The Jerusalem Post
By Stan Steinreich
There are three key steps that operators should take to keep their seats appropriately full, rooms occupied and tour guides busy.
Israel’s travel and tourism industry is going to need to transform itself as it re-opens after the COVID-19 pandemic. Gone are the “salad days” of high room occupancy, seat yield and booked tour buses that permeated the industry just a few months ago. Travelers’ fears will be the guiding force in their decision making for the remainder of the year as many have canceled their summer trips and go back and forth as to whether they should come in droves for Sukkot and Christian holidays in the fall and winter. This will not be a V-shaped recovery, but for some operators, it can be U-shaped rather than a swoosh as some are predicting.
But the outlook will not be bleak for the air, hotel and destination operators who can pivot marketing efforts to address consumer concerns and present a clear message about a unique and special travel experience.
There are three key steps that operators should take to keep their seats appropriately full, rooms occupied and tour guides busy:
Have a clear and concise message.
Now is not the time to present a utopian view of your resort or the country for that matter, but rather a simple message about what the new travel experience will be for visitors. Simply explain the steps you are taking to assure cleanliness, safety – and maybe even more important – the enjoyment the visitor will have even in the new world in which we live. It’s important to assure them that their safety and well-being is your top priority. It’s important to remember that in many ways, Israel is ahead of most of the world in terms of re-opening. While Israel started their reopening process weeks ago, Europe and the United States were considerably behind in the timeline so consumers from those locations might need special messaging to assure them that it is safe to travel and stay with you, whereas locals might already be more comfortable returning to “normal.”
Tell the story anecdotally
Whether through images, videos or press releases, personalize the story to what a family, individual or group will experience when they come. It will be easier to do this by tapping into reporters and editors at key media who are interested in not only hearing about the innovation and creativity of the industry, but also paying attention to the media outlets that will have the most direct appeal to your customer. For example, if your target consumer is an English speaker from abroad, it is important that you publicize your message in the media they read – including the Anglo-Jewish or Christian media, depending on which market you are trying to hit with specific messages. Now is not the time to make big pushes to the general travel trade or consumer media to reach a broad audience.
Fully utilize social media
Sites like Facebook and Instagram are great ways to target audiences with posts that show the experience you will give the traveler but also take advantage of TikTok to show consumers how you are reading your hotel or airline to welcome them. Make sure that you are strategically planned over the course of a month so that you are showcasing the appropriate photos, videos for this new world and that you are incorporating posts that will appeal to all your audience groups. Now is not the time to be showing packed restaurants or pool areas. Gone are the photos of self-service buffets or tourist sites teaming with visitors.
As the government begins to allow the travel and tourism industry to reopen, the operators who are spending time preparing their marketing and messaging will be the ones to most succeed for the remainder of the year. Israel has a natural draw for so many tourist groups. There is a loyal base of not only repeat visitors, but religious pilgrims who will travel during the course of this year. But it will take innovation and creativity for operators to be able to gain share of voice and capture market share in what will be a scaled back travel season.
The writer is the president and CEO of Steinreich Communications, a Global Top 50 Public Relations firm, which works with many Israeli companies, including those in the tourism industry.