Should You Continue Marketing Despite COVID-19?

As a global health crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic has had vast economic and social implications. The coronavirus outbreak turned businesses upside down and forced companies to rethink their strategies and plans.

While all sectors of the world’s economy were somehow affected by the pandemic, the hospitality and leisure industries have been hit particularly hard. Consumer habits and demand were impacted in a way not experienced before.

What’s even worse, despite sticking to the rules in place, most owners of tour and activity businesses still suffer great losses. The majority of them started questioning the worth of their marketing strategies and whether they should cut the allocated budgets.

If you are involved in the leisure sector and asking yourself the same questions, then this article is for you. Carry on reading to find out why investing time and effort in your marketing is important during this crisis and for your long-term success.  

Why you should continue marketing

We appreciate that there are some strategies and advertising models that require high spending. However, there are also cheaper alternatives and new revenue streams to explore.

For example, digital experiences and virtual tours have proven to be a good strategy during the first wave of COVID.  

In addition, gift voucher sales and early-bird ticket sales remain stable despite the lockdown across Europe. 

All in all, there are ways to reduce your costs and keep gaining revenue, without sacrificing your marketing efforts. This is what we’ll explore next. 

How to market during the COVID-19 crisis

Minimize the big costs

The way your business operates in light of the coronavirus crisis is different and so your budget should be. That is why priority number one in your new marketing strategy should be minimizing the costs that are not indispensable.

PPC

Many tour and activity businesses benefit from the advantages of online advertising. This model allows them to target certain demographics, locations, and devices at any time of the day. 

But if your search and display campaigns aim to drive more direct sales and impressions, you should probably pause them for a while. Or perhaps, amend their structure and cost per click to serve better your current goals. 

For example, if you host any virtual experiences, you can start promoting them to international audiences and thus increase your reach and invest in brand awareness. 

SEO

Search engine optimization is always a good idea for any business that operates online. But it could also be quite expensive. So one of the best ways to utilize your free time and spare budget is to start learning about SEO. Use your new skills to produce optimized content for your website and social channels. This will give you more control of your digital platforms and help you improve the quality of website traffic too!

Print Advertising

Many businesses continue investing in magazines and directories that provide advertising slots. We believe that is a non-essential cost that you can put on hold until things are back to normal. 

Other types of print advertising materials such as brochures, leaflets, and billboard advertising could also be paused for a while. They involve charges for artwork design, printing, and delivery of the materials that all tend to be quite expensive. So consider reallocating the relevant budgets to other marketing activities or aspects of your business like rent and salaries. 

Set a standard daily schedule for your marketing 

Getting into a habit is one of the best ways to stay on top of the challenges. So we suggest dedicating some of your work time to developing marketing strategies and activities crafted for the current climate.

Do this yourself or perhaps assign it to a member of your staff that is not as busy at the moment. Research what your competitors do and brainstorm ideas that might make a difference for your business too. 

Make the most of the quiet times by investing in online channels that don’t require any spending. Improving your website content and becoming more consistent on social media wouldn’t cost a dime but will surely have a positive impact on your brand. 

Use the time to fix your processes

Another way to utilize the slow times is by revising the organizational structure and various operations in your company. Go through all the time-consuming procedures that you’ve always been postponing before the pandemic.

Make sure you offer a smooth customer journey online and offline. and if not, spend some time training your team to better serve the needs of your customers. Perhaps, evaluate your online and social platforms and rebuild them if necessary. 

Since Covid-19 is expected to change the travel industry forever, make sure to do as much as you can to prepare your business for what’s coming next. 

Invest in a risk-free environment that will allow you to reopen as soon as the restrictions in place are lifted. Additionally, prepare your physical locations for the post-Covid-19 era by providing the equipment and instructions for both employees and visitors.

Explore digital experiences as a new offering

You probably know about the recent launch of Airbnb Online Experiences earlier this year. The platform shares and promotes all kinds of activities that are designed by local hosts or tour operators from around the world. And its goal –  to encourage businesses to keep going and generate sales in new creative ways despite the unexpected turns that the crisis is taking. 

Following this example, think about which one of your product offerings, activities, or services can be adapted for the online environment. Design experiences aimed at a broader international audience and start offering them on your website and platforms like Airbnb Experiences. This will not only accelerate your sales performance but also help you extend your product or service line.

Push gift vouchers

Gift vouchers are another great idea to create a sustainable digital product that will continue bringing you profit after the end of the crisis. They will help you sell some tours and activities even at times when you are closed and not selling any. So if you haven’t thought about launching gift vouchers yet, now is the best time to consider it. 

Remember to provide flexible terms of use that allow people to redeem at any time of the year. Having the recent challenges everyone has been experiencing with refunds for canceled holiday bookings, flights, and events, people don’t want to throw more money away.

Collaborate with other businesses

The message “we are stronger together” has never been more true than right now. We believe that combining efforts with other similar businesses is one of the best ways to overcome the crisis. You can collaborate with other local and international companies to promote each other in different ways. If you are working in the same area of the leisure industry, you can even partner together to create a digital experience or product. 

Wrapping up

Coronavirus may change the world of travel forever. People might be exploring and experiencing the world through a face mask while keeping social distance. But at the end of the day, we need to accept things as they are and make the most of the situation.

By putting all marketing campaigns on hold, you won’t do the best for your business in the long run. So try to balance out your business moves. We know decision-making under uncertainty is not easy but you need to get it right. 

We hope our tips will help you manage the crisis now and prepare for any challenge that the future holds. Don’t forget to keep checking our blog for more essential advice and hints on how to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

Related resource: The Five-Point Digital Recovery Game Plan for Tours & Activities. Download your copy now.

Tags: Covid-19