How destinations can prepare for 2021

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 by Ben Jones

While this year has posed incredible challenges to travel and tourism, effective strategies have helped destinations navigate the storm. As we plan and craft strategies for 2021, it will be important build on some of the lessons learned this year—here are some things destinations can use to help speed the travel recovery in 2021.

Imagery

Strong images speak, inspire and motivate and are integral to any destination marketing effort. In 2020 they took in an additional role: reassurance. Destinations used images to communicate their measures to keep travelers safe and the beautiful open spaces and natural areas that allow travelers to responsibly enjoy time outdoors. Travel and the priorities of travelers have changed, and these images will have continuing value next year and beyond. Now is the time to continue to invest in photo libraries so you have appropriate and effective images to sustain your communication efforts throughout the year.

Social media

Social media channels this year allowed destinations to continue conversations with travelers who were temporarily unable to take a vacation. From fun quizzes to local scenes that offered tranquility, this was a time when inventive content was especially welcomed. As businesses reopened, social media helped promote businesses that are so important to the economic wellbeing of destination communities—lodging properties, restaurants, retailers, and service providers. Many people will be working from home for the foreseeable future, which presents a continued opportunity for social media. For example, some commuters who where behind the wheel listening to the radio for more than an hour a day will now be engaged online during that time. Others will be on their social media channels at times when they might have otherwise been occupied with business in the office. Continue to invest in the conversation.

SEO

Websites are a key source of information for travelers, but to be effective they must be discovered. There’s a lot of competition for audiences, and going into 2021, it’s critical that websites be optimized to connect with potential travelers. This is the time to make sure pages are loading quickly and links aren’t broken. Content drives traffic, so now is also the time to make sure you’re providing the content travelers are searching for. Outdoor experiences, like parks and places to hike, were huge drivers to destination websites in 2020. Those topics are likely to continue to be important in 2021—monitor your traffic, invest further in the content that’s performing and use it as a vehicle to inspire people to travel. Be mindful of the kinds of searches people are conducting and answer their questions with your content. Is it safe to travel right now?  Are the restaurants open? Where can I find a place to hike?