Re•thinkTravel Marketing is probably the timeliest named company in history. As all travel companies are in the midst of a crisis and trying to figure out a way to navigate through and beyond the pandemic, several travel-oriented marketing consultancies decided to join forces to create Re•think Travel Marketing.
Hugh Hough, a co-founder and partner, said he and his partners had been trying different strategies with their clients. After three months, they realized they had collected a lot of wisdom and asked themselves, ”why not use this expertise for something else?”
The three that joined to form Re•think Travel Marketing are: CornerSun, a full-service destination marketing and communications consultancy specializing in working with national tourism boards and emerging destinations; Emerging Destinations, specializing in hands-on trade relations, marketing and sales with companies that have a strong conservation ethos; and Green Team Global, which specializes in travel and sustainability.
Re•thinkTravel Marketing, which launched a website in August, has a three-part mission for its clients: “re-evaluate” with a customized audit of current marketing efforts leading to a strategic action plan; “re-cover” by implementing the initial stages of the action plan; and “re-build” by implementing the final stages of the plan that will lead to a more successful and sustainable future.
Since forming in June, the partners have learned multiple lessons, among them not to let the crisis overwhelm you and take over everything you are doing. “All we are doing is reacting,” Hough said. He added it’s difficult to convince clients to think about what will happen after the pandemic, but he believes travel will come back with a vengeance. It may be a different kind of tourism: maybe no mass tourism, maybe no large cruise ships for a while.
David DiGregorio, another partner and co-founder, said the company’s goal is seeing opportunity in the crisis. When the pandemic started, “people took pity on me as far as my business,” he said. But these have been some of his busiest months as his clients figure out how to proceed. Some trends that had been in process -- like spreading travelers out geographically and seasonally to deal with overtourism -- have been accelerated. “This is a time to reposition and rethink destinations,“ said DeGregorio,
It’s great to reinvent, but as DiGregorio acknowledged, travel budgets are hard to come by. “No one knows when this will end, but there will be an end, so you need a roadmap. The question is, do you want to wait until it ends to develop a plan?”
Christina Conrado, an account supervisor with the company, said she has seen much “fear of action.” In an uncertain time, nobody knows what the right steps are to take. Many travel brands think they should be holding off on marketing and campaigns. But “Now is the time for action. We need a roadmap and can’t just go forward in the dark.”
Hough said one thing destinations should think about is changing the message for tourism: showing how important it is. He works with the country of Guyana, where 90% of the income in some villages is from tourism. “This is a story we need to get across -- tourism as a force for good.” He said the company is also coming up with protocols on how destinations and suppliers can deal with the post-COVID world, “to make sure they get it right.”
Over the next few months, whether the name of your company is Re•think Travel Marketing or not, you will have to, well, rethink travel marketing.