How should the tourism sector communicate in this ‘New Normality’?

Influencers as tourism promoters

Members of the tourism sector execute strategies to keep contact and service with their customers alive. The plans include a more human, conscious communication and the conviction that resilience was always on their side.

This was the main conclusion of the webinar “Tourism in the new normality: How to innovate and stay relevant in a new context”, produced AXON Marketing & Communicationsand in which its Director of Operations for Latin America, Catalina Parada, participated together with different administrative representatives of large hotel chains such as Palladium Hotel Group, Emprotur de Bariloche and the airline Wingo.

Specifically, the contribution of Catalina Parada set the tone of the conversation by ensuring that members of the regional tourism sector should direct their efforts to communicate hope during the “new normal”.

In that sense, digital channels became today more than ever the most effective means of communication between companies and customers, which, according to her perception, must be fed with meaningful experiences of the company around how it lived the quarantine and how it prepared to receive its customers again.

The strategies of important tourist cities such as Bariloche, which Diego Piquin, executive director of Emprotur, highlighted during his participation, are advancing along this path. With the message “See you soon” placed on the landing page during the quarantine months, Bariloche boosted its brand value or “Brand Equity” in terms of familiarity, empathy and optimism.

In this regard, Juan Sebastián Molano, the representative of the airline Wingo, said that the company has been working on building a closer communication with the traveler, through strategies that involve more open and transparent information. According to Molano, the creation of valuable content that consolidates the brand in terms of resilience to the context is one of the communication pillars of his organization today.

One of the neuralgic points of the sector is to think how to transmit confidence and security. Agueda Iglesias, representative of the hotel chain Palladium Hotel Group, emphasized that the key is to communicate security to travelers. To this end, it is necessary to make visible the training processes on care protocols and capacity studies and others that hotels and their employees are carrying out.

In addition to raising corporate awareness about compliance with biosecurity protocols, Juan Sebastián Molano, from Wingo, said that a plus in this process is to make it clear to travelers that the tourism sector and its members are working hand in hand with health and government authorities who are experts in the management and behavior of the virus.

Diego Piquín went a little further and problematized the panorama by assuring that according to experience, trust is a difficult feeling to rebuild, but that the human need to go out and get to know new environments is a plus for the sector.

For Catalina, the key word in the reactivation is “transparency” and this must also be transmitted through digital channels that also provide the traveler with the peace of mind that all the possibilities of something happening are thoroughly studied and that the hotel or airline already have a response to it.

Undoubtedly, Covid-19 encouraged the adoption of new consumption styles and in this scenario, tourism had to rethink its service and marketing strategies. According to Diego Piquin, from Bariloche, tourists want to return to destinations that offer them “something better”, from better services to a better experience. And due to the prominence of digitalization today, in post-pandemic tourism, travelers are using these media much more to express their perceptions and travel experiences.

Precisely on the level of digitization of life that drove the Covid-19, Piquin said that those entrepreneurs who do not adapt to new mechanisms such as e-commerce, will find great challenges of solvency and operation. Agueda Iglesias, from Palladium Hotel Group, supports the idea and added that flexibility will be the guideline for any tourist experience and that travelers will not be looking for long distances, but for nearby, more comfortable and reliable spaces.

In the midst of the reactivation, the sector must offer a more human face. According to Juan Sebastián Molano, from Wingo airline, brands must look beyond the transactional to, paradoxically, stay within the budget of each customer, who will undoubtedly be looking for better deals.

Finally, Catalina Parada said that the consulting firm AXON Marketing & Communications has developed studies on the tourism sector and in all of them price, connectivity and experiences are decisive issues to define where to go on a trip. In the new normality are added the guarantees that the traveler expects related to health care, compliance with biosecurity protocols and the need to establish a closer and more human communication with the hotel or airline, through their respective digital media.

The tourism sector has been one of the most affected by the economic impact of Covid-19. There is talk of more than 6 million direct jobs at risk, while ECLAC warns that the fall of this sector would result in a decrease of 8 percentage points in the GDP of the Caribbean and 1 percentage point in Latin America.

In view of the above, it is more than necessary not only to rethink the offers and services provided by the sector, but also the tone of communication with stakeholders. As Catalina Parada, COO of AXON Marketing & Communications, says, “a well-fed reputation generates hope and in the new normality this helps in sales and consolidation”.