips have had to rapidly evolve during the pandemic. But there are still creative (and even fun) ways to reach journalists and influencers in the virtual space. Case in point: a recent National Cheese Day online event that TURNER put together with our partners at Travel Wisconsin — the Virtual Cheesecation Experience.
More than 30 media, representing 90+ outlets, received a curated Cheesecation delivery, before virtually arriving at Destination: Cheesecation from their at-home setting for an elevated cheese tasting tour. Tour guides, Wisconsin Cheese and Travel Wisconsin virtually transported media to coveted cheese caves, beautiful dairy farms and meetings with expert cheesemakers and more.
Interactive surprises were featured throughout the “trip” for optimal engagement. Polls, custom video footage, and a souvenir gift shop experience transformed the virtual event into something truly memorable, showcasing award winning Wisconsin cheese and key tourist attractions across the state.
The travel agent isn’t going anywhere. As consumers look for expertise and confidence in what, where and how to book, travel professionals will play an increased role in destination recovery. That’s why now is a great time for destinations to strengthen their relationships with travel trade audiences, such as travel advisors and tour operators.
A webinar tactic is nothing new, but it’s become especially valuable during this time of social distancing. In partnership with several destination clients, TURNER recently developed a series of webinars aimed at educating the travel advisor community on various domestic travel experiences travelers could look forward to as places opened up. Post-coronavirus, travel agents were already shifting their focus to sell new destinations that they may not have considered selling before or were looking to brush up on their destination knowledge.
Each 30-minute webinar was chock full of key info that would be useful for travel advisors looking for new, fresh ways to sell a destination to their clients. In addition to TURNER’s moderator, a designated spokesperson from each destination presented the training deck and handled the subsequent Q&A portion of the event.
These travel trade webinars were a hit with both the destinations and the travel advisor audiences, and they’ll be an ongoing part of our efforts in the upcoming months. In a span of two weeks, we trained more than 200 travel advisors… To get involved or to be invited to join this travel advisor training series, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaming up with online publications has proven to be a great way to build relationships with the media during COVID-19. These outlets are in dire need of fresh content — and destinations can provide plenty of it.
In recent months, TURNER has been facilitating a number of “digital takeovers” on the Instagram accounts for TripSavvy, TheSpruceEats, Tasting Table and Liquor.com. With a range of followers from 200K to 900K on these platforms, clients will be able to get massive (and free) exposure.
During these digital takeovers, destinations will be able to tailor their content to each platforms’ existing audience. Approaches include chef cooking videos, local restaurant showcases, destination fun facts and virtual tours. With a minimum amount of heavy lifting, destinations will be able to tap into a sizable audience of potential travelers and to connect in a meaningful and authentic way.
Takeaways: COVID Strategies
- Strengthening relationships with travel trade is key during this period.
- Virtual events can be creative, quirky and fun.
- Media outlets are on the lookout for high-quality content and are actively seeking partnerships with destinations.
- Travel trade and media are eager to experience destinations virtually.
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