With many countries around the globe in lockdown, “travelling” further than to the local shops and back is highly unlikely. Yet that doesn’t stop a person from scrolling on their iPhone, dreaming and planning their next trip overseas?

Like with any crisis, this one will pass. But it seems like there is nothing the travel and tourism industry can currently do to generate bookings. Or is there?

Now is the best time for DMOs to contemplate. Don’t cave into the doom and gloom news, get proactive. Remember, it is in mankind’s nature to explore, to feel part of a tribe and household technology is on hand to keep that inspiration and sense of adventure on-going.

Roll up your sleeves, DMOs, it’s time to research

The struggle for DMOs is real. Some destinations struggle with over-tourism. Some lesser-known, upcoming destinations fight to position themselves in the mindset of affluent travellers. Some destinations had their good image tarred by high COVID19 cases.

In a world with 7.8 billion people with 195 countries to choose from, how do you make your destination stand out or even be heard?

Don’t feel overwhelmed, equip yourself with hard-hitting facts. Yes, it’s time to put on your thinking cap and re-think your tourism strategy backed by the latest data. Not just any data, but ForwardKeys Data that is updated daily from multiple sources including a global network of GDSs (travel agents) and direct from the horse’s mouth, airlines.

So now, before there is even the slightest indication of recovery to travel, is exactly the right time to plan for that very special day, when life goes back to being gloriously normal.

But one must ask themselves – Will it really be “back to normal”? Do you wish to continue just like you did in the past, or do you want to better understand and control the types of tourists coming to your destination?

Answer these questions truthfully because it will drive the course of the tourism path of your destination. And you don’t want to be caught with a flat tyre when competing with all the other nations in the recovery marathon.

However, there’s a colossal difference between desperately trying to get more visitors – any visitors – to your destination to the other scenario. One where you have done your homework in advance and crafted a well-defined strategy attracting international visitors the local community is content with.

Research, travel data and analysis are key in how everything pans out for your DMO. Look at the traveller numbers: what visitors came to your destination? Are they groups, leisure or business travellers? What actions were required from the DMO to obtain these results? This retrospective analysis will help you build up your plans.

 

Give wings to the Daydreamer

Like a fallen angel with their wings clipped, many people are suffering from cabin fever after being cooped up for one to two months in self-isolation.

Never has daydreaming of travel and exploration been a tool for sheer sanity. Clever tour operators, media partners and DMO’s are still posting aspirational images on Instagram and Twitter with hashtags such as #TravelTomorrow and #TogetherInTravel. Travel doesn’t just stop, it pauses.

It’s time to tap into this travel market and convert them to a future booker. Our latest Flight Search data confirms this. Italians, who are currently in a strict lockdown, are still searching for trips overseas.

The difference simply is a matter of time. Last year in March, Italians were searching predominantly for flights in Q2. This year in March we saw that Italians were looking at making trips in Q3 and Q4. The same pattern is visible in Greece and Spain.

 

This simply demonstrates that no matter the crisis or circumstances, it’s in our human DNA to travel. And yes, people are thinking about where to go to once the Coronavirus crisis is settled.

Maybe your destination is being searched for at this very minute, what’s your DMO strategy going to be?

 

The day Recovery arrives…

The first signs of recovery will be visible when people start booking their flights again. Keep a steadfast eye on airline schedules to witness how your destination is growing, what competing flight routes are available, or to learn of underused corridors.

Recovery or  “green shoots” of recovery are being monitored as we speak. Over the course of time, new shoots will pop up and your DMO can be one of the first to prepare for the demand by accessing our ForwardKeys Capacity tool.

We believe Business travellers will be the second category to start travelling again, as business shall continue to involve business travel, perhaps on a smaller scale as digital tools such as Zoom have grown in popularity. Only once consumer confidence grows and the economy picks-up, will we see a rebound of leisure travellers travelling further afar. Who will you be targeting and how?

Rather than returning to the status quo, of doing what you have always done, now is the right time to break for a change. There has never been this much time for reflection or a legit excuse to break the rules. Welcome to the new norm, emerge out of the COVID19 pandemic, triumphantly!