Why You Should Be Focusing on Building Emotional Relationships With Future Guests Now to Improve Your Chances of Recovery Post COVID-19

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes | 1056 words

Industry experts believe that fostering guest loyalty and empathy right now by building emotional relationships with your audience will give your business’ recovery a better chance down the line. As Sara Garibaldi, partner and managing director of travel & economic development at Ketchum, shares in a recent interview with PRovoke Media.

“We need to understand now that the tourism industry will be facing a new post-Covid-19 reality where companies are all vying for the hearts and minds of wary travelers—likely in some form of a sustained economic downturn driven by this crisis.”

The data already shows that people are increasingly being driven by purposeful travel and experiences, we need to prepare for an increase in this as travellers become more thoughtful about with whom and where they spend their hard-earned money.

“As a function of the crisis, we [customers] will interact only with brands with which we share similar values. Before the crisis, there’s a lot of research showing Gen Z only wants to interact with brands with purpose. Today I believe that mindset will very quickly shift to a much wider demographic and will need to include trust and humility,” said Quo Global’s CEO David Keen. “That purpose should have something that projects positivity about the destination’s environment, its people, its food.”

Fostering guest loyalty has never been more important and it’s why brands are going all in to encourage people to invest their time, hearts and imaginations into their offerings and brand for the future. In this article we will share some of the creative ways that tourism brands are continuing to draw in an international crowd, albeit virtually for now.

01 Puerto Rico

Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico shared with PRovoke Media how they are focusing on their island’s strengths to draw in the curious would-be travelers and encourage them to consider Puerto Rico for their first trip abroad after the crisis is contained.

“Right now, we are focusing on ensuring future visitors are inspired by the unique characteristics and world class experiences that Puerto Rico offers hence why we launched our “virtual weekend escape” and have other ideas brewing. By bringing traditional salsa, cuisine and cocktails from the Island into people’s homes, we’re showing them all that will be waiting for them on the Island once things settle down. While we aren’t encouraging travel right now, we certainly encourage travelers to day dream about our Island now and plan travel to our beautiful island when the time is right.”

02. Abu Dhabi

The destination managers for Abu Dhabi understand that future guests are more likely to be drawn to destinations located in nature and far away from the crowds.

“We believe that the current global crisis will compel the international traveler to slowly test the waters across emerging destinations with less pressure, where they can enjoy healthy choices, nature, top affordable luxury hospitality, and clean facilities and attractions,” said Saeed Rashed Al Saleed, destination marketing director of Abu Dhabi Culture & Tourism.

To tap into the needs of all of us stuck at home, suffering from cabin fever and with pent-up dreams of travel in our mind, Abu Dhabi have released a video on their social media platforms to build awareness of their incredible locations that are most likely to be a hit when people begin travelling once more. Destinations such as oases, expansive swathes of beach and desert and retreats set amongst nature.

All the while they are continuing to expand their efforts to offer safe conditions and high standards of cleanliness for their international travellers.

“We will be ready to offer our visitors a safe, healthy, and detoxing platform to decompress once borders begin to open,” said Al Saleed.

03. Greece

The destination managers for Greece have rolled out an entire new website greecefromhome.com to encourage lovers of all things Greek to “Stay inspired and experience the very best of Greece, from home.”

By sharing their diverse offerings to virtual travelers via their YouTube channel they are tapping into the much-desired opportunity to escape from our current realities and encouraging us to daydream, not only passively, but to also interact actively with their unique culture. By offering lessons in Greek cuisine from renowned chefs, to Greek-inspired music, mythology and arts to showcasing videos of experiences you can expect to have in Greece in the future

04. St Lucia

Who amongst us doesn’t wish to be spending our self isolation period on a tropical beach soaking up the sun? St Lucia’s DMO helps build the scene in our minds by offering a twice weekly virtual escape to their Caribbean island in #7minutesinstlucia.

“Let the calm breeze of the Caribbean Sea open up all of⁠ your senses for a virtual escape as we connect, ease stress and spread positive energy.⁠”

05. andBeyond

Chief marketing officer of andBeyond, Nicole Robinson agrees with many experts in the industry who believe that nature will be desired by travelers all the more after the crisis dissipates. As proof of their faith, they are still going ahead with the opening of a river lodge in Bhutan at the beginning of 2021. The company has reported that 90 percent of their guests have chosen to postpone their trips rather than cancel.

“We’re preparing for a slow recovery. What we’re hearing from our key markets is that local travel will most likely pick up first. We’re also hearing, something very encouraging to us, that travelers are more likely to be interested in travel to explore nature and turning to more meaningful, purposeful travel experiences.”

They recently launched a new campaign #andBeyondathome which showcases experiences, books, music and curated recipes to share with their audience. By remaining close to their guests and trade partners they are able to gain a clearer insight into how travelers mindsets and desires are beginning to shift.

The company, who specialise in safari experiences, have teamed up with WildEarth to broadcast live footage of the goings on each day on safari via the WILDwatch LIVE channel.

In summary

  • Draw attention to your destination and property’s unique characteristics.
  • Get creative to help people experience your location from afar via a virtual escape.
  • Continue to build emotional relationships with your audience.
  • Keep people connected to your brand and destination by showcasing the best of what you offer and by creating interactive videos, tutorials or demonstrations.

“Now is the time for companies to look within and understand that the brands that will succeed are those that have an emotional relationship with clients,” said Quo Global’s Keen

Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy

Gain access to our COVID-19 Hotel Reopening Checklist

As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.

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