As more businesses reopen and travel resumes, effective communication will play a critical role in the recovery of the BC tourism industry. Here are six ways BC tourism operators can reassure travellers and give them the confidence to book.
Good communication starts with listening. Before you can respond appropriately, you first need to know the questions and concerns at top of mind for travellers. These can be summarized as follows:
Craft your COVID-19 communications to answer these questions in a clear and concise way that reassures travellers, builds trust, and sets expectations.
Tip: The images you choose are as important as your words. Try to avoid photos of crowds, large groups, and tight spaces. Instead, show open spaces, physical distancing, and clean, uncluttered environments. Destination BC’s Content Hub is a valuable resource for tourism imagery.
If efforts to contain the virus are successful, more BC businesses will reopen in the coming weeks and months. Get ready to welcome a different type of traveller.
According to Destination BC’s Marketing Recovery Plan, as more restrictions are eased, travel will open up across the province. Later, Canada-wide travel will resume, followed by international travel in the final phase of recovery.
Keep these demographics in mind as you shape your messaging. Currently, the target market is local BC residents and the focus is on encouraging them to get out, explore close to home, and support local tourism businesses.
Tip: For updates on travel restrictions by country, see Canada’s Official Global Travel Advisory.
The amount of information out there can be overwhelming, and not every source is trustworthy. To ensure you have the facts, refer to official, trusted sources such as:
Tip: For information developed especially for BC tourism operators, from planning for doors open to effective communication to digital marketing, check out the Road to Recovery webinar series on Destination BC’s Learning Centre.
If you haven’t done so already, create a dedicated COVID-19 page on your website and link it from your home page. Keep it up-to-date with changes to operating hours, products, or services and the hygiene, safety, and physical distancing protocols you have implemented to keep customers safe.
Email is a great way to proactively reach out to customers with important updates. If possible, segment your database by geography to ensure that updates are relevant to the recipients.
Review your profiles on Google My Business, Tripadvisor, HelloBC.com, Yelp, and booking sites and update the content as appropriate. Use social media to listen to traveller conversations, gain insights into fears and concerns, and share news and updates related to your business.
Tip: Google My Business allows you to mark your business as temporarily closed or add a post to your page with COVID-19 information such as changes to hours and safety protocols.
After a lengthy lockdown, consumers will be price sensitive and risk averse. Entice them to travel with special offers and flexible cancellation terms. If travellers need to cancel, encourage them to postpone instead.
Avoid referring to the pandemic in promotions, which may be perceived as insensitive. Instead, highlight features that will appeal to post-COVID travellers such as escape, solitude, recovery, outdoors, and nature. Emphasize local travel, family travel, small groups, and low guest-to-guide ratios.
Tip: To protect your pricing, offer value-adds or inclusions rather than deep discounts. Show value by framing prices relative to your regular rate and highlighting the savings.
Consulting online reviews is an integral part of the trip-planning process, and this behaviour may ramp up as more travellers seek assurance from other travellers of cleanliness, safety, flexibility, and value. Be sure to monitor your reviews closely, respond quickly and professionally, and use guest feedback to guide improvements.
As BC embarks on the road to recovery, businesses that listen to travellers and earn their trust will be rewarded with bookings, positive reviews, and return visitors. Working together, we will strengthen BC’s reputation as a destination of choice—for locals now, and for all types of travellers in the future.
Tip: When responding to reviews related to COVID-19, take the opportunity to reinforce the measures your business has undertaken to keep travellers healthy and safe.
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