Skift Take

It's a tough time for tourism marketers but going dark isn't necessarily required. Here are some examples of campaigns that are striking the proper tone.

Destination marketing is in a seriously tough spot, as Skift has covered in recent weeks. A survey from MMGY Travel Intelligence and Destinations International found that 80 percent of destination organizations surveyed in North America have reduced or postponed sales and marketing spending. But tourism promotion doesn’t necessarily have to go totally dark now that most travel is grounded — and indeed, there’s an argument that it shouldn’t.

As the crisis has unfolded, we’ve been impressed by the creativity of some tourism boards and destination marketers that are finding ways to promote their destinations in a manner that’s not just tonally appropriate — but generous, inventive, and genuinely uplifting as well. Here are five examples of campaigns we’ve noted, as well as why we think they worked. Note that none of these campaigns explicitly encourage booking a trip right now.

Visit Portugal

A decidedly uplifting campaign, Visit Portugal’s ‘Can’t Skip Hope’ video tackles the issue of travel bans head-on its first few words: “It’s time to stop.” The sweeping vistas and charming scenes displayed in the two minute video certainly inspire one to visit Portugal in the future, but it does not come across as sales-y. The we’re-all-in-this-together tone feels uplifting in these trying times.

Visit Britain

Britain’s greatest export is arguably its culture, from literature and film to music. Visit Britain has capitalized on that during the crisis on its social media feeds. In addition to content that essentially says “we can’t wait to welcome you again soon,” the DMO has also been posting ways to engage with British culture right now — from a quarantine couch. What makes it truly clever is including call to actions with each post, from crowdsourcing tracks for a Spotify playlist of iconic British music, or inviting followers to explore the filming locations featured in The Crown and Harry Potter.

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau

Philadelphia’s DMO has launched a “Philadelphia from Home” webpage, which features ways to interact with the city’s offerings from home, which it’s promoting across social media. A Facebook Live from the Philadelphia Zoo, a list of restaurants open for takeout, and recipes for a famous Philly Cheesesteak are all ways would-be visitors and locals can interact with the destination. The offerings feel genuinely useful  — and likely to inspire a visit.

Travel Saint Lucia

The Caribbean destination is inviting followers to experience the destination via Instagram Live, with its “7 Minutes in St Lucia” campaign. It kicked off on March 26 with a seven minute streamed yoga practice in view of the famous Pitons, world-famous volcanic spires. Other activities include a cooking class, a dance party, and a guided meditation. The offerings slot into the kinds of things many people are doing anyway while in social distance mode — cooking and working out — which means it feels less sales-y and more generous.

Discover Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is inviting its followers and would-be visitors to a virtual getaway, with salsa classes, cocktail making, and cooking. As Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean told Skift last week, the DMO shifted from a “visit now” approach to a “visit later” one a couple of weeks ago, with the goal of keeping the destination top of mind for future visitors.


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Tags: coronavirus, destination marketing, dmos, tourism

Photo credit: Marigot Bay in St. Lucia Travel Saint Lucia

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