PromoTurismoFVG and phase 2 of the Covid-19 emergency: what is the scenario presently facing the Region, what are the key issues you are working on in terms of tourism marketing, and what tactical actions do you plan to implement in the short term? Will the weight of the levers of price, product, promotion and reputation change in your strategy, compared to the past? If so, how?
On 23 February, PromoTurismoFVG set up a Crisis Management Committee which took immediate action, adopting various decisions and strategies on behalf of four target groups: employees, tourist operators and stakeholders, the media and tourists. In the second, and what we call the ‘resilience’ phase, that started with the lockdown, the Committee regularly communicated with the whole network and increased connectivity tools and platforms. The aim was to provide continuity for a whole series of activities such as remote training courses, coordinating local committee meetings, drawing up guidelines as regards both the opening and use of beaches and tourist accommodation, monitoring local markets. We continued to communicate with tourists mainly through social media channels and we are now preparing for a gradual relaunch. We are waiting patiently while at the same time remaining alert and ready to act, monitoring the situation in order to be ready to grasp any opportunities that may present themselves as the rules and restrictions change. The emergency we are currently experiencing is a real shock, affecting both supply and demand, and the whole concept of holidays will undergo a profound change. When we get started again, we intend to focus on sport, with activities such as trekking and cycling – which is a natural social distancer – and well-being tourism products, such as the “Reload” project. This project, launched in Arta Terme, would seem to respond perfectly to present-day needs since it focuses on regeneration, yoga in the woods, and a healthy and genuine local diet. We will also give greater emphasis to eno-gastronomy, boosting hospitality facilities offering a personalised experience for small groups of food and wine lovers. We will not concentrate on the price lever, but on one-toone target marketing, including investing in customer relationship management – CRM.
How has your target market changed, what do you think the trends for 2021 will be and what medium-long term strategies are you planning? At national level, how important will it be to invest in a strategic positioning of “brand Italia”, in order to be able to attract foreign tourists again?
…We will concentrate on one-to-one target marketing, including investing in customer relationship management – CRM
The 2020 target will definitely be ‘proximity tourism’ in Italy, but hopefully also in Europe, seeing as the car will be the principal means of travelling, at least at first. At the product/service/offering level, we need to focus on the fundamentals, improving them where possible, and with a view to making profound innovations in 2021. The latest studies carried out already indicate some of the new types of consumers that are emerging, or that might emerge, such as the defenders (whose predominant emotion is one of fear, counterbalanced by a profound sense of community; their reaction to the present situation is mainly one of concern for the social crisis), the escapists (concerned with making the best of the current situation, they have taken advantage of the lockdown to cultivate new passions and interests) or the committed (who tend to look for new and concrete ways of tackling the situation, both now and for the future. They have never stopped working; young adult workers, they are the productive part of the population). In general, we can say that the tourists are the same as before, just more frightened, more cautious and more in need of reassurance regarding the type of product being offered and the way in which it is offered. Sustainability and health safety have to be an integral part of our offering/product/ service, in addition to nature, art and territorial heritage. The ‘Brand Italia’ promo campaign is extremely important. Together with other Regions we are working with Enit (Italian National Tourist Board) on this, particularly in view of 2021. It is vital that we immediately launch PR activities to ensure that our strengths as a tourist destination are better positioned at national level, and then move into the international ambit with brand campaigns aimed at tourists, but also through B2B activities with digital platforms aimed at tour operators, travel agencies, airports.
In view of all the uncertainty surrounding the present situation, how important is marketing communication for you, and what are the biggest issues? Considering the growth of proximity tourism, will you have to revise your approach in order to adapt it to a more local target? And what about the long term?
Marketing is extremely important. We have to start by combatting people’s fear and rebuilding their confidence. We will avoid aggressive marketing strategies and will use instead a calm, reassuring message, mainly of an informative nature, prioritizing the dissemination of useful information through tools such as FAQ, newsletters and targeted messaging, using a calm, comforting tone. We have been monitoring user reaction right from the start of the emergency: how the propensity for travel is changing and how it will evolve; what the needs of individual countries are and what the most suitable forms of communication are for the different targets. There will be an overwhelming desire for open spaces, for nature and for visiting favourite old haunts, so efforts will also be made to convince locals to remain close to home. On the downside, tourists will have less money to spend on travelling and fewer holidays available.
Which communication channels are you curating and what are your objectives? Will the scenario of “slow” tourism have an impact on the type of channel to use?
As soon as we think it is time to launch the promotion phase, our activity will be directed particularly at our most loyal customers. One-to-one marketing will predominate, so it is important to keep the contact database up-to-date, to populate it with variables, and to become better acquainted with our “temporary-citizen” tourist. Social media channels have been curated throughout the crisis with a ‘soft’ message recalling favourite destinations, in which the tone played an even more important role than the message itself. During the reopening phase, the radio channel will have greater weight.
Sustainability and health safety have to be an integral part of our offering/product/service, in addition to nature, art and territorial heritage
As far as the localities you represent are concerned, which values and concepts do you think are going to be most successful, when you reopen? (safety, open spaces…)?
Our hope is that we are going to have a proper summer season, in compliance with the measures imposed by the decrees and ordinances. Taking for granted that our offering is, or will be, in full compliance with the rules, the key word will be “reassuring”. The key element in all the different kinds of holiday experiences we are preparing, from the beach to mountain trekking and wine tasting, is going to be their ‘pleasurableness’. The ‘winners’ in these circumstances will be those who are able to enforce the rules better, in a pleasant and agreeable way.