How we’re keeping travel dreams afloat

Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2020 by Ben Jones

As the world worked to slow the spread of COVID-19 this spring, most people’s travel plans had to be put on hold. But while travelers couldn’t get in their cars and physically visit a destination, the need for destinations to connect with their audiences didn’t stop—in fact, building connections with travelers this year has been more important than ever. When travel is safe and permissible, we want people to already be thinking about their next travel destination, and we have spent the last few months getting them to do just that.

We’ve helped places continue conversations with travelers by developing and launching a mix of creative projects that leverage social media and help people enjoy a little “vacation” at home.

Here are some examples of what we’ve done:

  • Coordinated video interviews with small business owners to help them stay connected with visitors and share their updated offerings and services
  • Adapted our messaging to “dream now, visit later” language, consistent with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and others in the industry
  • Promoted carry-out dining and online shopping options to help support local businesses
  • Invited people to share memories and photos of past vacations and curated that content on multiple platforms for our clients
  • Created COVID-19 resource pages on destination websites, updating the content as necessary
  • Created “5 minutes of relaxation” videos for client destinations on YouTube, featuring topics like a Northwoods sunset or a gently flickering campfire
  • Designed special COVID-19-related graphics encouraging residents and visitors to abide by official recommendations on masks and social distance procedures
  • Worked with several counties in northern Wisconsin to launch a “We love the Northwoods” campaign, encouraging visitors to share their Northwoods memories
  • Designed and sold a T-shirt featuring Rhinelander’s famous Hodag to help raise money for local businesses impacted by COVID-19 in Rhinelander
  • Used our Hodag Fan Club to promote fun games and activities for kids and families who are stuck at home
  • Created virtual photo tours of destinations across Wisconsin
  • Designed thank you posts and graphics for essential workers
  • Created funny photos and videos of Rhinelander’s Hodag in quarantine (check him out on TikTok!)
  • Promoted an effort to distribute special floral arrangements to local hospital workers on behalf of Hilldale shopping center
  • Ran a lighthearted photo contest that asked people to submit vacation “photo fails”

While a lot is uncertain in the weeks and months ahead, it will be important to keep talking with the travelers of today and tomorrow in new and creative ways. We’ll continue to find ways to keep the conversation going, and we’ll share some of these ideas on this blog.