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How Your Destination Should Market During Coronavirus

Tom Martin of Converse Digital

I have a lot of friends, colleagues, clients and past clients that have been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Many have reached out to ask my two cents on what they should be doing now and in the future.

Honestly, I didn’t have a good answer for them… until now. So here it is… sorry for the poor quality video. Not sure what happened there but I figured it was more important to share the idea than to worry about the quality. So give it a listen, or if you prefer to read, I’ve included a transcript below. BUT – either way, do let me know your thoughts either here in the comments or via a comment on any of mine or Converse Digital‘s social media feeds.

And if you need an example of the kind of content I talk about in the video — just scroll to the end of this post where I’ve included one that is absolutely perfect.

Transcript: How Should Your DMO Market and Advertise During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Many of my friends in the tourism and hospitality space, especially those in the DMO or CVB world, have been asking me what I think about how they should move forward in a Coronavirus world…. Should they stop marketing, go dark if you will, should they continue? And if they should continue, what should they do? What should they say? Where should they say it?

I have to admit… at first I didn’t really have an answer for them… but I’ve been reflecting on the question for a few days… over a few bourbons… and I think I finally have an answer for them.

What you should be doing – if you’re a DMO or a CVB – whichever moniker you choose – what you should be doing is your job.

Now what do I mean by that you may ask…

Ask yourself, why do consumers hire vacations or travel to places that are not their home.

What JOB is that consumer hiring your destination to do for them?

Interesting question isn’t it….

If you ask me, and this is based on some research I’ve done with travelers over the last 25 years in marketing, much of it spent marketing tourism, hospitality or airline brands….

That job is usually some form of escape.

That’s why we travel. We want to escape from the daily existence we live. Now sometimes that escape is truly escape as in get the hell out of dodge… I need a break from my schoolwork, my job, my kids my life… you name it. We just want to hire a destination to take take us away from our current stress and responsibility.

In other cases that escape is more positive – we want to escape our daily duties to have the freedom to explore… to learn… to experience… to drink from the cup of life.

But make no mistake…whether framed in a positive or negative context… travel is an escape… a chance to experience something different to maybe even be someone different, if only for 3 days and 2 nights…

And as destination marketers, your job has always been and today definitely is to help provide that escape.

So what should you do – many have asked me – do your job I say.

Now more than ever, especially in our digital feeds, consumers need and I’d say want to hire content (which destinations can certainly create) that helps them escape anything and everything Corona related. Whether that’s being stuck at home, learning how to home school your kids, dealing with not being able to be with friends and loved ones, or just wanting something positive, uplifting, and yes, hopeful to consume…. Consumers are ready and willing to hire you and your destination for that job.

And you can, and should apply for the position.

Do your job. The same job I and every other traveler have been hiring you to do since the dawn of travel and tourism.

Do your job. Give me hope. Give me laughter. Give me an uplifting moment or 90 seconds… give me a reason to smile, to feel different, to feel hopeful, to feel like God that was beautiful… there is such beauty in the world… and while I can’t see it today, I will one day… and in the meantime, I’m going to share it with my friends and family who need that beauty in their stream.

And while those consumers won’t be able to pay you for your service today… they will… they will book, they will eat, they will drink, they will travel to and from your destination and so many others…. So do your job… plant the seed…

And today, well today they’ll pay you in the only currency they have… likes, comments and probably the most important currency on the market today if you’re a destination marketer, especially a smaller one… shares.

Do your job and do it well…

That means don’t create an ad, or a campaign or a message… create beauty, hope, desire, release… don’t hire a copywriter, hire a poet. Don’t rely on an art director… ask for an artist. Bring beauty into this very troubled world… inspire us all to long for a future day when we can see first hand the virtual beauty that you inject into our world.

Because inspiration always precedes action… so do your job… inspire me… give me hope… and most important, remind me that one day, that hope will become a reality.

And for the time being, may God bless you and watch over you, your destination, your partners and all of us that are suffering through this horrendous time…

But for now… Get to work.

Need a good example of creating this kind of content? Watch this. 

Can’t Skip Hope from Visit Portugal

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 25+ year veteran of the sales & marketing industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and showing companies how to Sell Greatly, and turn conversations into customers. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital sales & marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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