“Never change a working system”
It’s a great philosophy: If something works, don’t touch it!
But what if it stops working? Are you prepared for that? What if the framework changes so much that your system just isn’t working anymore?
The latter, unfortunately, came true for the travel industry. The framework has changed. Yesterday, if you had some free time and some money, you could board a plane to pretty much everywhere in the world. Today, few planes are making it into the air. Tomorrow has never been more uncertain.
Now is the right time to revise your business strategy
You always have two options: Stick to the plan or make a new one.
Lots of businesses today decide to go into hibernation mode. They freeze their expenses, ask their employees to take up their paid holidays and just wait. Their conversations start with “let’s hope this” and “let’s pray that”.
Chances are that they’ll get lucky. Maybe this virus will be gone within the next months. But it’s much more likely that it won’t. And even if COVID-19 magically disappears, it’s silly to think that everything will go back to what it was last year. We’ve seen what can happen, we’ve definitely seen the danger of such a situation and we are all very aware that this virus or a new one could strike again any moment.
This creates a change of mindset that will most definitely influence the travel industry for quite some time to come. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, people did return to air travel. But the procedure to get on those planes will never be what it was before.
If you prefer to stick with the “let’s hope that…” strategy, be our guest. But we would recommend you assess the possible outcomes of this situation and to act accordingly.
The summer of 2020 travel forecast
At the time of writing, many governments claim to be over the peak of the pandemic and start talking about a recovery plan. Some countries have already taken steps by reopening schools and non-essential stores, others prefer to wait a bit longer, until more statistics are in and an even better plan can be created.
What’s certain is that the recovery process will happen in different phases, first the schools, then the shops, then the city parks,… Bars, hotels and restaurants are not likely to appear in any of the first phases.
Every country will activate these phases at a different moment and in their own way. Depending on the outcome of each phase, other actions or restrictions might be taken. A certain phase could even be rolled back. A couple of days ago, the Belgian government announced that people in retirement homes would be allowed to receive one designated visitor. Not much more than a day later, this decision was rolled back on request of the nursing staff. Just to give an example of how quickly the situation can change.
Taking this into account, there is no way today to determine when people will be allowed to travel, where they will be allowed to go to or where they will want to travel to.
Determining your resort strategies
Of course you need a plan for the best case (the virus dies) and the worst case (you won’t be allowed to open this summer). But you’ll also need one for every option in between.
“What if” becomes the source of your strategy.
The outcome will look like “if this happens, we do this. If that happens, we do that.”
Flexibility will be the key to a successful strategy.
When you’re writing down the different strategies for this summer, there are a couple of important factors to keep into account.
The decisions that your government makes are of course very important for your strategy. If they don’t allow you to open your doors, there isn’t much that you can do. Neither if they don’t allow the people to leave their homes. A more likely decision could be that people are allowed to leave their homes, but not to travel to other countries. Or that foreigners won’t be allowed into the country for vacations.
Hygiene and social distancing measures
It is very likely that you will only be allowed to receive visitors if you can apply a hygienic and social distancing policy. Just like we suddenly had to take off our shoes and belt when boarding a plane after 9/11, it’s quite likely that your guests will have to wash their hands and have their temperature checked before entering your resort. It could be that different families won’t be allowed to sit at the same dinner table at your restaurant. It could be that there has to be a 2-meter distance between your tables. It could be that there has to be a 2-meter distance between every camper or mobile home on your camping.
A changed mentality
Maybe the most important factor of all, how will the population react to this drama, the ongoing risk and the months of being locked up in their homes? Will they jump on the first opportunity to catch a plane to somewhere exotic? Will they dare to leave their homes, even if they are allowed to? Will people still drive 3 days to get to their destination, having to visit numerous gas stations, restaurants and hotels along the way that all increase their risk of getting infected? Will the more vulnerable groups still travel?
There are some things that we almost know for certain today:
✔️ Domestic travel will be allowed sooner than international travel.
✔️ Social distancing and hygiene measures are here to stay for a long time.
✔️ Many people will be afraid to travel far away from their homes.
✔️ Short vacations will be more common in 2020 than week-long vacations.
Where to put marketing in your action plan?
These are times when all unnecessary costs will have to be postponed. Marketing and advertising often fall into that category. They are big costs that can easily be eliminated for a season or maybe two.
But not this time. Chances are that you will have to focus on a completely new public, that your 40% of returning guests won’t return this year, that your 60% of Dutch visitors won’t be allowed to leave their country.
Targeted marketing and communication will become a very important asset.
This summer, your communication will have to be flexible, accurate and fast. You want to reach the right people at the right time. Now rather than tomorrow.
Social media will play a big role in this. The more followers you have, the more people you can inform about the updated situation right now.
When it comes to display advertising, NaturistAds is the only system at the moment which can offer you the flexibility that you will need. We can help you to convert your action plan into an advertising strategy.
For example, suppose that you have a naturist resort in Spain. Your marketing strategy will look something like:
Phase 1: Domestic tourism from Spain
Phase 2: Neighboring countries like Portugal and France.
Phase 3: European countries that allow air travel to your destination
We can implement this strategy into our system, so when you give the call to start phase two, we will make sure that your ads are shown in France and Portugal immediately.
If you would like further information about this subject, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter, keep following the blog and have a look at our FREE GUIDE for Naturist Resorts about how to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
Or contact us for help with creating a COVID-19 Action Plan.