Best Practices for Stakeholder Support
When I think about all that has transpired over the last few weeks, the two words that come to mind are uncertainty and uneasiness. The travel and tourism community has been upended by booking and event cancellations, trip postponements, and the temporary closings of many local businesses as communities around the world grapple with how best to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But even in this uncertain climate, Destination Management Organizations can play an important role in supporting local stakeholders – the lifeblood of your destination. And while the health and safety of your community should be deciding factors in any decisions you make, there are real steps you can take to help your tourism and travel ecosystem weather the storm. Below we’ve shared a couple of ideas for supporting your community and your stakeholders during this time.
Create a Landing Page.
Create a landing page on your Website dedicated not only to CDC guidelines and the latest developments regarding travel in your region but also to share how businesses in your area are adapting with the changes. For example, some restaurants have turned their wait staff into delivery drivers to avoid layoffs due to lack of dine-in business. Other locally owned establishments — like this bookshop in Montgomery — have continued serving their community through online ordering and delivery while their doors remain closed to the public. To give them a visibility boost, consider doing the following:
- Link directly to food delivery, take-out order forms, and online shopping pages
- Feature any virtual tours, online tutorials or educational videos your attractions may be conducting
- Repurpose your community events calendar to feature virtual events, such as live-streamed musical performances or online classes
Keep up your Social Media.
While we’re all in unfamiliar territory and learning each day how to navigate this crisis, one thing is certain: now is not the time to go dark on social media. On the contrary — now is a great time to increase your online activity. If you haven’t done so already, suspend your social ad campaigns and reallocate those dollars to promoting your stakeholders. One idea could be dedicating days to specific industries — like Take-Out Tuesday, Workshop Wednesday or Small Business Saturday (yes, we know that the last one is already a thing. But why not make it every Saturday instead of just once a year?).
Additionally, your social media page should be a hub of useful information for stakeholders, locals and visitors alike. Any posts you make should be positive, informative and up-to-date, as social media is one of your most influential lines of communication to the outside world.
You may consider creating a private Facebook group for local business owners and members of the community, holding weekly Question & Answer sessions to alleviate uncertainty, demonstrate solidarity, and ensure that any needs do not go unmet if it’s within your power to meet them.
Retool Your E-newsletter.
An e-newsletter is a powerful method of reaching people outside your community with information about local shops, eateries, and attractions they may have visited while in-market and how they can continue to support them. It’s also an effective way to remain in contact with target markets, promote brand awareness and prime them to book a visit when it is safe to do so.
Continue Blogging Efforts.
If you have incorporated a blog into your website, take advantage of this tool to promote resources that locals can use to support their community. If you’re not blogging, now is an ideal time to start, as blogs are one way to add fresh, relevant content that search engines crave. Furthermore, don’t forget about your PR relationships with travel writers who are also blogging. Many writers still have assignments to complete during this crisis. And while the message may shift from “visit now” to “visit later”, travel writers will welcome the opportunity to continue working. Any way you can help others will be remembered when our lives return to normal.
While we can’t control this crisis, we can control our response to it. Remain community-focused, be proactive about supporting your stakeholders, and maintain open lines of communication. The only way we will get through this is if we walk through it together.