Over the past year, I have personally launched several initiatives to motivate hoteliers and agents to take advantage of the idle period to prepare, and improve their digital marketing strategies.
The tourism sector is one of the industries which were, without a doubt, hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many companies were closed, people lost their jobs, families lost their regular income.
The multiplicative effect of tourism in the economy is well known, or the phenomenon that every euro earned from tourism spreads further through other activities, so it makes sense that with the decline in tourism, other, complementary, industries also suffered.
The pandemic hit international and business travel sectors the hardest, followed by city and MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events). On the other hand, there has been an expansion of domestic tourism, primarily in rural destinations.
Last year, the World Tourism Organization and other relevant institutions published statistics on the record decline in tourist traffic, which compared the volume of global tourism to that of the 1950s. Since I deal with digital marketing, I regularly monitor the level of demand and I have repeatedly witnessed the drop in Google searches for hotels and travel.
The pandemic has closed many facilities and travel agencies, some temporarily and some unfortunately permanently. Many, however, managed to make it through the most difficult period. Domestic travel agencies have been trying again to find new destinations that could be safe and at the same time interesting for travelers, so Albania experienced a real boom, and so have Turkey and Egypt. Many agencies have turned to both day-trip and domestic tourism.
Fortunately, vaccine roll-outs were more and more successful at the beginning of this year, and all of us who work in tourism secretly hoped for recovery. The situation is significantly better this season – although still far from where we used to be, it’s nice to see people doing jobs they love again.
Tourism is coming back. European countries are slowly opening up to foreign tourists; Spain and Italy have opened their coastal destinations, though we will have to wait a little longer to visit their cities. The European Union has given the green light to tourists from the USA, airlines are returning, and various business, sports, and entertainment events are slowly starting to take place.
Over the past year, I have personally launched several initiatives to motivate hoteliers and agents to take advantage of the idle period to prepare, and improve their digital marketing strategies. We ran a number of free online courses. It was the right time to finally correct mistakes, write some content, sort out social media accounts. Those who have done so have a great advantage over others today, because tourists will use the internet even more in the Post-Covid world to find information and book trips.
Digital marketing is still the cheapest, most efficient, and the fastest way to reach tourists and guests. It often happens that I am hired by clients who urgently need turnover and earnings, and we achieve that in a couple of weeks.
What will remain a consequence of the pandemic for some time is the short pre-booking time frame. The market is still turbulent, some borders are opening while others are closing, some new measures are being adopted and some are being abolished, so tourists will not book trips a year in advance, but will rather wait until the last minute before checking in to reduce risk. That is why it is important that you find yourself at the source of demand at all times – Google, YouTube and social media. Preference will be given to those hotels and arrangements that offer free cancellation up to a few days before the trip.
Many experts predicted ‘the new normal’ in tourism last year, that we will never be able to travel the same way again, but this year the predictions are completely different and the phrase is no longer mentioned. There is every chance that we will only have a return to ‘normal’, and we all hope so!
Milan Stojkovic, founder of „E-toursim consulting“