Picture: 123RF/kavram
Picture: 123RF/kavram

Tourism destinations and brands have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, but marketing has continued to be important during the crisis, says Laura Hendel, customer growth marketing manager for Club Med Southern Africa.

While many brands went quiet, waiting for the storm to pass, others ensured their voice was heard. These include Qatar Airways, which launched its “We will get you home” campaign. This, says Hendel, was a smart and well-executed campaign from a customer point of view, as it responded to the most urgent need for flights when tourists and expatriates were desperately looking to join their families and homes in the time of crisis.

For its part, Club Med rolled out a “Club Med at Home” campaign during the travel ban to engage with clients and keep the brand top of mind. The campaign took the form of a series of mailers and social posts and included fun, interactive activities families could enjoy while spending time together during lockdown.

Laura Hendel. Picture: Supplied
Laura Hendel. Picture: Supplied

“The pandemic will eventually come to an end, and when that happens and global borders open up, people will want to celebrate life, reunite and explore,” says Hendel, adding that the challenge then will be to ensure that tourism destinations have the best offer in place to attract visitors.

“Government policies such as mandatory quarantine periods on arrival will determine how adventurous travellers will be in their destination choices,” she says. “Promoting a safe and easy environment on arrival, with guidance on what to expect, will be critical.”

To attract tourists, she says, brands will need to focus on ensuring stringent safety measures, including a clear safety protocol, married with comprehensive insurance. Reliable and well-established brands that are sufficiently sustainable to survive the crisis will be preferred over less well known brands, as the pandemic has negatively affected most people’s wallets. This is likely to have an impact on booking behaviours and patterns.

Hendel expects that the pandemic will result in the rise of new trends, including an evolution in terms of booking profiles, and a rise in workcations.

In the case of the former, there may be a shift towards last-minute bookings as travellers wait to reduce the risk of changes and cancellations. “Travel brands will have to be agile and responsive on all channels to ensure they don’t miss any opportunities to satisfy traveller’s need for holidays,” Hendel says.

As far as workcations are concerned, she predicts that many professionals will continue to work remotely for some time to come – perhaps even permanently. In response, Club Med has launched Work Hubs at its resorts. These allow guests to attend virtual work meetings via high-speed internet connections in a luxurious resort setting.

The big take-out

Travel brands are going to have to be agile and responsive on all channels.

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