If you are in the tourism and hospitality industry, it has definitely been a rough past few months. Nearly all sectors of businesses worldwide are facing challenges during this time but the travel and tourism industry has been hit worst by the corona pandemic. As a result, most operators have put their businesses to a halt waiting for the situation to subside.

This reaction is very understandable on a human level because not everyone can easily choose to move forward in the midst of uncertainty. However, from a business standpoint, it is dangerous to completely halt your operations because of a temporary disaster. Temporary can be a few hours, a few days, a few weeks and in this case, it could stretch to a few months.

It is dangerous because you risk being forgotten and you also risk missing out on emerging critical trends and tactics which may take you more time and expenses to adapt.

You may ask, “What can I do when business activity is on lockdown?”

The short answer is—MARKETING!

P.S Marketing is not selling—just so we’re clear, marketing involves determining and meeting customers’ needs; these needs go beyond just the packages, rooms, or experiences you sell. Selling is directly persuading and convincing people to buy your stuff.

Marketing is your best shot at staying relevant, competitive, and ready for the time when business resumes. It’s unfortunate that COVID-19 hit at the beginning of the year when most of us had already laid out marketing plans but there are ways to pivot your strategy.

So, let’s dive in…

How to approach marketing during the crisis

Clean up & catch-up

Do you remember how many times you thought about getting a business website, creating a company social media page, fixing your search engine appearance? Remember all the digital marketing activities you put off in the name of “saving” money?

Well, right now and for the next foreseeable future, digital is your business’ best friend (probably even only friend). You have the time now and most services are discounted so take this opportunity to clean up your company’s digital appearance.

When this crisis passes, you will not have time to set up from scratch, be the brand that is ready to go as soon as the gates open.

Re-Evaluate Your Strategy

A travel business’s main objective during a crisis is to ease the minds of current and potential tourists—give reassurance that you are still in business and that things in your country aren’t as bad as they appear to be on the news. You have to rethink your content strategy and how you can best utilize each social media platform to strengthen relationships with your market.

The biggest issue with small business owners is that they maintain a highly transactional relationship with customers; one where they don’t pay enough attention to brand building. It’s a toxic approach because it makes you seem like you only care about people if they are paying you for a service. A brand minded business will always win because even when people aren’t ready or able to buy, you’re still helpful, empathetic, educational & entertaining.

In a time of crisis, rather than attempt to generate bookings, find ways to provide comfort and valuable information to your visitors.

Be part of the COVID Conversation

It’s important for you to be proactive in your messaging—stay in the know of how the virus is affecting your location and the destinations you serve and understand how to best to sieve the information in a way that educates and empathizes with your visitors. Be careful though, your audience is probably overwhelmed with COVID updates and some are confused and scared amid the pandemic, so make sure you approach COVID posts with tact.

Some examples could be adding a COVID-19 resource page on your website; you can choose to update it with news from your country of origin or residence or even simple survival and safety tips. From these tips, you can pick and publish social media status updates once in a while.

So, what is your business doing during this trying time?

A “wait-and-see” approach is not going to help your business. If you are to take away one thing from this article, let it be this: if you wait for the “mess” to end for you to “resume” business, you will be too late—behind the world.

Many of our website service clients are in the tourism sector, and, we sincerely extend our sympathy for how the year has turned out so far. Keep believing in your vision though and while you can’t keep operating fully, you can keep moving; slow down but don’t shut down!

If you are reading this and you are an entrepreneur or business manager, you can partner with SMAT Marketing to help you navigate this crisis on matters regarding digital marketing. Contact us to request a FREE consultation today. Also FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Linkedin; these tips keep coming.