A passion for Paris. Or the romance of Rome. Or the allure of Acapulco: How will travelers determine their first post‐vaccine destinations?
These destination debates will soon be with us again, as the world re-beckons, as our beloved countries and cities begin to welcome tourists from the around the world.
With that will come the resurgence of travel and tourism marketing, all happening in the larger context of changing technology and the continued ascendency of the well‐being macro trend.
In other words: Like everything else, travel marketing will not return to a pre‐March 2020 norm.
Destination marketing will be reinvented, with data and experiences as the new differentiator. Winning the disposable travel dollar will turn on more than just whose beaches are more pristine, whose museums are more inspiring, whose restaurants are more imaginative.
The vibrancy and sustainability of our beloved travel experiences will require a convergence of efforts by public health experts, transportation leaders, data scientists, tech and destination marketers.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
Adapting to change has always been part of what destination marketing has elegantly done. The industry is more than a century old, after all.
So those working and innovating in destination marketing organizations, tourism ministries and local bureaus and organizations around the world will need to address the hopes, expectations and anxieties of millions of newly vaccinated people as they plan their travel.
Boomers – who are, ironically, both the most at risk and the most critical contributors to the travel and tourism economy – will have their own issues. Each cohort ‐ families with young children, Gen Z, Gen X, millennials ‐ will have their own wants and needs. Because each group will define safety differently, the industry will need a new way to communicate safety, both broadly and narrowly.
“Safety” will be redefined in a wholly new context. The old frameworks and standards – one‐dimensional and non‐comparative criteria – will be replaced by the urgency of “Marketing of Care,” a modern, integrative approach to tourism marketing.
What is Marketing of Care?
We define Marketing of Care as presenting the appeal of a travel destination through a holistic combination of benefits that includes hyper‐local data, as well as rational and emotional factors: In other words, a reconfigured experience.
“Hyper‐local” is key; just as sounds, sights and smells vary by streets and blocks, so, too, does safety.
Marketing of Care will be executed through a framework that meets four essential requirements: more expansive, more granular, more personalized and more immediate than pre‐pandemic.
Destination marketers must become sophisticated digital practitioners that use search, social and native.
Michael Becker and Adam Hanft
More expansive demands confidence‐building with a broad scope of communication tactics, data strategies and public health planning. They must demonstrate “care” beyond measuring the presence and severity of the virus, to data related to diversity, equality and inclusion and other markers which express how a destination’s values aligns with their own.
To build on that, we know that consumers – especially millennials – support companies and products that reflect their values, that care about what matters to them. That extends to the places they will visit, which is why Marketing of Care will include how much a destination cares. For example, pre‐pandemic, we saw LGBT boycotts of destinations that banned same‐sex adoption.
The second requirement in the new Marketing of Care framework is granularity. Travelers will demand – and travel marketers must provide – information about their destination that is specific, detailed and filterable. That relates to individual segments of society, including women, LGBTQ and BIPOC customers.
An Asian transgender woman wants to know about more than localized COVID‐19 information while traveling: Is the community LGBTQ friendly, and which neighborhoods are okay after dark? Those that fully and freely disseminate this kind of information will be recognized as safety standouts through innovative badging.
The third pillar is the new era of personalization. Today’s digital world of one‐to‐one marketing can deliver relevant hyper‐targeted safety messages to dozens upon dozens of micro-constituencies. Destination marketers must become sophisticated digital practitioners that use search, social, native ‐ all the tools of today’s media world ‐ to communicate they are a safe, reassuring and inspiring vacation choice.
Relevant data becomes an essential tool as locations compete for travelers. For example, with platforms like GeoSure, any destination can develop messages that combine multiple data sources, leveraging the precision of social media. This will be become an essential part of the world reopening – because it will emerge segment‐by‐segment. Data plus targeting can get us there.
The last component is immediacy. Travelers will want data that is fast, accurate and relevant in the moment. No one wants to struggle through reams of often conflicting safety information; they want one rapidly accessible experience, one reliable reference point that telegraphs what safety means to them.
Dynamism is a completely new world for destination marketers, who typically sold the unchanging nature of their destinations. But in today’s world, safety conditions can change on a weekly or even daily basis. This invites participation and collaboration, which we see in the two‐way, reciprocal nature of platforms like Waze.
Just imagine if destinations invited visitors and residents alike help make their city safer, more reassuring? Can DMOs introduce that level of consciousness? We think they can.
In the darkness of the pandemic today, it is difficult to envision bustling cafés, clubs and communities, but they will return. The question is, to which destination will travelers return first?
We believe it will be those that use their marketing platforms to provide access to technologies that not only create well‐being and reassurance, but that also enable goodness across the local geography. That is the new thing in travel marketing, or Marketing of Care.
About the authors...
Michael Becker is CEO of GeoSure
and Adam Hanft
is a futurist, global brand strategist, author, public company board member and advisor to GeoSure.