Welcome to our third media and communications newsletter, designed to help you track travel- and corona-related developments that continue to affect our industry at large.
Now several weeks into our new reality, this newsletter will help set you up for success as the travel media begins to tell different stories – stories that we want to be a part of.
Over the last week, we’ve seen mainstream travel media explode with pieces about virtual travel experiences, while industry outlets have published think-pieces about how (and when) travel will recover. As the world continues to develop around COVID-19, insights on its impact on the travel industry are undergoing their own evolution—resulting in a divide between “false optimism” on imminent travel recovery, and realism.
Here at Bannikin, we are always advising our clients to rely on facts, and one of the only facts regarding the future of the travel industry is that we just don’t know where it’s going or what it will look like when this is all over. What we do know is that the travel industry is ripe for disruption, and this crisis may well be providing our industry with a blank slate. Read Bannikin Director Terrilyn Kunopaski’s article on the future of travel here.
According to top marketers in the travel industry, now is a crucial time to ensure clients care about your brand by forging much-needed personal connections with them. As you develop your ever-evolving editorial calendar in order to engage your clients and partners during this time, be sure to consider what you stand for, and what role you want your brand to play in our industry’s post-Covid-19 disruption.
Below is our weekly roundup of news, expert insights and food for thought about how to navigate this tricky line between staying connected to your clients and partners, and being respectful to the global situation we are all faced with.
If you can’t access an article due to a pay wall, let us know and we may be able to send it through to you.
Stay safe and healthy,
Your friends at Bannikin
The week at a glance
Tuesday, April 7:
- Japan declares month-long state of emergency
- Boris Johnson moved to intensive care unit as coronavirus symptoms have ‘worsened’
Monday, April 6:
- Europe’s coronavirus numbers offer hope as US enters ‘peak of terrible pandemic’
- In China, travel resumes–cautiously
- Airlines are now required to issue refunds for flights canceled due to coronavirus
- Carnival sells 8 percent stake to Saudis after dire financial warning
- United Air is sued by passenger for refusing to refund fare
Sunday, April 5:
- The virus forced New Zealand to close its borders last month, a previously unthinkable move for a nation with tourism as its top export earner.
- The coronavirus is hurting travel, so Greece has begun offering virtual tourism
Saturday, April 4:
- In Italy, going back to work may depend on having the right antibodies
- Cathay Pacific to cut more flights after carrying just 582 people in a day
Friday, April 3 :
- Georgia beaches reopened as of Friday night
- Russia to halt all flights at midnight on Friday, including for repatriation
- Emirates to resume 5 European airports from 6 April
- Austria opens the door to easing lockdown after containing virus
- Thailand suspends incoming passenger flights to fight coronavirus
- The US is not issuing new passports unless it’s a ‘life-or-death’ family emergency
- Delta cancellation policy: coronavirus rebooking extended for 2 years
Thursday, April 2:
- Coronavirus cases worldwide now top 1 million
- Where America didn’t stay home even as the virus spread
- The COVID-19 pandemic brings travel to a standstill, causing massive job and revenue losses. Will there be light at the end of the tunnel?
Wednesday, April 1:
- New survey reveals Americans’ travel concerns in the age of COVID-19
- Canada’s airline, tourism sectors facing ‘catastrophic’ decline due to COVID-19 pandemic
- Japan expands entry ban to more countries including United States, will ask all visitors to quarantine
- Carnival boosts bond sale after 12% yield attracts $17 billion
- In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, Trump’s close ally, dangerously downplays the coronavirus risk
Tuesday, March 31:
- British Airways suspends flights from Gatwick Airport; Gatwick closing one of its two terminals
- Indonesia bans foreign arrivals
- Adventure Travel Trade Association announces the 2020 Adventure Travel World Summit is officially postponed until September 20-23, 2021, with the new host destination to be announced soon
What the travel media are saying…
USA Today – Planning for life after coronavirus: When will we know it’s safe to travel again?
Snippet: Here are three things that must happen before US travelers return to the sky, sea and hotels. It’s not enough for just one of these entities to rescind its warnings. To be safe, wait for all three:
- The State Department must lift its Level 4 travel advisory.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has to give the “all clear.”
- The World Health Organization needs to give a thumbs-up to travel.
Snippet: Travel editor with the Irish Independent, Pól Ó Conghaile, was inspired to start the #WhenWeTravelAgain hashtag on Twitter, because people in Ireland can only engage in outdoor exercise within 2km of their homes at present.
