“Although GCC’s travel, tourism and hospitality markets are likely to recover at a faster pace in comparison with their global counterparts, this could still take up to 18-24 months. Therefore, businesses operating in these sectors must prepare themselves for continued losses in revenues, renegotiation of contract terms with suppliers, placing more employees on unpaid leave and even partial suspension of operations,” continued Abou Zaki.
Measures to flatten the COVID-19 curve such as community lockdowns, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, travel and mobility restrictions as well as rising health safety concerns of people have given rise to new trends in travel and tourism. Apart from an increasing demand for domestic tourism/hospitality experiences, a large majority of consumers are currently spending more time on in-home media consumption. These shifts present an ideal opportunity before travel and tourism marketeers to change their focus to domestic audiences and roll out creative and interactive content to effectively engage with them. Moreover, coming up with imaginative ideas such as the launch of ‘work from hotel’ deals for those who are looking for a change of scene from ‘working from home’ could also pay off.
Some leading travel and tourism brands in the region are already exploring innovative digital campaigns such as streaming of live events, virtual experiences, influencer partnerships, wellness and cooking vlogs and social media contests using User Generated Content (UGC) to engage audiences in meaningful ways. Apart from these, they are also generating buzz around enhanced sanitization and disinfection around their properties through digital platforms and launching innovative welcome-back promos that offer free staycations and travel. However, a majority of them are still lagging behind in terms of accelerating the shift from traditional to digital marketing tools.