19 Mar What can the tourism industry do now?
The UK government advisory against all non-essential travel has posed an immediate quandary for those of us working in the tourism industry. With no-one able to take trips, flights grounded and cancellations across the board, what should we be doing? How are tourism businesses to act, re-act and survive? And while enforcement of the ban on movement around the UK hasn’t (yet) been imposed, the prime minister has said that he’s ruling nothing out.
We’re all facing stress, anxiety and uncertainty. Whether that’s worrying about loss of income, personal health or loved-ones and parents in their 70s – who are cross and frightened in equal measures.
As an English Literature graduate, I tend to turn to the words of others, seeking wisdom in quotes from books, writers and those in authority to make sense of difficult sentiments. This current situation has been no different. I’ve been avidly devouring news and advisories and speaking to others in the tourism industry to find a path, both personally and professionally.
In amongst all the darkness, the fear and incredulity there are glimmers of hope. As PRs and marketers, it’s our job to winkle out the positives, to create and share stories.
The word from national travel editors is that newspapers will keep the travel sections going, just pared down. Papers like the Sunday Times plan to continue covering escapism and armchair travel, keeping eyes firmly on the horizon for when people are ready to book again. Positive travel stories will be gratefully received. Even if journalists are no longer taking press trips, UK travel is high on the agenda, especially if there’s an element of remoteness and isolation.
“Let’s be creative,” one journalist at the Telegraph told me.
Other sections of the newspapers and magazines are still in need of content.
The coming weeks and months require a different approach to PR and social media for businesses (not just travel companies). One thing we can all be doing is sharing positive stories and engaging content; people will be spending a lot of time online whilst working from home and self-isolating. These engaged audiences can be future customers.
Above all, we need to be adaptable. And resilient, have not one but many backup plans in place. While some businesses will feel they have no choice but to pause their PR and marketing activity, others are looking for creative ways to maintain valued agencies and freelancers. We’ll be here and continuing to offer suggestions, ideas and support for clients (even for those who’ve had to cut our services) and all the businesses that we don’t want to lose. It’s here that solid, long-term relationships will be built, and I know when the dust settles it will be a different landscape but hopefully, we’ll be facing it together.