New York Times – Why Is Getting a Refund From an Online Travel Agency So Hard?
Snippet: For many travelers looking to save money, booking through a third party site like Expedia, Priceline or Kayak has become second nature, especially for those looking for last-minute travel or package deals. Then came the coronavirus pandemic. Many people attempting to cancel trips and get refunds have learned that including a middleman when booking a trip can make things complicated.
What experts are saying…
Skift – Marketers Confront What Travel Will Look Like Post-Crisis
TL;DR: Posed with the question of what travel will look like by 2025, leading travel experts suggest the future of travel is:
- Highly localized: rural areas around cities; local businesses
- Focused on small: small resorts over mega chains, camping/glamping over conglomerates
- Nature-driven: natural, open spaces; away crowded urban centre
- Purposeful: trust and humility; projecting positivity; sharing values with clients
Bannikin – What does the future of travel look like? The fact is: we don’t know
TL;DR: We don’t know when the travel industry will recover from COVID-19, or what it will look like on the other side. The industry may have to be reimagined, as opposed to recovered, which gives the industry an opportunity to move ahead in areas where we have fallen behind for so long: equity and equality, sustainability, innovation, customer-first mentality.
As we’ve been tracking mainstream media coverage from five major travel media outlets over the last three weeks, we’ve seen the emergence of several trends:
1. Virtual experiences: Online experiences that not only keep the exploration fire burning, but provide a service to meet people’s renewed need for personal growth and at-home activities
These stories began to emerge within the first week of our international travel bans, and have only continued to pick up steam.
2. Travel news: Updates on the COVID-10 pandemic as it related to global travel
We continue to see stories that focus on travel news and updates, but these have slowed somewhat after the initial wave of travel bans and airline cancellations.
3. Traveller behaviour: Service pieces about how to change flights, transfer tours, etc.
We continue to see these kinds of stories – particularly as they relate to getting refunds from airlines – though we’ve also started to see stories of tips and hacks return, such as how to store your travel gear when you’re home.
4. Emotional impact stories: Articles about how coronavirus is impacting travel writers and editors
In the first week of our international travel bans, we saw stories like how it’s okay to be sad that your travel plans are cancelled; now, these kinds of personal essays are more focused on lessons from travel that help with self-isolation, signalling a more optimistic, pragmatic tone than the initial wistfulness.
5. Good news stories: Uplifting human/environmental stories that relate to the current reality
Though we saw many of these stories several weeks ago (Italians singing together from their rooftops, an elderly couple meeting for dates at a border), these stories have shifted more into mainstream news, and travel media has focused its attention on virtual experiences, instead.
6. Wanderlust: Narratives designed to inspire people to dream about/plan/book travel
Though we are seeing many past wanderlust stories being shared on outlets’ social media accounts, we are not seeing many new wanderlust stories published, save for those that were previously planned for print magazines.
Over the next week, we will continue to see virtual experience stories dominate the mainstream travel media landscape. That said, with so much competition in the “virtual experience space”, in order to appeal to the media, these kinds of experience need to:
- Be interactive – it’s not enough anymore to just “watch” or “read” something; instead, focus on activities that engage the viewer from their living room, like learning a language in a virtual classroom, taking a tour on Google Earth, or enjoying a live DJ party.
- Be personal – in this new world of social distancing, maintaining connections between people is not only beneficial, it’s a necessity. Showcasing how your guides or brand leaders are spending their time at home, having them speak on topics that interest both them and your clients and allowing clients to learn more about the people behind the brand is a great way to start.
- Solve a problem – people are feeling high levels of anxiety, so set up a live meditation class; children are adapting to online learning, so think of what kind of learning tools you can put online; and people are craving a reprieve from their work from home routine, so offer virtual activities like drawing classes and live concerts.
Keep in mind for the week ahead
Over the next week, we will continue to see virtual travel experiences dominate the mainstream travel media, while industry outlets continue to discuss high-level projections for the days, weeks, and months ahead. It’s important to remember that while many experts will continue to share their opinions on the industry’s recovery, the only truth we know right now is that we don’t know when or how travel will resurface.
What we do know is through content marketing and media relations, there are still ways to connect with our clients and provide them with solutions (or alleviations) to their problems, which will go a long way in maintaining an emotional connection with them down the line. Today, more than ever, connecting with people – and providing ways for them to connect to each other – is paramount, so focus on harnessing the power of people in order to propel a sense of community, one that can be accessed virtually, for now, and in real life, down the line.
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