More than 200 people clicked through to be a part of Connect Travel’s recently convened “Staying Connected” roundtable webinar featuring a brisk-paced discussion between Will Seccombe, president of Connect Travel, and Josh Collins, director of destination activations and marketing for Streetsense. The question they addressed was “Coming out of the Shutdown: There will be winners and losers. Where will you land?”
| Top Takeaways
1. Disruption=reinvention. So, let’s focus on 2021 and think long-term. Let’s have destination-focused conversations now and set new goals. We must all re-define success because the numbers game is over.
2. Remember, short-term gains will produce short-term results that will not drive us to meet long-term goals.
3. Use this time to ask difficult questions and to wisely re-frame your WHY. Borrow a tip from business-oriented visionaries to ask: Who is my ideal target consumer? Beyond identifying your audience, build your audience like a new business would. Discuss purpose of visit, seasonality, length of stay, spending patterns, etc. to build a long-term approach.
4. Dig deeper into the soil of the destination; look beyond having a product that’s widely available or offering ‘great deals,’ because that won’t motivate anybody. Look at intent to travel: purpose, people, experiences, stories that resonate, community sentiment.
5. We’re approaching 2021 with an empty funnel. SInce everyone now recognizes the value of tourism and can see how tourism will lead us out of recession, this is a great opportunity to put aside debates about funding and build a private/public coalition around what we have in common.
6. Building strong partnerships in tough times will benefit the destination in good times to come. It’s a critical time to: Identify allies in public sector leadership and to build lasting regional partnerships around themes (like country music) that work well for those ‘great road trips of 2020.’
7. Think ahead, think long-term, tread carefully and with purpose. When you know where you want to go, you will figure out a way to get there.
Will Seccombe: “Pretty much any destination in the country last year had a press release at some point that said that they had record visitation. We’ve we had an incredible 10-year run of record visitation to pretty much every destination around the country. As a result, all of our businesses are optimized through that kind of high growth environment by the very nature of everybody having had record visitation. But, for half of those destinations, while their visitor volume was increasing, they were actually losing market share. The question now is: Are you growing just right? Along with the rising tide are you actually growing markets here?
Josh Collins: “In recent years, we ended the year going ‘Yeah!’ and patting ourselves on the back We can’t wait till the annual report comes out in the middle of next year when we can put the press release out there and celebrate and do all that. And then 2020 comes in and now we’re all scrambling. We are having to ask hard questions that, because we probably have been so comfortable with success, that we’ve not had to before.”
Will Seccombe: “Tourism marketers, in times of challenge. are going to shrink up and have a smaller footprint. So, what might be a really good short-term strategy could be a very dangerous long-term strategy. To me, targeting rather than just shrinking my footprint as a destination is a better strategy. How about just targeting any Amex platinum card holders? They’re probably more likely to travel. And an Amex campaign is going to bring in higher yield visitors than or Visa regional traffic. So, a I think really playing through how you can identify and target the kind of visitors that you want that, that are going to fit your community and support the businesses in your community and not just people that are taking advantage of the destination.”
Josh Collins: “There are tons of research that we do about who and what’s our visitor profile and who are the visitors coming to our destination and what do they look like. and what do they spend and all this kind of stuff. But the interesting thing that I have seen is that very rarely have I heard or experienced teams actually going ‘Okay. Is that who we want?’ ‘What’s our ideal buyer?’ ‘Who’s our ideal customer? … so that they can tailor and shape their messaging.’’ To listen to and watch the webinar, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYhfZWHKp6Y