Travel Dives Deeper Into The Digital Space

Until three months ago, the travel industry was known for moving at a slower pace in the digital space. After all, the concept of planning a trip takes time and often research - it’s not a product that allows for instant consumer gratification like retail does. And then we have seasonal trends to keep in mind. Travel as we knew it was largely predictable. Meg Towner, Senior Digital Director at Hawkins International, shares her insights as travel dives deeper into the digital space. 

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, travel came to a screeching halt. With a roster of clients ranging from hotels and resorts, to cruise-lines, aviation companies and hospitality “start-ups,” we were faced with unprecedented challenges to overcome. With cities effectively shut down, borders closed to non-residents and organizations limiting all but essential travel, our clients were left with vacant hotels and villas, passenger-less cruise ships and airlines, cancelled tours – and no end in sight. Our challenge? How to keep these clients relevant. It’s been fascinating to see the resilience of the travel and hospitality industry. Those who didn’t go dark, stayed busy and the digital content and media space just got more creative...

How did we crank it up for clients in the digital space?

With the world outside in a constant state of flux and life seemingly shaped in 24-hour news cycles, it has been and continues to be challenging for hospitality businesses to grasp when, where, and how to communicate with their audiences. It became clear in March that we needed to pivot more than ever. We could no longer pitch our clients for the best places to travel or leverage seasonality and timely holidays as reason to visit a destination.

The first step was to work with our hospitality clients highlighting ways they could make elements of their travel and brand experience virtual and how to shift social media strategies to capitalize on the increased use of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and hosting educational and fun webinars for media and industry friends! Our goal was to make them see they could still reach travelers - At Home - and continue to engage with their current fan-base, while reaching new audiences through meaningful and tone-aware communications - providing both informative and wanderlust content. At the end of the day, we know there will be a pent-up demand for travel when the world opens up and brands who remain active and engaged will be front-of-mind.

Digital Success Examples

Beyond traditional media relations, our digital team of experts helped our clients pivot their digital and social strategies. Among the many campaigns we ideated and executed over the last 90 days, we:

Sorriso Modern Italian Kitchen

What have other travel and hospitality brands done in the digital space that we love?

Moving On - The Road to Reopening…

Now even as the travel industry starts to emerge from the peak of COVID-19 lockdown and economies begin to re-open, everyone is experiencing events of the day differently, so it is important to be mindful and create digital communication strategies that relate to broad audiences and take action quickly. Navigating this takes finesse and thoughtfulness. As situations around the world continue to evolve, so should your social strategies, which will vary from location to location and business to business as local policies and advisories allow. While no one “best practice” fits all, grasping the options is the first step toward successful communications. Hawkins International has curated some helpful tips to allow you to execute the strategy that works for your business.

General Tips and Tactics

Creating a new social strategy can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind as you dive in.

Content Planning

Deciding what content to tackle can be a difficult choice. We recommend starting with whichever platform currently has your most engaged audience – whether it be YouTube, your company’s blog, Instagram Stories or a newsletter. Test the waters with a platform you are comfortable with before expanding your content elsewhere and optimizing for different platforms. To keep yourself organized and on a regular cadence, we recommend creating a schedule (also known as a content calendar – see more below) to help you plan ahead. Lastly, don't be afraid to get a little trendy; if you see a surge in cocktail recipes one week, and you have a killer signature cocktail, go ahead and share it! Audiences naturally latch onto what's trending, so you can ensure your brand is a part of the conversation.

Here are a few easy content marketing tips:

As things trend towards a “new normal”, being increasingly present and engaged with your audience online won’t be considered a side-line effort but rather a key component of a truly integrated marketing plan post Covid-19. Brands who lay a solid digital marketing foundation now, will be set for success.

As you change your digital communications plans to meet the changing times, don't forget to turn to trusted advisors for help and guidance. And remember: When the world changes, you can always change them again.


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