In ContentGoogleSEO

Things seem to be changing on a daily basis, sometimes even hourly. Working from home and social distancing are quickly becoming the new normal for now, resulting in less traffic on the streets, in the sky and, sadly, to our local businesses. All of this has, and will, have an effect on marketing, not just for travel and tourism, but for all industries.

Does it make sense to pay for traffic to our sites if consumers aren’t purchasing travel right now?

Every DMO will have a different take. Certainly an argument can be made for pausing brand awareness campaigns, and in most cases it’s prudent to do so. The last thing a DMO wants to do is appear tone-deaf or opportunistic.

During a crisis like this, you may want to shift from advertising to informing. As marketing expert Rand Fishkin shared in a recent post on his website Sparktoro.com, “the best marketing helps people first and earns their business as a result.” For destinations, it’s no different.

One thing is for certain. With more and more people working from home, the flexible workday will become just that, flexible. Not only will consumers be doing business searches during their day, but they will also do more personal searches, many of which will be related to travel.

Before COVID-19, 1 in 10 of all searches on Google were related to travel. Those numbers won’t return for a while but they will certainly begin to pick up eventually. As things progress and time goes by, those travel related searches will shift more away from COVID-19-related ones toward planning one’s next getaway. Regional tourism will likely rebound first as people travel not too far from home, with leisure air travel being a more gradual rebound.

Here are a few things you can do in the meantime:

  • Keep a close eye on search trends. Be aware of the terms people are searching. Google Trends is a great resource for this.
  • Keep creating meaningful content. Check out Visit Oslo's Guide to Oslo in Corona Times, their Events Calendar for Live Stream Events, Visit Dorset's dedicated page and the Manchester Misses You section for some great examples.
  • Frequently communicate with your agency/vendors. Your marketing partners, such as Simpleview, can be a great resource during times of crisis, as they’re talking with multiple destinations at a time. We are all in this together, so leverage those relationships and community resources to stay on top of what the industry is doing. 
  • Continue to optimise your content. Remember, SEO is a long game. It takes months or even longer to get your rankings to the top. Continuing to optimise for your no.1 source of traffic should be at the top of your marketing continuity list.
  • Where it makes sense, use paid search for crisis communications. If you are continuing to run paid search, carving out some budget for some of your new crisis landing pages may make sense until they can gain organic traction.
  • Stay ahead of the competition.  Committing spend for the future is a good strategy that can give you an edge over the competition when things pick back up again.

Travel will get competitive quickly so budgeting for later is wise. For others, it may make better sense to divert spend away from international and fly market campaigns for now and focus more on regional audiences, which are continuing to see search volume and will likely rebound faster. In fact, in the US queries for road trips and staycation terms are actually trending upward slightly. So with that, there is interest to capitalise on if you can save your paid marketing budgets for later.

Author: Jason Swick, VP of Digital Marketing at Simpleview Inc.

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