Restarting with digital strategies
The digitalisation of businesses working in the tourism sector alone is not enough: it is necessary to rebuild the relationship with the tourist, starting with territorial marketing projects, but tailored to the new needs of the tourist; teaming up within the territory is imperative, as well as a digital training plan for small and medium-sized businesses, which will have to start from structural, organizational and communicative criticalities.
In order to get going again, the tourism entrepreneur must first understand how tourists have changed, with what feelings they resume traveling, with what habits, what they are looking for... only in this way can the company intercept their needs, responding with tailored offers. The entire marketing strategy must be based on the customer and contextualized in this new normal.
Above all, small tourism businesses will have to digitise and do it quickly. The Coronavirus has taught us that businesses have had to readjust their physical interactions with the customer, and ingeniously find alternative methods to continue selling, but also to relate to the customer. Digital tools will be essential to get going again.
"Post-covid-19 marketing strategies for the tourism sector must be based on creating trust and communicating security"
There is a need to guide the restart through a system of digital training that must begin with the institutions and the territory, because digital tools alone are not enough if they are only used to a limited extent. In this transition, institutions, regional and municipal administrations, tourist boards but also trade associations, in partnership with agencies and consultants in the area of reference, are called upon to develop real free training projects, dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism sector, from a strategic perspective of development through digital marketing and communication tools.
The propensity to relate and communicate directly with the tourist, which usually the Italian tourism entrepreneur has in himself and which represents a worldwide excellence, must be transferred also online, through all the tools loved by tourists.
The post-pandemic tourist, especially the one directed to small accommodation facilities, will not be the same as before: probably he will decide for shorter vacations, maybe he will have a reduced budget, but above all he will have developed new needs from the point of view of his own safety, and it is necessary that each company makes an analysis of the criticalities present in its structure; and start again from the organization, the communication and the marketing, adapting them to the new scenarios. It would also be the right time to raise the bar of standards of reception, to promote – in a not-too-distant future – a quality tourism, but at the same time sustainable for the precious landscape and cultural attractions.
Post-covid-19 marketing strategies for the tourism sector must be based on creating trust and communicating security. The structures, as well as the territories, will have to communicate and inform with continuity the potential tourists-customers, obviously using all the digital channels employed by the users; considering the richness in terms of beauty and culture of our territories, the communication will have to be as essential as possible. Making the company speak through the territory, with the help of video and photos, is always the most attractive strategy.
A permanent observatory on communication in the tourism sector, where experts in marketing, institutions, universities, trade associations can listen and interface with companies and share data and information useful for the growth of small and medium-sized tourism companies.
* The writer is a tourism strategy/marketing consultant based in Italy