“When times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
This adage from advertising pioneer Bruce Barton is more than 100 years old, but it still rings true today. Over the past five months due to the effects of COVID-19, the United States and the travel industry as a whole has seen decreased spending that has thrown the US into a recession. CVBs have paused or drastically scaled back their advertising efforts so as to not appear insensitive, and according to the Harvard Business Review, “Google and Facebook are reporting substantially lower ad revenues.”
With the decrease in the number of advertisers in the market, now more than ever is the time for your CVB to keep media efforts going strong so that you can keep your destination at the forefront. However, you can’t just keep those same old ads running—you need to adjust your strategy.
- Analyze Historical Data
With your media currently paused or scaled back, you have more time to dig deeper into historical data and determine which markets and channels have traditionally been the most successful for your CVB. Don’t just stick with Google Analytics, though. Be sure to look at your past lead sources (via CRM data, Cvent, etc.), and use these insights to help inform your targeting decisions as you resume marketing.
Due to a general reluctance to travel and thus lower hotel occupancy rates, most destinations are seeing a decrease in bed tax. With this loss of revenue leading to budget cuts and stricter spending guidelines, it’s more important than ever to evaluate where your CVB is spending its media dollars.
As consumers are still hesitant to travel by air, consider shifting your targeting to local or drive markets, especially if your data analysis supports this decision. Whichever targeting strategy your CVB utilizes, ensure you don’t waste your limited media budget on audiences that won’t convert. Target those that will give you the most ROI.
- Adapt Your Strategy
Most CVBs today take a mixed media approach to marketing their campaigns, incorporating traditional methods like print advertising and TV spots with a digital component, including PPC and social media marketing. In the wake of COVID-19, however, you may need to reevaluate which channels you’re utilizing. If you aren’t already doing so, consider shifting more of your budget toward social media. During lockdown and as restrictions have eased, people have been consuming content on their phones more than ever before, with 65% of consumers indicating that they’re interested in being communicated to by brands via social media channels.
With how fast conditions can change in today’s market, opt for more cost-effective and easily pausable channels so that your CVB is able to remain flexible as messages change and scalable as budgets change.
- Audit Your Creative
When your CVB is ready to resume marketing, you may need to rethink your creative. Ensure that your imagery isn’t showcasing large groups, crowded meetings, or attractions that are closed. Instead, if they’re available, utilize assets that feature people wearing face coverings and abiding by social distancing guidelines. Consumers today want to see proof of these safety precautions, which will instill confidence in your destination and keep it top of mind for both travelers and meeting planners alike.
While you might not feel comfortable advertising right now, studies have shown that companies who have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions typically did not cut their marketing spend. In fact, in some cases, they increased it. As B2B Institute Research Fellow Peter Field notes in Advertising in Recession — Long, Short, or Dark?, “brand advertising is not about profiting in recession, it is about capitalizing on recovery.”
Is your CVB ready to resume media but not sure where to start? Reach out to our team of experts or view our resources for the latest insights, tips, and tools for COVID-19 recovery. We’re here to help.