In our highly anticipated eighth Tourism Impact call, we discussed the different approaches of destinations who are at various stages of the recovery process. Recovering destinations are now looking for innovative product solutions as restrictions begin to ease and businesses start to re-open. Whilst for other destinations their recovery plans are still at the research stage. Recovery will happen in phases with each destination undertaking its own unique journey.
Every Tuesday at 14:00 GMT / 15:00 CET, we will hold a weekly 30 minute 'Tourism Impact Call' to give the lay of the land in terms of what's happening, how the industry is responding and we will provide a weekly summary. Open to all, every perspective welcome. Join Call
Week 8 - 05/05/2020
This week we welcomed contributions from Doug Lansky and Marco Minicucci. The strategy for many destinations now is to focus on regional and domestic recovery and adapt their business model for life post COVID-19. Adapting and rethinking product, strategy, marketing communication and investment are all key factors in this process. Here are the key takeaways.
A new product, a new strategy
Creativity and innovation are often born out of the need for solutions during difficult and challenging times. Every DMO should be using this time to innovate and reinvent their product. Our expert contributor Doug Lansky believes that destinations should develop a COVID-19 product and use technology to develop apps to control the movement of people within places and attractions. For example allowing people to choose and book a time when they can visit an attraction safely.
DMOs must use this time to think outside the box. Previous top products could now be seen as unsafe and other lesser known experiences could become more popular. Another idea that Doug suggests is for museums to move their pictures outside museums and create a nature walk for domestic tourists.
Influence and Innovation will be key to Destination Management
Now is a great time for destinations to devote more resources to developing solutions, and responsible management. Destinations will be restricted with what they can manage based on government policies, however there is still plenty of opportunity for innovation. At the #DTTT, we believe destinations should be focusing on finding solutions to improve the visitor experience. Rather than promote open spaces and attractions, DMOs need to identify the ones which will be impacted the most and work to control the experience.
Destination Management solutions must take into account the locals and ensure a better experience for them. For recovering destinations, encouraging people to buy locally instead of shopping online will provide a boost to the economy. Milan’s latest video as shared by Marco Minicucci, invites its citizens to (cautiously) return and enjoy the city. It's a great example of a recovering destination connecting with its locals and staying visible and socially responsible in its message.
The Traveller’s mindset will change and DMOs must respond
Around the world, destinations are going through different stages of recovery. There will be a difference in mindset for people living in recovering destinations to those who are still impacted by lockdown. People’s reactions to travel will be different, some people will have no fear, while others will not be prepared to take the risk. For some, even travelling to Sweden with its open society during COVID-19 will be classified as “adventure travel.” People may not yet be ready to travel far away and will have a fear of being stranded abroad.
In order to recover successfully, DMOs must address people’s fears and also their change in consumer behaviour and values. People have a new mindset, more caring, understanding and not taking anything for granted. Post COVID-19, expectations of a high level of care will remain a core characteristic of products, services and experiences. Companies and brands are expected to show a caring attitude and be proactive in issues that are important to society. If a destination is focused on domestic tourism, it must provide people with assurances that it is safe and demonstrate this through its actions and communication.
Destinations must be prepared for every scenario
Destinations must prepare now for every scenario and stay one step ahead. This is a great opportunity for destinations to plan and manage their recovery effectively. Many destinations are likely to get an influx of domestic tourism when restrictions are eased, therefore the destinations that are ready to open must be prepared. Domestic overcrowding is a possible consequence as people rush to natural, spacious areas which will be more popular with social distancing.
DMOs must ensure that their destination is safe, healthy and ready to receive people in a large capacity. At the #DTTT, we recommend that DMOs review their capacity and set up plans to manage all scenarios related to increased capacity within their destinations and around key attractions.
The industry’s success will be a result of its actions
This is a unique opportunity for the industry to change, develop and improve at every level.It is time to redefine the travel experience. DMOs must get all their stakeholders on board and make responsible carefully considered decisions and monitor the impact. If the industry applies a smarter approach to ensure travel feels safer, more eco friendly and ethical, it can connect with people whose values and consumer choices will have changed.
The industry must adapt to the “new normal” and a balance how it can survive without impacting nature. Destinations must address the key issues such as overcrowding and environmental damage and see if they can scale back positively, by limiting cruise ships and large coach loads for example. DMOs should deal with the circumstances that they can control, such as their management of the pandemic, as this will reflect on their reputation with travellers in the future.
At the #DTTT, we feel that the industry must take away the lessons it has learnt from the pandemic and transform them into improvement and development. We will not know the long term effects of COVID-19 for some time to come, but the industry can grow holistically and unify people as it addresses this unique situation and the new normality.
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