Confidence in Their Safety is Important to Overseas Visitors: As part of Connect Travel’s ongoing “Staying Connected—Virtual Roundtable Series,” Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events recently took part with Elvi Cal, vice president product development, TravelBrands Inc., a large Canadian operator that includes several major brands; and Dutch tour operator Wolfgang Hendrix, CEO, Wolf Consultancy BV in a busy webinar attended by more than 200 tour and travel industry professionals. The panel dealt with questions that ranged from what will the cost be of new safety protocols of a post-COVID-19 travel environment to the Visit USA travel experience … to the what they saw as the prospects for travel to the USA in the near- and long-term future.
Bailey, the panel moderator, summed up the panel’s key discussion points in the following Five Key Takeways:
|1. A Matter of Trust: The only way to improve consumer sentiment is through confidence. Confidence in their safety when traveling, the cleanliness of products and destinations, and the tour operators with whom they travel. Tour operators need you to share any safety messages including social distancing regularly so they can include your destinations, hotels and activities in their communications.|
2. Safe. Clean. Open. Tour operators are focusing on keeping customers abreast of new regulations and safety protocols. As each state and/or city may differ, a standard, consistent message updating your partners on new directives, openings, and safe and clean strategies are needed.
3. Patterns Will Change: Tour operators predict their clients will stay closer to home initially. All properties with a safe and clean strategy will fare better but smaller, boutique hotels seem to have an edge over mega properties or rental homes. Fly/drive travel and road trips allowing for more experiential travel over large tours could be preferred.
4. Be Authentic: The way you tell your story could be more important than the story itself. Tour operators want honest and real messaging. Be unique and share local secrets and destination updates. When doing this in an authentic way – that is true to your brand – you will build their trust in you, your product or destination, and ultimately their end consumer.
5. Connect and Communicate: Communicating with your airports, partners, colleagues and competitors has never been more crucial. Develop messaging to make visitors feel safe and welcome, and partner with your local, regional and state tourism offices to distribute.
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