DMO leaders are rising to the challenge of how to speak to an audience using clear and concise messaging during unbeknown crisis of this nature. Social Media is unsurprisingly, one of the primary tools that leaders are utilizing to stay in touch with the community at this time. There is a delicate line to walk, but there is no reason why your brand should go dark during a time when people are consuming more media than ever.
Coronavirus has caused occupancy rates are to drop to staggering numbers, with hotel brands holding onto merely 10-15% of their inventory filled, and the numbers are continuing to drop each day as we move further into this COVID-19 pandemic.
The travel and tourism industry, one of the largest and most powerful economic drivers to the United States, is experiencing a hasty and unprecedented halt. The messaging being released from both state and federal government is being heard loud and clear… to stay home and let this virus run its course within the safety of your household. Americans seem to be following this advice (for the most part) and within the last week, we’ve seen more cancellations and trips postponed than our industry could have ever been prepared for.
Below are a few recommendations we’ve pulled together on how to address both local and tourist audiences from an organic and paid social standpoint:
Organic Social Media
- Have a Clear Statement.
A poignant statement from your organization regarding the virus is the most widely regarded PR move at this time. Future travelers want to know that steps are being taken to keep things safe in the places they love to visit. Don’t forget, many travelers are still following your social media posts, and your destination has likely built a pretty strong local audience as well.
As people suddenly have more downtime, reiterate what your community partners and business owners are doing to keep their patrons safe. It’s also important to note that all information is subject to change at any given time.
- Continue to Enforce the Rules.
If possible, continue to reflect what the CDC, WHO, and both the federal and local government is recommending for your community. Keep things factual by including links to updated advice from credible sources.
- Get Creative and Keep it Positive.
With so many questions unanswered and many children out of school for an undetermined amount of time, people are desperate for inspiration on how to keep their family entertained. Encouraging safe outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, fishing, rock climbing, kayaking, geotouring, can help support a boost in mental health during this stressful time.
Another idea is to work with partners to create a Facebook Live from their attraction or restaurant! Consumers will appreciate the content and develop a deeper brand attraction through virtual entertainment and engagement. (Don’t forget, most everyone is sitting at home for the next few weeks.)
- Connect Connect Connect.
Start a Facebook Group for your local business owners. It’s a great way to stay in touch as restrictions change and local governments coordinate with any new mandates from the Federal government. The more direct lines of communication, the less phone calls your team has to make daily.
Paid Social Media
- Focus on the Right Now.
Many DMO’s are keeping their local businesses alive right now by continuing to promote their services and offerings through paid social media. Local restaurants offering take-out or curbside pickup are the largest example of this. Let’s be honest – our communities are in survival mode. If we don’t help, the worst-case scenario is that they may not exist to be enjoyed by fall and winter travelers. Use the budget you had set aside for that spring or summer media buy to promote the businesses that need it right now.
- Stay Inspired.
Orange142 encourages messaging that acknowledges the crisis but sends a very positive communication of hope. “We hope to see you soon! Here are some beautiful images that may keep you inspired until we meet again.” Beautiful imagery and an optimistic tone are a wonderful break for any audience’s low-spirited newsfeed.
- Shift your Assets.
All media in market right now should be sensitive with call-to-actions as people are still in the determining process as to whether they will postpone or cancel their trips. If possible, take this time to promote general brand-awareness materials showcasing the outdoors. Sufficed to say, it’s crucial to shift towards assets that do not show groups or crowds of people, restaurants, concerts, or anything of that nature. As stated above, creativity is key. Perhaps there’s a movie or TV show filmed in your destination that you can promote at this time?
If you need help implementing any of the above suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact our team here at Orange142. We are professionals in emergency response messaging and our organic and paid social media teams are working around-the-clock to guarantee that our partner destinations are being supported and well represented during the COVID-19 crisis.