Small businesses makeup 83% of all U.S. travel related employers and are counted among organizations hardest hit by recent events, with 4.6 million jobs affected. As a Destination Marketing and Management Organization, your partners will be looking to you for guidance.
To help you support your community, we’ve compiled a list of resources and ideas to share with stakeholders and local business owners. Thanks to our friend and consultant to the industry, Roger Brooks from the Downtown Destination Association, for some of these great ideas.
1. Remain Calm.
Your partners need to see you as a guiding force to keep travel and tourism in your area alive through this storm. Don’t go dark on your website or on social media. Stay informed and acknowledge that these are very challenging times indeed but be as much of a calming influence in your community as possible. In Marketing Action Planning we call this being realistic AND aspirational.
2. Go Local.
Promote your local restaurants who offer delivery and/or takeout by showcasing them on social media and on your website, along with any delivery services they may be partnered with (such as Grub Hub, Waitr, Door Dash, Uber Eats, etc.). Dining at a Distance allows you to add your city and your local restaurants along with who has delivery, to-go and curbside options as well as hours of operation.
Also, show some love to local shops that offer online shopping by encouraging people to visit their websites or purchase gift cards to be redeemed later. Doing so will help small businesses with cash flow.
Promote what you’re doing to mitigate the spread of the virus. The CDC has numerous free graphics and icons that can be downloaded for use in marketing and communication materials. Share information with your community partners on sanitization and staying healthy, such as this Social Distancing Poster detailing best practices:
4. Support your partners.
Share resources with small businesses and local industry partners to use in times of crisis, such as:
- Business Continuity Plan and Financial Worksheets
- Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- Preparedness for Emergencies
As well as this list of goodwill resources put together by executive coach, Scott Monty.
- Google announces free Hangouts Meet for businesses.
- Dropbox and HelloSign offer a free 3-month subscription.
- Airbnb issues refunds.
- GrubHub suspends collections from struggling restaurants.
- UberEats waives delivery fees.
- Delta waives cancellation fees.
- Facebook announces a $100M donation to 30,000 Small Businesses.
Share these resources with your local small businesses and encourage them to take advantage of them.
5. Utilize Mainstreet America.
Here, you can find resources for downtowns and webinars with helpful tips. This graphic is a great example of a resource that can be shared on social media:
6. Highlight Camping.
RV travel is one of the fastest-growing travel trends that can still be enjoyed in the midst of social restrictions, with campgrounds and parks offering outdoor experiences that allow people to travel and still practice social distancing. Campgrounds in your market need to ensure they list their information on sites like Campedium and Recreation.gov. And remember, even if you are not yet collecting accommodations tax from campgrounds, campers will still spend money in your market at gas stations, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, grocery stores, etc.
7. Promote the Outdoors.
Encourage locals and travelers to visit outdoor spaces where they can enjoy nature and still self-isolate. Everyone can benefit from fresh air, sunshine, and exercise which helps reduce stress and strengthen immune systems. It’s a natural way to help prevent infections. Promote images of trails and parks in your destination. Create campaigns that encourage visitors to get outdoors. Promote day trips with children and encourage kayaking, canoeing and trail hiking, as well as physical activities such as walking and biking to help minimize stress. Consider creating a PDF map of outdoor activities, especially the ones that are educational for children who have to be out of school for weeks. Be on the lookout for photos and stories to share from locals or visitors when they discover all that they can do in your destination even during these challenging times. Promote Mother Nature!
8. Promote Agritourism.
Share agritourism opportunities in that are still accessible in your destination, such as wineries, breweries, farms, and “you-pick” excursions. List wineries and breweries on the Harvest Host Programs website and promote through social media. Consider creating a downloadable map of agritourism activities or suggested itineraries for visitors.
9. Evaluate your destination’s digital footprint.
Now is also the time to examine Google Reviews, Yelp Reviews, and TripAdvisor to update listings and include outdoor activities, plus takeout options for restaurants.
10. Do the things you “never have time” to do.
Take a class on search engine optimization, Google Analytics, Pinterest marketing, etc. Learn how to write more effective press releases, marketing communications and online content. Engage in webinars and other opportunities that will pay off in the long term.
Forge stronger relationships and deepen partnerships. Stay connected. And remember:
Kindness isn’t canceled.
Video-Chat isn’t canceled.
Social Media isn’t canceled.
We will recover from this pandemic and be stronger than ever.