Interestingly, new research suggests that it could be beneficial to overtly communicate safety messaging in advertising, as this has been proven to positively influence tourists’ intentions to travel.
The study, undertaken by King’s Business School and published in Annals of Tourism Research, compared consumer responses to two versions of an ad depicting Dubrovnik as a tourist destination. The first ad showed ‘Dubrovnik’ against a backdrop of the city, while the second ad showed ‘Dubrovnik, the safe city’. The results indicated that there was a significantly stronger intention to visit after the ad containing the safety message.
While the study was undertaken outside the context of the current coronavirus pandemic (from a print advertising campaign in 2018), researchers suggest that the results are all the more pertinent given the current situation, and as a result, hotels, resorts, and destinations could benefit from including safety messaging in advertising.
This suggestion also comes as the World Travel and Tourism Council announced its ‘Safe Travels’ initiative; a set of protocols for travel providers, airlines, and hospitality brands to follow. A badge will indicate to travellers that a company has adopted health standards deemed safe by the WTTC. Recently, we have already seen signs of the industry actively promoting what they are doing in relation to safety.
Cleaning no longer a ‘behind the scenes’ activity for hotels
Cleaning has typically been an activity that takes place behind the scenes in hotels, with guests often booking in good faith that standard levels of cleanliness will be met. Of course, it’s no longer enough for customers to hope that this will the case; it is now a requirement.
Consequently, hotels are starting to shine a light on how they are keeping hotels clean, and even implementing new initiatives to raise standards. Hilton has recently launched ‘Clean Stay’; an initiative in partnership with RB, the manufacturer of Lysol and Dettol products. According to Hilton, the aim of Clean Stay is to deliver “an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in Hilton properties”.
When you’re ready to travel again, we’ll be ready to welcome you with an all new standard for hotel cleanliness and disinfection across our 18 brands.
— Hilton (@Hilton) April 27, 2020
‘Clean Stay’ involves a number of additional health and safety processes to make cleanliness a visible focus throughout the chain’s hotels. These include an extra deep clean of 10 areas that hotel guests touch the most, the removal of stationery and other items that clutter rooms, and accessible disinfectant wipes placed throughout the hotel. To ramp up reassurance, guests will also see a Hilton ‘Clean Stay’ seal on their door to indicate that the room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned.
Hilton is not the only hotel taking measures like this. In fact, a large number of hotel chains are running their own policies and programs, including Best Western’s ‘We Care Clean’ and Hyatt’s ‘Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment’ to name just two others. While they all have a similar focus on ‘cleanliness’, they also share a commitment to promoting these activities in order to reassure guests, and to encourage people to get booking in the first place.
Online travel agents and airlines take greater responsibility
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, online travel agencies and airlines have been subject to criticism over refund policies, with many customers still making attempts to get their money back months down the line. This might have already resulted in the lost loyalty of customers for some businesses, but many are now promoting how they are working hard to resolve previous issues as well as take more responsibility in future.
Secret Escapes is one online travel agency promoting a pro-active approach. It recently sent an email to customers outlining how it is aiming to offer reassurance after lockdown, partly by introducing a new range of fully refundable deals, which customers can change up to eight days before departure.
Email from Secret Escapes
Of course, this might not satisfy those who feel they have been unfairly treated in the past few months, but it could help to lure in new customers. Another update from Secret Escapes’ is its ‘Stay Safe’ policy, which involves working with partnering hotels to ensure health and safety guidelines are met. The company has also promised greater transparency in terms of how social distancing and Covid-19 might still affect its deals, ensuring that customers are under no illusions about any limitations they might face.
Meanwhile, with demand for air travel slowly rising, airlines are also weaving in messages about safety into marketing in order to build confidence amongst travellers. American Airlines is one example, creating content related to its ‘Commitment to Clean’ pledge, used alongside the hashtag, #YouAreWhyWeFly.
Its video outlines the various in-flight procedures it will undertake, such as deep cleaning and rules regarding face masks.
— americanair (@AmericanAir) May 29, 2020
Tourism boards highlight the great outdoors
During the past few months, tourism brands have changed their messaging to encourage people to stay home, focusing on the future dream of travel instead. With life slowly returning to normal, however, one issue destinations are now likely to face is resistance from hesitant travellers.
Consequently, we are seeing tourism brands find ways to promote destinations in the context of the ‘new normal’, with some promoting holidays that are dominated by nature and permitted outdoor activities. Travel Nevada, for example, has created ‘Going the Social Distance’ – a guide specifically for outdoor-based trips in the state. Interestingly, the guide is centred around what is different and therefore what to expect (including crowds, closures, and unstaffed sites), to ensure that travellers are aware and respectful of social distancing rules.
With sections such as ‘Be-Closure Minded’, the tone is mildly uninviting, but deliberately so. People are likely to flock to outdoor beauty spots as soon as they can; Travel Nevada is clearly trying to strike the right balance between encouragement and caution.
Finally, despite UK tourism boards still promoting the fact that destinations and businesses are closed to tourists, VisitEngland is turning its attention to the great outdoors, encouraging people to get involved with outdoor pursuits such as walking and cycling. It’s likely that this will be the message even as tourist sites re-open.
VisitEngland has also recently pivoted to the message of “pause for now, play soon” on social media, indicating that it might soon be encouraging people to enjoy travel again, most importantly with safety in mind.
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The slower pace of life on pause has made us more appreciative of special moments outside ????. Who’s planning on staying somewhere peaceful when we press play once again? ????♀️????️ . ???? :©VisitBritain/@stovesincoves . #VisitEngland #LoveGreatBritain . #travel #travelpic #travelgram #travelinspiration #travelinspo #traveler #traveling #photosofbritain #picoftheday #wanderlust #instago #beautifuldestinations #traveltheworld #instalove #instalife #instago #England
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