Travel firms should consider DIY marketing and PR to help them through the Covid-19 crisis, experts have suggested.
A session at touring and adventure travel trade association Atas’s Virtual Week heard how agents and operators can sustain their marketing activities as travel restrictions continue.
The marketing panel said it was vital travel brands continue to engage with customers to retain and build back trust for when they are ready to travel again.
Digital Drums chief executive Steve Dunne said companies do not have to spend large sums on expensive marketing consultancies.
“There are all sorts of things that may make you wonder why on Earth you want to be marketing right now,” he said.
“But all the research tells us that trust is a major issue for whatever traveller from whatever sector they are coming from.
“It has to be said that the travel industry has suffered a bit of a reputational crisis itself because of the refunds and credit notes issue.
“From 2021 onwards, trust is going to be something we are going to have to win and earn. It maybe more important than the desire to travel and price may be weighed against trust.”
Dunne said there is a lot that brands can do themselves to market their products and services with minimum expense.
“There are diamonds in your own backyard,” he said. “If you can harness that you can do some very effective marketing for little or no money at all.”
Dunne suggested firms use in-house experts to generate PR on targeted online and traditional media channels and do basic direct database marketing to customers.
And he said firms can exploit social networks by creating sharable blogs, full of information and advice, and rich content like imagery and videos that consumers like.
“It’s all about sharing knowledge and rich content. Shareability is the key word in marketing at the moment. Knowledge is power, but knowledge sharing is power multiplied.”
David Forder, head of marketing at travel agency consortium Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “There is a time and place for big [marketing] agencies, but a lot of our members are small independent agencies and do not have the funds to invest in that type of support.
“There is a lot small independent agencies can do themselves if they look at what they have got available to them.”
Katie Elson, head of marketing at APT Travel Group, said the luxury and river cruise operator has been helping agent partners with marketing.
“We have recognised that agents are really busy at the moment, particularly on refunds and building confidence with consumers.
“We have created an agent club portal which hosts a range of marketing material. Within that there is are customisable marketing flyers, social posts, and product information so they can demonstrate their expertise to the client.
“We are launching webinars as well for agents so they can use them either to set up their own one-to-ones with customers or engage with the rest of their teams.”
Elson added: “What [agents] are looking for is the best way to communicate the product [information] to their customers to drive their own sales.
“If we can make it easy for them to demonstrate how to use it to give them the option to be able to adapt that content it’s a quick win and a benefit for both if us.”
To register for the rest of Virtual Touring and Adventure Week and access full content including exclusive business, networking and social events for free, click here.