Here’s Why Florida Tourism Will Bounce Back Quickly After Lockdown
We are into our fifth week of the Stay-at-home order in Florida, and for those of us in the tourism industry, the cancellations and closures came weeks before that. Rightfully so, as in early to mid-March, 2020, no one knew quite how Covid-19 aka coronavirus would affect us. As the weeks have passed, we saw that Florida did better than originally expected in keeping the number of Covid-19 cases down (compared with the size of the states population). The good news is, the state will slowly begin to re-open on Monday, May 4, 2020. However, things will certainly be different for tour operators and the hospitality industry when it does.
Why This Could Be Good for Florida Tourism
Florida has always been a vacation haven for Americans. Even now, over 80% of tourists to Florida are domestic, meaning they did not travel internationally to get here. As lockdowns are lifted around the world, there is still likely to be travel restrictions on entry to nationals from countries around the world there are particularly high instances of Covid-19. This USA currently tops that list.
With many travelers restricted or reluctant to travel by air, the next best bet is to take a road trip. It is likely by summer 2020 we will see people ready to take summer vacation by hitting the highways of the USA and heading to vacation states like Florida.
Will Disney and the theme parks be open by summer 2020?
So far the official word from Disney is… we don’t know. From the mouths of some actual Disney employees, they think that possibly Disney Springs will open June 1st, and then the parks will re-open in stages, one at a time. Disney has posted on their website that annual passholders will be able to extend their passes for the amount of days they were not able to use them. But if you pass was for all of the parks, how would that work with the staggered re-opening dates. We will update this post if there is any further news. Click here for Disney official announcements.
What Should Tour Operators and Hospitality Providers Expect for Florida Tourism?
Budget now for smaller groups and total numbers than you have had in past years, but with an optimistic outlook that Florida is the #1 vacation destination for domestic tourism in the USA. Focus your marketing on local people looking for something to do. Adopt a staycation strategy that encourages people within a 100 (or 200) miles driving distance to see your wonderful attraction that they most likely have not before. It is a strange but true phenomenon that people do not often take the time to see the wonderful things in their own back yard that others travel from afar to marvel at. This is a time to encourage “right in your own backyard” adventures. This should be part of your marketing campaign.
You Must Build Trust to Survive after Covid-19 Lockdowns
As a tour operator, it is your job to let the public know that their safety is your highest priority. After this coronavirus outbreak, disinfecting equipment has become paramount. Social distancing will be something new for tour operators. We are not used to telling guests to stay 6 feet apart. But consider doing smaller groups, but perhaps more tours per day. Can you condense a 1.5 hour tour into a 1 hour tour, and charge a bit less? Then, do 3 tours per day instead of 2? Can you advertise private group experiences for a higher price?
Get creative with how you address the new rules of Covid-19 while making guests and employees safety the most important agenda item. Then, let people know how you are achieving this by posting it on your website. At Tripkee, we encourage all of our tour operator to posts a paragraph in each booking widget about safety and social distancing.
How do I Start Marketing My Tour Company after Covid-19?
All of the old rules for SEO, social media and online marketing still apply. You need to have a strong online presence and work at it constantly. However, as mentioned, your new strategy for the next 6-12 months should focus heavily on more local target markets. If you are an international tour operator, be mindful of travel restrictions. It is likely that bans for entry from certain countries that were hotspots (like USA, Italy, China) may be in place for many months to come. It is logical that people will not be flying or cruising in 2020, like they did in 2019. It may be even 2022 before we see air travel and cruise bookings but up to pre-2020 numbers. So, marketing strategies should consider domestic tourism, and drivable borders (like in the EU for example). If you are in a multi-lingual region, take this time to invest in a website that is translatable to your regional languages. When you “speak my language,” I automatically find you more likable than someone who does not. See how that works?
Finally, be sure you are using all of the great online resources out there like Ubersuggest and SEMrush to analyze and track your online presence. These sights give great tips for SEO and social media marketing.
Be prepared to be flexible, but stay optimistic. Florida has a good chance of bouncing back quickly when it re-opens in may 2020.