As COVID cases continue to rise, it’s clear that tourism won’t be going back to normal anytime soon. Travel as we know it has changed, which means destination marketing needs to change with it. Here’s how you can adjust your content strategy to evolve with this new reality.
1. Build a content experience for locals
If your content strategy doesn’t already involve engaging with locals, now is the time to start. With less tourists coming in, the people who live at your destination will be vital in your recovery efforts.
That means your content plan should include articles and blogs directed specifically at locals. This might include expanding into territory you normally don’t cover. Dining specials, retail deals, small neighborhood events, staycations, and day trips are things that might not resonate with tourists, but will be of interest to a local audience.
Take a look at your existing content and see how it can be tweaked and repurposed for a local audience.
For example, Choose Chicago created a digital guide that features content curated specifically for Chicagoans, with an emphasis on dining, neighborhoods, staycations, and outdoor activities—all topics that align with the city’s reopening plans and current restrictions, while still encouraging locals to get out and explore. A portal like this is the perfect starting point to invite users to explore your content through a local lens.
Keep in mind that this audience knows your location best, making them your best advocates and harshest critics. Locals don’t need you to tell them the basics. Try focusing on under-the-radar and lesser-known attractions and events. Above all, make sure the content you share with locals is an authentic representation of your destination.
2. Provide the latest information
In a pre-COVID world, DMOs could get away with a website full of evergreen articles that didn’t need much updating. But set-it-and-forget-it content is no longer an option. The world is constantly shifting, whether it’s travel restrictions or canceled events, and people are looking to your organization for the most up-to-date information.
Create pages built around the latest keywords, like “COVID-19 in Houston” or “What’s Open in Detroit?”. Discover Los Angeles has a great page titled What’s Open: How to Enjoy a Safer LA that provides details on the city’s beaches, hiking, hotels, museums, and more.
This type of content gives you the opportunity to share accurate information and guidance to people who are looking for it. Keep these pages up to date with reopening information, travel restrictions, and cancellations/closures. If your DMO has a blog, that’s an excellent platform to share this type of information with users.
Also, make sure to include the latest safety measures related to your destination, like mandatory face coverings or enhanced sanitation practices. This can help reassure potential visitors that their safety is a top priority and make them feel more comfortable visiting your destination.
3. Find ways to spotlight and support partners
Your partners are pivoting, which means you’ll need to shift your content strategy to support them. Look at what your partners are offering. Do they have new virtual experiences? Special deals or discounts? Expanded outdoor dining? Whatever it is, you should be using your content and digital spaces to spread the word to visitors and locals.
For instance, New York City’s CVB uses their homepage to prominently feature ways consumers can experience the city while highlighting local NYC businesses. The page includes takeout and delivery, online shopping, virtual tours, and other ways to connect with and support their partners—all without leaving home.
There are tons of ways to use your website and content to support your partners (you can find more ideas here). It’s a tactic that’s more important now than ever. Local restaurants, theatres, and organizations across industries are struggling. And they won’t forget the things you do to lift them up during these difficult times.
4. Showcase how you and your partners are giving back.
More than half of consumers want to hear how brands are helping their communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the American Association of Advertising Agencies. How have you and your partners been supporting your destination during the pandemic? Are your restaurant partners providing meals for front-line workers? Did your organization hold a fundraiser or pass out masks to seniors?
Whatever it is, use your content to put on a spotlight on these good deeds. It can help win over locals, partners, and potential visitors, while also helping build a stronger and safer destination. If you can’t think of any altruistic examples, it’s not too late. Find ways to give back to your local community and help see your destination through these trying times.