(Online) Marketing during the coronavirus pandemic
Can you do marketing during covid-19 ? For me marketing is letting other people know what you stand for, what kind of solutions you have for you customers and letting your audience know that you are the best possible solution for them.
So if in times of covid-19 you have solutions for your customer you definitely should do marketing.
The key question is : How can you be helpful to your customers during and after the pandemic.
Marketing your tours and travel experiences the same as usual when people are in a lock down can be tricky. Not only for them : travel is dangerous, but also for others, asking people to travel to places is not good for the world as a whole at them moment.
Asking people to come to your destination at the moment, is not a good idea but what can and should do is to stay in the hearts and minds of travelers.
And preferable with something that helps them have a better live during the pandemic.
As long as world wide travel is still mostly banned, focusing on innovative ideas to bring your travel experiences or destination to the homes of travelers is a good idea.
If you are in a country where people are allowed to go out, you could offer self guided tours, while in countries where that is not possible its better to wait and think of alternatives and our market for a time frame far in advance for example September 2021. However if you do that you need to think if your products and cost will be the same by that time because of change health directives from the government and or shifting needs from your customers.
To understand when to market what scenario planning could help because the situation can be very different from country to country and might change over time because of changing government policies I listed some ideas per scenario.
Marketing when travel is restricted
Participate in CSR initiatives.
Only if your company can afford that (see goals ) show your local expertise while you help the communities that are part of your travel experiences. Share how clients can help, especially previous clients are very interested to know how the communities are doing that they have visited.
Bring your experiences to the homes of your clients
Create virtual tours share your expertise & knowledge about topics to your niche. Besides entertainment and education of your key clients you can even try to get cash flow through virtual experiences, OTA's like viator and airbnb started to sell online experiences like cooking classes, insider guides etc.
That virtual experiences work shows the Louvre museum in Paris, they had more visitors on their website in 3 months lockdown then during the whole of 2019.
An early starter was : And Beyond https://www.andbeyond.com/bringing-africa-home/
There framework to create online experiences is really nice:
When making a virtual experience. think about how you can use your expertise to provide a richer picture of a destination and or an experience and create value that people want to pay for. Note you don't have to start from scratch you can build further on other digital experiences like google arts, digital tours through museums , google street view etc.
Another great example for inspiration to create virtual tours is Take Walks, They have many online tours from 10 USD and more, interesting is that you can later exchange the fee in a voucher for a "real" live tour.
Create tours within your niche, tours that strengthens your image as an expert. The benefit of being seen as an expert is that people trust experts more. And trust will be even more important then before the pandemic.
Focus on beauty
Beauty distracts, beauty puts you in an emotive state where peace and relaxation takes over fear and anxiety. Thus beauty is good for health and the immune system. Experiencing beauty, is more than just seeing, feeling and hearing, it's also about what you learned to experience. And that's where your knowledge kicks in, to unlock the details to experience beauty, by learning your audience about architecture, art, animals ,etc.
The more you know about something, the better you can see the beauty. Normally we don't have much time to prepare ourselves right for a holiday but now we have. And you can help your customers to get the most out of their holiday.
With your specific knowledge how can you make digital experiences that help people seeing beauty, or how to experience beauty together with others ? And feel be wondered and enchanted ?
How to make a virtual tour ?
You don't need a virtual tour to be a 360 video, you can use the materials you have and or found from other online sources and curate them, add context and your knowledge, reshare that through a video you record at home and or live through a webcam with the possibility of people chatting or talking back. Have a look at the tours from the tour guy for inspiration.
Use Existing Online Tools for Virtual Tours
Share your knowledge through or with the help of online tools like for example, making a project in Google earth, pick the locations you want to share your knowledge about, maybe enrich them with your own videos and pictures.
New clients through better visibility in Search Engines
Not only are virtual tours great to entertain people and help to unlock the true beauty of your destination, it's also a great way to get traffic to your website from search engines.
The number of searches in google on virtual increased 5 times between january and april 2020.
Create a community of like minded people
See yourself as an expert with excellent knowledge of your niche, you can be the one who connects people around this topic. And people love to connect, especially now.
Are you able to bring people together and form a community around the niche of your travel company and explain the details that unlock true beauty which results in relaxation now and a better experience of your tours later ?
Entertain with your company or destination
A great way to stay in the hearts and minds of your clients is to entertain them. With movies, books or other entertainment that come from your destination but you can also make it yourself and more active by making for examplle color pages for children, create prizes for best contributions or organise online games like quizzes or even a scavenger hunt like Wendy's (A USA based fast food chain) did. Whatever you do stay close to your niche, ask yourself if you are really creating value and if you give your audience a reason to come back for more.
Educate your B2B partners
Not only your company wants to bounce back better, your partners too, what can you do to make their product knowledge better and help them to craft the best possible itinerary for their clients when they can travel again ?
Advertising during covid-19
There are mixed opinions about advertising during the pandemic. For me if you have something special that creates value and is beneficial to your audience. I think you should. You should only not ask people to do things that are not safe or appropriate.
What is appropriate also depends on the context where you can see the advertisement, for example in a news magazine next to a coronavirus article.
Long term awareness campaign to stay in the hearts and minds of your customers could also be beneficial the costs of advertising are much lower now.
But be careful with gambling to much, create a strategy how this awareness campaign will change into planning and what your next step is ? Is the goal to get an email address ? Branding ? Is the content on your website in line with it and covid 19 sensitive ?
Because less companies are now advertising, the change that someone sees your re marketing message from Adwords of Facebook increases. You can use this to create almost personal messages, thank you for visiting our website during these difficult times, and then share a message.
Social Media during covid-19
Staying active on social media is even more important then before the crisis, because your presence on social media shows if you are still open and are putting time in your business, an important indicator if your company will survive the crisis.
Read further to learn about Marketing when travel is allowed again