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COVID-19: Tourism Operators Five Point Marketing Checklist

Note. We wrote this back in April 2020 during the lockdowns we were experiencing in Australia. So much has happened since then. With a blog like this on a particular topic that has passed, we would usually delete it or repurpose it. BUT, we have decided to keep it as it’s a reminder of those days. And even better, it serves as a fabulous checklist to remind tourism & hospitality operators of the touchpoints to update in an emergency.

Tourism and the Coronavirus

Perhaps more than any other sector, COVID-19 has brought tourism to a standstill thanks to the innate nature of an industry which ordinarily thrives on human interaction and freedom to travel.

Decisions to restrict borders, limit travel and enforce social distancing measures are unprecedented and necessary.

The situation has forced restaurants, cafés, bars, hotels to change their service offerings to takeaway or delivery, while others have had to close altogether. Accommodation, tours and other tourism providers such as cellar doors and tasting rooms have all closed for the foreseeable future.

And yet, despite all of this, thanks to its deep social footprint and its role in our overall economy, the tourism sector is uniquely positioned to return to growth and stability.

During COVID-19 – Communication is Key

Tourism business owners may feel inundated with just dealing with the day-to-day trading restrictions and keeping customers and employees safe. But keeping in touch with your customers about how you are adapting and evolving is crucial.

Because if consumers don’t know how to buy from you or support you, you’ll lose them as customers!

When we are only participating in ‘essential travel’, your customers want to know exactly where they can go and be confident they can get what they need. They want to support locals and support you – so keep them informed.

As well as responding to the challenges inside your business – another priority must be to update your customer touchpoints and online marketing channels.

To help streamline this process, we’ve created this simple five-point marketing checklist.

No.1 Update Your Website

Greet your website visitors with immediate information on your trading. Are you temporarily closed? Let them know.

Have you innovated and remained in business through takeaway or delivery? Show them the menu and how to order.

Don’t forget to update your trading hours for any upcoming public holidays or decrease in regular hours.

If using WordPress, plugins like Corona Virus (COVID-19) Banner enable you to add a banner or overlay notice on your site with a customizable message. You can also include a button to link to further information on another page of your website.

Alternatively, you can change your home page and display a message from your team.

Whichever option you go with, make sure that any statement you make is precise and kept up to date over the coming weeks.

No.2 Update Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Besides being the undisputed master of Search, Google has a suite of products that assist tourism operators run their business online:

  • Google Maps
  • YouTube
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Console
  • Google Ads (previously Google Adwords)
  • And more!

The Google My Business listing is a vital tourism marketing tool as any updates you make will show on your profile on Google search results and Google maps.

Please Note: Even Google is experiencing limitations thanks to COVID-19. They have recently stated: that there may be some restrictions to Google My Business features “to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices.” The functionality of some parts may end up being delayed during this time, such as creating or claiming new listings

What Can You Update?

Google temporarily allows businesses such as restaurants and cafes to add the words’ takeout available’ or ‘delivery available’ to their business name.

Plus Temporary Closures

If you have closed for now due to COVID-19, you can use a new Google My Business feature to make it ‘Temporarily Closed‘.

Here’s how to do it:

No.3 Update Your ATDW Listing

The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is Australia’s national platform for digital tourism information. Launched in 2001 as a joint initiative of Tourism Australia and all Australian State and Territory Government Tourism Organisations.

ATDW stores and then publishes your tourism information to State, Territory and Regional Tourism Websites and other travel-related websites and smartphone apps. The reach is massive, and if you are in tourism, this listing is a must for your accommodation, event, food and drink offering.

At this point of writing, ATDW is asking you DO NOT cancel any listings update your details.

No.4 Update Your TripAdvisor Listing

TripAdvisor needs no introduction to tourism operators, but what you may not know is you can change your listing to ‘Takeaway or Delivery Only” or if you are ‘Temporarily Closed’.

Similar to Google My Business, it’s a simple two-step process.

No.5 Update Your Social Channels

Your social media channels are the perfect platform to communicate rolling updates to your followers and continue to engage with them, whether it’s letting them know about your new takeaway menu or delivery service, changes to opening hours, temporary closures, or any other ways you’ve innovated in your business to adapt to COVID-19.

With everyone advised to #StayatHome, you’ve got a captive audience of customers using their phones and devices to connect with the world.

So make sure you’re communicating with them!

You’ll also be pleased to hear that you can easily update your info on your Facebook business page.

Go to Page Settings > Page Info > Hours > and Select ‘Temporary Service Changes’ on a mobile device.

You can either indicate that your location is ‘Temporarily Closed’ or select from the options under ‘Open with Service Changes’ to specify changes explicitly relating to Online Services, Delivery and Pickup, or Other.

Changes you need to communicate with your customers.

Whatever you do – make sure you press ‘Save’!

One Extra for Good Measure!

We could all use a bit of extra luck at the moment, so why not add one more tip for good luck!

Do you have an email database? If yes – are you staying in contact via this valuable method too?

Much like social media, this is an excellent way to communicate rolling changes and get your takeaway or delivery menu right under their noses.

And hopefully, you’ve already got email templates set up to make it easy to send out a regular email.

Lastly – if you’re struggling, please reach out!

We know that you have a lot on your plates – because we’re right in the thick of it, too, helping our clients ride the COVID-19 rollercoaster.

Need More Inspiration?

We have created so much content to help you with your tourism marketing – take a read here. And if you need more help, please get in touch.


Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a marketing strategist specialising in tourism, wine and hospitality marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 14 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of strategic marketing planning, consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, and training. With over 80 customised websites built to date, successful event marketing campaigns and new business branding, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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